A sophomore student at BASIS Chandler has organized the second ChessHelps Tournament with the mission of “alleviating poverty through chess.”
Prateek Pinisetti will host the non-profit event on Aug. 25 at BASIS Chandler. He said that he came up with the idea for the tournament after many years of competing in chess tournaments around the country.
“I’ve been playing chess for seven years and saw a few other people do tournaments,” Pinisetti said. “I thought I would do it. I wanted to help the school and the community.”
The event will start at 9 a.m. and rounds will be completed throughout the day with the last series of rounds starting at 4:30 p.m. An awards ceremony will take place after the last series of rounds is completed.
Funds from the event go to the teacher fund at BASIS Chandler and for KIVA, a non-profit organization that lends money to low-income and under served entrepreneurs and students in 86 countries.
Pinisetti has organized both ChessHelps Tournaments with the help of his parents.
“We were searching for venues and a lot are pretty expensive,” Pinisetti said. “We decided to ask the school and they accepted and didn’t charge us.”
The $9,000 raised was split evenly between the two non-profit organizations that Pinisetti chose.
“I hope we can meet or exceed that goal ($9,000),” Pinisetti said. “Based on the number of people signing up previous to the tournament, I think we can beat it easily.”
Pinisetti said he chose to give to the teachers fund because they have not been able to raise their goal amount in the four years he has spent at the school. After his donation last year, the teachers’ fund met 92 percent of its fundraising goal, the closest they ever gotten to it.
Last year, the event drew 135 competitors, including Grandmaster Rojelio Barcenilla and a number of International Masters and FIDE (World Chess Federation) Masters. Pinisetti expects Grandmaster Rojelio Barcenilla, an International Master and multiple FIDE masters, to attend this year’s event.
Due to being more prepared for this year’s tournament, Pinisetti said he expects 150 to 160 people to attend the event this year. He said that this time last year, they did not even have an online preregistration system set up.
Pinisetti said some future goals he has for ChessHelps includes hosting more players each year and, “hopefully, we may be able to host it more than once – maybe three or four times a year.”
The sections for the tournament are as follows: Open, U2000, U1600, U1200, and Unrated. The Open section winners will be awarded $400, $200 and $100 for first through third place, respectively. The other sections will be awarded trophies.
“Anyone can play,” Pinisetti said. “There are no restrictions – age, skill level – nothing like that.”
Martha Underwood, a tournament director for ChessHelps, has known Pinisetti and his family since he first started competing in chess tournaments around the nation. When Pinisetti asked Underwood to donate her time as a tournament director, she said, “I was happy to do it.”
“I think it’s remarkable. I see the value it brings to the community. We need to have more tournaments anyway, so why not have one for a noble cause?,” Underwood said. “He’s using one of his strengths to do good for others.”
Underwood said she enjoyed helping direct ChessHelps last year because it’s a local event that has top-level players. She said she’s excited to see what happens this year and hopes the tournament runs as smoothly as it did last year.
According to both Underwood and Pinisetti, the event went rather smooth last year. Underwood said she hopes “there’s not a lot of difference in regards to the energy and enthusiasm around the event.”
“The emphasis is that this 14-year-old kid has taken it upon himself to raise money to help alleviate poverty around the world,” Underwood said. “His ability to bring what he loves to create a tournament – it’s incredible. He’s a role model for all of us.”
Registration for the event can be completed at events4chess.com. Entry fees are $25 by Aug. 24, $30 by Aug. 28 by 7 p.m., and $35 on site the day of the tournament. Registration at events4chess.com ends on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. and on-site registration ends at 8:30 a.m.
For more information, visit http://www.chesshelps.org/p/home_29.html.
• Katelyn Faubel is a sophomoreat the Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She is interning this semester for the East Valley Tribune.