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Gyan Awatramani coached his son to become a top Canadian youth player, but the experience also taught him the need to invest in chess education.

Over the last decade, he and partner Maxim Doroshenko have provided instruction to more than 4,000 students through the highly successful Vancouver Chess School. Kids of all ages hone their skills in online and in-person classes.

“When my son started playing chess in 2006, we had no infrastructure for this kind of thing,” he says. “Now we’ve built a really strong community.”

As with swimming lessons, the school’s program starts at an absolute beginner level and advances through categories called pre-Knight, Knight, pre-Bishop, Bishop and so on. The school even offers an online test to help students determine which level is best for them.

The online component allows the school to recruit coaches and students from anywhere. Awatramani says they have students in China and Europe, with coaches based in Vancouver but also in Lithuania, Japan, England and other places.

Another innovative component is the Chess Heroes game developed by the school, providing kids with a video game experience as they improve their chess skills.

If Vancouver begins to produce championship-level players, the school may be one reason why.

Maxim Doroshenko v. Dan Bondoc, Romania, 1993

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White to move and win.

White played 35. Rxf8+ Kxf8 36. Qf3+ Ke8 (if Kg8 White has a fork with Ne7) 37. Bxg7 and White’s attack is overwhelming.

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