The game of Chess was known as “Chaturanga” in Sanskrit, meaning four divisions, in the 6th century and believed to have originated in Eastern India. The game highlights the intelligence and mental training of the players and has been scientifically proved that champions in the game have above average IQs. Chess players have the capacity to memorize moves and patterns and with practice, they master the game. The chess experts are estimated to store from 10,000 to 30,000 position patterns in their memory. This is something amazing and astonishing which makes this game exceptional.
Chess is most popular in countries like Iceland, Armenia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Russia. India as a country also has great Chess players and the popularity has increased over the years and is growing fast. Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand has been an inspiration for a lot of youngsters and parents to encourage their wards into the game. But there is a village in south India which has a very different reason for playing Chess; at least the reason to start it is very unique!
A slow-moving, placid, quiet, peaceful, sleepy village 25 kms from Amballur in Thrissur district of Kerala has a village with a population of 9000 and around 90% of them play Chess. This Chess playing village is – Marottichal.
It is a known fact that in the 60s and 70s this village was addicted to alcohol and almost every family was troubled by liquor made locally in the village. Either the villagers were involved in brewing liquor or were consuming it. Slowly it spread to that extent that the whole community was suffering from it. The sufferings were so severe that villagers called the excise officials to raid the village. Then 16 years, C. Unnikrishnan, inspired by the young American Grandmaster Bobby Fisher got hooked to the game and started learning the Chess moves. His interest in the game went to the extent where he got addicted to the game and started giving free lessons to others. Today he runs a restaurant and has trained over 700 people. He also has a small shed where players from age 8 years to 80 years come and hone their skills in Chess.
The villagers trained by Unnikrishnan are so addicted or call it their determination to eradicate the alcohol addiction, that today males, females, young, and children everyone play the game with same intensity and zeal. The enthusiasm and appetite of the villagers have even been praised by five times World Chess Champion – Vishwanathan Anand.
Marottichal inspires all that if determined anything can be done. It’s an example to show that you always don’t need legends to show direction; sometimes just the resolve and will can bring the change. If alcohol addiction can be replaced by Chess addiction than all other big social issues can also be tackled and resolved by us. Unnikrishnan endeavor gives us a lesson that individual contribution makes difference to a level where it can bring change in the society.
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