Tuesday July 6, 2010
Businessman believes chess holds the key to life
Story and photos By PRIYA MENON
MANY know that the man behind Masterskill Education Group Bhd, Datuk Sri Edmund Santhara, is an enthusiastic businessman but most are unaware of his hidden talent and passion, a good game of chess.
Chess is a game that hails from India some 5,000 years ago and Edmund believes the game resembles the battlefield and theoretically represents an equal setting where both opponents have the same number of players.
Edmund, a busy businessman, has incorporated his love for the intellectual game with his work, creating a space at the office and home that would be the envy of chess enthusiasts around the world.
He first began playing the intricate game in kindergarten and became an open chess player for Malaysia.
From master chess player, Edmund — who is also the Kuala Lumpur Chess Association President — has become a collector of Chess pieces and boards from around the world.
Today Edmund has 500 Chess sets which he has been collecting actively for the past five years. His career takes him all over the world and the one thing he brings home from his travels are the Chessboards.
“I feel really happy when I see the Chessboard, it is something I am familiar with. In the beginning, I bought one or two pieces that I liked the most but in the end, I fell in love with collecting the pieces,” he said.
Edmund added that not many people collected such pieces. Initially, he also did not realise that collecting the pieces would turn into an expensive affair.
The cheapest set he has is a standard chessboard that costs about RM15 and the most expensive would probably be a unique Mother of Pearl chessboard worth RM 50,000 from Hong Kong.
For Edmund, the chessboards make very beautiful decorative items and gift sets. In fact, VVIP guests who visit Masterskill will be given a chessboard as a token of appreciation.
The criteria for each chessboard is the attention to detail each piece carries. He also added that the board was just as important as the chess pieces.
He has several unique pieces in his possession including an Egyptian Chessboard, a sandalwood set, an antique silver set and a chessboard for the blind.
Each set is unique in its own way, like the Egyptian set with Pharaohs and the Mother of Pearl set which is handmade with intricate details.
He is determined to build a gallery to show off his pieces both at home and at the site of the new Masterskill University College.
Edmund says business and life were similar to Chess. There are common objectives and goals, and all the pieces are integrated and work as a team.
No pieces are moved for the sake of it and each step has to be meticulously planned and supported.
‘You also have problems in chess, and in the business world we have so many problems. We solve them bit by bit just like the problems that arise in chess,” he said.
The words of an unknown author, “In life as in chess, forethought wins” is written on his office wall, emphasising his belief in the world and its interaction with chess.