Chess charity at RCMS helps kids in Turkey and Syria after earthquake

Picture taken by Jenifer Masood Ameya Haldanker, an eighth-grader on the Explorers team giving a speech at the event


 All you could hear on May 20 at RCMS was the sound of chess pieces clacking against dozens of chess boards and maybe the thundering applause of a few 1000 donations coming through.This was at the RCMS chess tournament, working hard to support the kids in Turkey and Syria.

“There were several inspirations for the event and one of them was the Ukraine charity event last year and it was really motivating for us to see people come together at the event,” said Ameya Haldanker, an eighth-grader on the Explorers team and president of the chess club.

The event was a huge success as there were over 100 players at the event and over $5,500 were raised to the UNICEF charity, in efforts of the earthquake.TJ representatives, Charity presidents and the superintendent of our school congratulated Ameya for his outstanding work planning the event.

“When we learned about the earthquake and the lives it claimed, we realized we had to do something about it,” said Ameya.

The death toll for the earthquake was over 59,000 along with 130,000 people being injured. According to, an estimated 51,000 kids in Syria under the age of 5 are likely to suffer from malnutrition and about 1.9 million kids had their education disrupted.

“I think it’s really sad that they were not prepared for the earthquake and they didn’t know what was going to happen to them,” said Husna Jalili, a seventh-grader on the Legacy team.

About 40% of children in parts of Turkey are already living below the poverty line because of the earthquake.

“It’s really sad because there’s kids who were affected and it’s just really devastating honestly,” said Lisa Kinouhova, a seventh grader on the Majestics team.

Behind the huge success of the event, many hours of preparation went into it.

Ameya said, “We contacted many businesses in-person and online for sponsorships as well as had weekly Monday Zoom meetings to collaborate.”

Many Turkish charities donated food such as baklava, Turkish bread and even cupcakes baked by Mrs.Masood. Along with all of this there was also pizza, coffee and refreshments.

“Everytime you wanted to buy food or something, you had to make a donation to UNICEF,” said Lisa.

Many volunteers helped to make the preparation less hectic.

Over a 100 players participated in the event and even TJ representatives along with the superintendent had come to the event.

“Getting to play chess with people was really the best part for me,” said Lisa.

One memorable experience for a lot of people was when Ameya played a round of chess against the county superintendent and won against her.

“Overall it was really a good experience and it was really just very encouraging,” said Ameya.

Every week, the county superintendent sends a weekly email on stuff or events happening in FCPS and Ameya and our chess club got a mention in it.

“I just had a lot of fun in the tournament and I might do this with other schools,” said Ameya.