Documentary featuring Charudutt Jadhav, Darshan, Saikrishna, Anant
Directed by Ian McDonald, Geeta J.
From the first shot of fingers touching and feeling the chess pieces—those pawns and bishops—Ian McDonald sets up a gentle, unhurried and pondering pace for his documentary, Algorithms is about the extraordinary world of ‘blind chess’ in India. The flow is as measured, precise and thought-out as the game itself, at times still and hushed. All with the mellow music of Prasanna in the background. In focus are three young boys—Darshan from Baroda, Sai Krishna from Chennai and Anant from Bhubaneswar—all with the ambition of becoming grandmasters. Their mentor and confidant is the spirited Charudutt Jadhav who, having lost vision at 13, beat the sighted to become a national chess champion. He left it all in 2004 to become a visionary of another sort, devoted to the cause of chess for the blind. The film catches them all through a period of three years—from preparing for the world junior blind chess championship in Sweden in 2009 to the next championship in 2011 in Greece.
The narrative moves seamlessly between the games and competitions to the boys’ homes, neighbourhoods and cities. When it comes to the sport itself, the film plants you on the 64 squares. It’s all about the intricacies of the moves, about control and calculation and pre-empting the opponent. If chess is a thinking sport, then the film tries to take you inside the minds of the three hopefuls. There are nuggets of information—how we may have a blind grandmaster if we...