32-year-old who cannot sit, walk plays chess to be grandmaster
Ahmedabad: Shailesh Nerlikar has not allowed his physical condition to become an obstacle in his progress. The 32-year-old, who suffers from chronic bone disease since childhood, has instead shown true grit by becoming an international rated chess player. He aims to be a grand master.
Nerlikar cannot walk or sit up due to extremely fragile bones. Undeterred by the condition, he made up his mind to not give up and has since been a regular at various chess competitions in the country. He is currently competing at the ongoing Brain Power U-2000 International Rating Chess tournament in Ahmedabad. Due to his condition, he plays the game of 64 squares by lying next to the chess board and using a stick to make his moves.
Shailesh’s condition is a result of calcium overdose. “When he was six, doctors thought he lacked calcium and gave him heavy dose injections of the same. That had a reverse effect on him, leaving him permanently bedridden. He has not been able to move around freely since the age of six, and needs someone to help him with that,” said his mother Sarla.
The Nerlikars belong to Nerli, located 10 km from Kolhapur. Despite the hardships, they have remained optimistic, and do not want anyone to look to their son as an invalid. “He has conquered the game on his own will and made us proud. I don’t feel sorry for him. In fact with his progress, one can say our efforts have paid off,” she added. l of Shailesh’s moves on the official game paper on his behalf.
Shailesh’s romance with chess started a decade back, when he started playing it to kill time. The first time he played competitively was at a tournament in Kolhapur.
“Looking at his dedication and determination, the arbitrator of that event convinced us to get him a coach. It wasn’t easy as road connectivity to our village is not great. But we did it for Shailesh,” recalled his father Madhukar, a former teacher.
They then took him to Parsvanath International Open Chess Tournament in Delhi in 2010 and later to Kolkata for another chess competition. The organisers were so impressed with his energy that they even gifted him a laptop, which has since become his companion.
“We have installed software on it which enables him to practice. Moreover, he also enjoys playing online now,” said Madhukar, who wishes to take his son abroad for advanced training.
It is the inspiration she draws from her son that got Sarla to take up the responsibility of being sarpanch of Nerli, she said. Shailesh is never short of positivity. Once Shailesh’s elder sister was upset over having secured low marks in exams. He gave her a pep talk which helped throughout her education. “Today, she is going to become tehsildar in Kolhapur,” said the proud mother.
Not just this, Shailesh loves helping those in need. He insists on giving away his prize money to for a good cause. “I wish everyone takes inspiration from him, as we do,” Sarla remarked.
At present, a Kolhapur-based industrialist finances Nerlikar in his endeavours. He gets a stipend that enables him to compete in events across the country.
“The organisers are also really supportive of me,” said Shailesh, who dreams of becoming a chess grand master one day.
Nerlikar, who cannot walk or sit, is competing at the ongoing Brain Power U-2000 Int’l Rating Chess event