There is a small little village in Northern Kerala – Marrotichal. It was like any other village in the state – doomed because of alcoholism and illicit gambling. One man, Unnikrishnan, changed all that. He was from the same village and used to go to a nearby village, Kallur to play chess. A thought struck him. He opened a tea shop and along with tea, he started teaching the tea-sipping villagers the game of chess.
The game really caught on and 50 years since then, today in the village of 6000 people, 4000 of them know and play chess. You go to the schools there; almost every child knows and plays chess. In fact they want to make chess as a part of their school curriculum. You do spot teenagers pouring into their smartphones but most of the times, they are planning chess online!
Every household has at least one chess board and one addict – chess addict. The village is famous today as the “chess village” and tourists from as far away as Germany and USA come to learn and play chess there.
It is amazing, how one man’s out-of-the-box thinking has changed the very fabric of Marrotichal, for the good. A 1000 year old game, which originated in India, is today celebrated, inculcating a spirit of community, healthy mind and keeping one away from all addictions – TV, Whatsapp, Facebook and of course, alcohol!