Jennitha Anto is an international chess champion from Trichy. She is a wheelchair user who was affected by polio at the age of three. Jennitha is a six-time world champion who has won many laurels and recognitions for India. Jennitha talks about her tryst with chess and future plans.
“I was born and raised in Trichy. I was affected by polio when I was around three years old. My parents used to carry me everywhere around. In the year 2010, I started using a wheelchair. My family consisting of my parents and siblings are very supportive to me and all my ventures. I completed my school and then did graduation in commerce as well.
I studied for a few years in a school for specially-abled children. But soon I moved out from there because my father Kanickai wanted me to be part of a regular school. So from class 2 to class 8, I was in a regular school. Later on, I completed my education through correspondence
Tryst with chess
From a very young age, I was interested in chess. It was my father who introduced me to the game. He is my first teacher. So from the age of nine, I had started to play chess quite frequently.
Later on, I started being trained by Venkatraman for almost six months. I used to attend classes of Raja Ravi Sekhar from Bengaluru. After 2013, I was trained by Visveswaran. Now, I am imparting training by Grandmaster Sunder Rajan.
I love watching other games and sports. But have never felt the need to become part of it or play it. Moreover, I have my mobility limitations because I have a 90% disability.
All-rounder in chess
I am a six-time world champion in chess tournament conducted by the International Physically Disabled Chess Association. I won the championship continuously from 2013 to 2017, and yet again in 2019. Last year, I visited Spain for the championship. I won gold in national championships in the years 2015 and 2017.
I wish to run an inclusive chess school very soon and concentrate on training children. I also want to become the first woman grandmaster from the disabled category. But I believe there is a lot more for me to achieve that.
Overcoming many obstacles
Since I travel a lot for my tournaments, I find accessibility to a major problem. Even renowned hotels do not have wheelchair ramps. I wonder why the government is turning their heads towards the needs and requirements of disabled people. Accessibility is something that is not hard to implement. Even today, people are unaware of facilities for disabled people. I hope to see an inclusive world very soon.
In 2017, I was attending a chess tournament in Delhi. There were over 1000 players and I was the only disabled person. The lift was not working there for two days. So I had to be carried through the steps. These are some of the reasons why disabled people refuse to come out.
Every person has some talents. Search for it and work on it. You can beat all your struggles through hard-work. Have confidence in yourself and don’t be disheartened in life.”