April 25, 2017

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Unnikrishnan, Marottichal, Thrissur

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If the epithet internet-café could be given to a web browsing centre, then the small restaurant run by Unnikrishnan, 59, in Marottichal, a small village in Thrissur district should be considered a chess-café where the village folk drop in for a cup of coffee as often as they come to play a game of chess. Not very long ago, in the 1970s and 80s, they would have been seen frequenting the illicit liquor dispensing points.  Thanks to the efforts of this Knight Exemplar, the village folk slowly switched over from the addiction to the bottle to the cerebral addiction that is chess.

Unnikrishnan was in the 10th standard when he heard of Bobby Fisher, the legendary American chess champion who became a grandmaster at the age of 16.  He picked up the game by traveling to a nearby village.  At that time cheep illicit brew was playing havoc with people’s health and family life in the village.  Once Unnikrishnan mastered the game, he started coaching the villagers of Marottichal how to play it.  Just as there can be only one king in the forest, there can be only one addiction for a man.  People soon fell into the logical addiction  of playing better and better chess, forgetting the bottle.

Unnikrishnan has coached more than 600 persons.  And every house has atleast one player.  The chess club of the village, set up in 2016, has 700 members, who together with other enthusiasts created an Asian record of 1000 villagers playing chess simultaneously.



Courtesy:  K.K.Mustafah (text), The Hindu, March 5, 2017

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