The game of chess helped this village escape from gambling and alcoholism
A small seed sown by C. Unnikrishnan has not only helped Marottical escape from the clutches of social vices, but also has given it a completely new identity – ‘The Chess Village’.
Chess might seem to be a very easy game to play at first. As an outsider who has never played the game might well argue as to why chess should not be called a sport like it in no manner test the players' physical strength and abilities.
But, the reality is far different. Even a 15 minutes a rapid game of chess can drain a player mentally and physically just from its intensity. And once you start indulging in chess, it grows on you, much like addictions to alcohol and smoking; you cannot really come out of it.
This is what exactly happened to the villagers of Marottichal in Kerala.
A village located in a remote forest area in Northern Kerala, Marottichal was known infamous for vices like alcoholism and gambling in the 1960s and 70s. The majority of the villagers brewed their own alcohol, especially toddy, and were highly addicted to it.
If you thought drinking was the only problem, it certainly was not. Social issues like domestic violence and gambling, which tagged along with excessive drinking, were an addition. In essence, Marottichal was in a total mess.
The sane people in the village tried everything they could to stop this from wreaking havoc. They asked the excise officials to raid the village to get rid of alcohol, but such was the addiction that nothing worked.
This was until a tea shop owner, C. Unnikrishnan came along. Having developed a keen interest in the sport while he was working in the nearby town of Kallur, Unnikrishnan decided to teach chess to his fellow villagers when he returned and opened a tea shop.
And to everyone's surprise, chess took off in Marottichal just in a matter of months. The villagers of Marottichal were suddenly addicted to chess and the graph for alcoholism and gambling fell drastically.
In the present time, every single household in this remote village has at least one person who practices the game of chess. The impact of the game has been such that there are even talks of including chess in the syllabus of school-going kids.
Not only does Marottichal have people from across the globe flocking down to experience the chess culture, it also boasts an Asian record of 1000 players playing the sport at the same time.
A small seed sown by C. Unnikrishnan has not only helped Marottical escape from the clutches of social vices, but also has given it a completely new identity – 'The Chess Village'.