A nine-member team of inmates from Pune's Yerawada Central Prison clinched the gold medal for India in the third Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners by defeating the El Salvador team in the men's finals. The championship witnessed participation from 118 teams representing 50 countries.
The Yerawada Central Prison chess team, comprising inmates Shankar Subrav Pawar, Manoj Tulsi Paswan, Satish Bansi Lagad, Dada Mahadev Naiknaware, Vijaypal Vikki Singh, Satish Ashok Pawar, Akshay Rajesh Naik, Lahu Subrav Pawar, and Ashish Vilas Pundalik, honed their skills during their incarceration and demonstrated remarkable chess prowess throughout the championship.
Initially, the state prison department shortlisted over 20 inmates who showed interest and willingness to learn online chess. In August, the inmates' training was initiated. Nine inmates were finalised after getting the contenders to play rounds against each other. This nine-member team secured the top position in the All-India Inter-Central Jail Chess Tournament and qualified for the Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners.
This chess event, hosted by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), in collaboration with the Chicago Cook County Sheriff's Office, is a component of the 'Chess for Freedom' program. It is a continuation of the international championship that was initially held in 2019, followed by the Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners in 2021 and 2022.
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich expressed his congratulations to the winners and emphasised, "This event has been filled with remarkable stories, incredible talent, and a shared commitment to the transformative power of chess and the resourcefulness of the human spirit. Most importantly, over the past three days, we have all taken part in something new and meaningful that offers a chance for change and improvement. You are now part of the global chess family, and wherever your life may take you, remember FIDE's motto in Latin, which reads 'Gens Una Sumus,' meaning 'We are one family'."