Anup Jayaraj, Indian Chess Champion

Cool, calm, and collected. That’s how Anup Jayaraj, 18, sums up the qualities of a good chess player.

We meet him in Rishikesh at Acem’s Millennium Retreat in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. He has just returned from a chess tournament with top players in Delhi where he has won the championship, winning four games and drawing two. At present, his mind is set on an even greater goal: to become a Grand Master, of which there are only five in India. To achieve this goal, Anup practises Acem Meditation. He says that it improves his confidence and his concentration, both of which are essential in chess. After the retreat, we hear news of more victories for Anup.

Born in Madras in southern India, Anup now lives in Delhi with his parents and sister. At home he speaks Tamil, at school, English, and with his friends, Hindi. His teachers worry that chess is taking up too much of his time, but Anup does not agree. “Thanks to my meditation,” he says, “I¡¯m able to concentrate fully on what I¡¯m doing. It¡¯s true that I have less time for my studies because of my interest in chess, but I don’t think that that will affect my exams.”

“Chess is a logical game,” Anup says. “You can’t allow yourself to be carried away by emotions. If you touch a piece, you have to move it. One little diversion can lose an entire game.” According to Anup, Acem Meditation has helped him to concentrate.

“There is a psychological element in chess,” he continues. “When watching someone play, you can tell if he is fearful or confident, aggressive or defensive, and your own state of mind is just as important as your opponent’s. All top players have activities that keep them physically and mentally fit: swimming, bicycling, yoga. To keep myself fit, I practise Acem Meditation.”

India has some of the best chess players in the world. Chess competitions have become a national game, and Indian sportswriters cover tournaments there with the same enthusiasm that is shown for golf, tennis, and soccer in other parts of the world. Anup is the pride of his school and family. His name is frequently on the front page of the sport’s section.

Acem Meditation has helped Anup build stronger relationships with his friends as well. “I am friendlier and more affectionate now,” he says. “Some of my friends tease me about my meditation, but they can see that it helps me.”

Anup uses meditation to cool down when, once in a while, he loses a game. “I still feel a little sad when I lose, but I don’t get depressed the way I used to. I try to look at my mistakes with a clear mind and learn from them.”

During the meditation retreat, Anup begins to wonder if he is too ambitious, but he says that he has no intention of giving up his goal. He is sure about that, and he knows that to achieve it he must work hard and remain focused.

Acem International Newsletter no 1 2001