Singapore: Chess Coach Murali Krishna Chitrada Fusing AI With Tradition To Enhance Players’ Game

Singapore: Chess Coach Murali Krishna Chitrada Fusing AI With Tradition To Enhance Players’ Game

connectedtoindia.comUpdated: Wednesday, May 08, 2024, 12:31 PM IST
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LCA founder and chess coach Murali Krishna Chitrada. Photo courtesy: Murali Krishna Chitrada |

A Chess coach in Singapore is integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) with traditional methods to make his teaching more robust. Murali Krishna Chitrada, the founder of Learn Chess Academy aims to prepare his students for an uncertain future, through his unusual teaching methods.

The academy recently held a competition on May 1. Apart from over a dozen participants, the event was also attended by KV Rao, the President of the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, and Anuj Khanna Sohum, Founder and CEO of Affle.

Speaking to Connected to India, Chitrada, a professional Chess coach based in Singapore, who has been running LCA for the last 14 years, opened up about his philosophy.

“I have adapted my methodology to prepare students for an uncertain future. With the future of jobs and careers in flux, I firmly believe that strengthening fundamental human learning capabilities — focusing, logical reasoning, and analytical skills — is a critical investment, regardless of a student’s eventual STEM involvement.

“Furthermore, acknowledging AI’s superior pattern recognition abilities, I believe the integration of AI into my approach offers significant benefits,” Chitrada said. His students receive AI feedback on assignments, which helps them identify areas for improvement.

Born in southern India’s Visakhapatnam city, Chitrada learnt Chess — a game invented in India in the 6th century — from N Prasad, a proponent of the Gurukul method of study. Prasad convinced his disciple’s father and took the young student to his ‘Santhi Kunj’ Ashram in Haridwar, where the teacher created a “conducive environment for Chess coaching”.

This teaching helped Chitrada develop his own principle of the 3P Approach – Physiology, Psychology and Philosophy. One of the Ps, Physiology, encourages young learners to sit in a cross-legged posture with their spine erect. “I’ve observed that maintaining a straight spine and sitting cross-legged helps minimise physical restlessness, which in turn enhances neurological and cerebral performance,” Chitrada said.

Chitrada with his student Sophia Chan, 10. Chan attends the Singapore American School. Photo courtesy: Murali Krishna Chitrada.

Chitrada with his student Sophia Chan, 10. Chan attends the Singapore American School. Photo courtesy: Murali Krishna Chitrada. |

Explaining the importance of discipline in learning, the Chess coach further stated: “My daily routine included meditation from 3 am to 6 am, Yoga from 6 am to 8 am, and a total of 8 hours of Chess practice from 8 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm, all while sitting in the Padmaasan (cross-legged posture),” he added.

This rigorous training quickly bore fruit, and within a few months, Chitrada, a native of Visakhapatnam city in southern India, attained the third rank in the state of Andhra Pradesh, and started participating in national tournaments in India.

Today, he teaches a diverse group — of ages ranging between 4 and 60 years — who are involved in various fields, including software engineers and entrepreneurs.

Anuj Khanna Sohum, who is also one of the parents of Chitrada’s students, corroborated his claim. He told Connected to India that the methods had significant improvements in his children’s abilities. “Within just a few months of 1:1 coaching lessons, my younger child began to exhibit greater stability and concentration in Chess and her other academic pursuits. Meanwhile, my elder child’s problem-solving and analytical skills were notably enhanced,” the Affle CEO said.

Affle CEO Anuj Khanna Sohum. Photo courtesy: Anuj Khanna Sohum.

Affle CEO Anuj Khanna Sohum. Photo courtesy: Anuj Khanna Sohum. |

With people’s attention span diminishing with the advancement of time, Chitrada would be hoping to make a significant change to that with his methods. He feels that the current system needs to evolve to keep pace with time.

“As knowledge continues to grow at an extraordinary pace, the education system must evolve. It’s unrealistic to cover all this knowledge during traditional schooling. Instead, the focus should shift from mere information acquisition to fostering holistic cognitive abilities,” Chitrada said.

Asked to identify some of the problems faced by students, the LCA founder pointed to physical agitation and fidgetiness, lack of attention and focus, and reliance on rote memorization. To deal with these, LCA focuses on avoiding memorisation and allowing students to think on the go.

Elaborating on his point, he said: “There’s a myth that one must memorise Chess openings. While there are about 1,500 basic Chess openings, like the Queen’s Gambit, Indian Defence, and Italian Game, excessive memorisation is not essential. Many players spend a lot of time memorising these openings and their variations to save time during initial tournament moves. However, beyond the first eight to 10 moves, players must rely on their understanding of the game. If an opponent introduces an unfamiliar variation, knowing how to proceed becomes crucial. Understanding the underlying principles and strategies can significantly reduce the need for memorisation.”

Chess is currently huge in Chitrada’s native land, India. After Chess legend and Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand made the game popular, the current crop of Indian Chess players, mostly under 30, are making a name for themselves in the world.

Five-time World Chess Champion and first Indian grandmaster V Anand. Photo courtesy: Viswanathan Anand/Instagram

Five-time World Chess Champion and first Indian grandmaster V Anand. Photo courtesy: Viswanathan Anand/Instagram |

Recently, 17-year-old grandmaster D Gukesh made India proud by winning the Candidates Chess Tournament. By virtue of his win, the teenager became the youngest challenger to the world title. The Chennai-based player will now face world champion Ding Liren for the prestigious title.

Indian Chess phenom Dommaraju Gukesh. Photo courtesy: Gukesh/Instagram

Indian Chess phenom Dommaraju Gukesh. Photo courtesy: Gukesh/Instagram |

Chitrada will look to draw inspiration from his birth country and elevate Singapore’s rank in Chess by the use of his methods.

(The article is published under a mutual content partnership arrangement between The Free Press Journal and Connected To India)

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