R.B. Ramesh, a chess Grandmaster and now an acclaimed coach, has been conferred with the prestigious Dronacharya Award 2023 by the Indian government.
Ramesh, widely credited for shaping the career of many champion chess players, runs the Chess Gurukul Academy in Chennai. The academy is now regarded as a nursery for Indian chess and has produced at least 10 Grandmasters.
The awardees are given a bronze statue of ‘guru’ Drona, a certificate, and a cash prize of Rs 10 lakhs.
Over the years, Ramesh's students have returned with over 35 medals from the World Youth Championship, over 40 from Asian Youth, 23 from the Commonwealth Championship, 36 from the National Championship and five from the Asian Championship.
Ramesh's best-known student is R. Praggnanandhaa, the 18-year-old wunderkind from Chennai and teenage Grandmaster.
Praggnanandhaa's sister, R. Vaishali (who was conferred the Arjuna award) and is counted among young female talents in the country, is also coached by Ramesh.
Another famous disciple of Ramesh is Aravindh Chithambaram, who became the first Indian to simultaneously hold National titles in all three formats — Classical, Rapid and Blitz.
Ramesh was also the coach of the India 2 team that won a bronze medal at the 2022 Chess Olympiad in Chennai. He helped India win its first team medal at the 2014 Chess Olympiad.
An illustrious chess player himself, Ramesh decided to quit his job at the Indian Oil Corporation to set up the chess academy along with his wife, Aarthie Ramaswamy, a chess player herself. Incidentally, Ramesh had coached Aarthie to victory in the Girls U-18 title at the World Youth Championship in 1999.
Ramesh started playing chess at the relatively late age of 12, inspired by the success of India's greatest chess player, Viswanathan Anand.
Ramesh became a Grandmaster in 2004 (10th Indian to get the title)
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