The Indian village that played chess!

This is not really a beginner’s chess post but I just had to write about this. Chess is such a phenomenal game and due to many believing it originated from India, a major power in South Asia is more than familiar with this game. But imagine can a game like chess save someone’s life? Surprisingly, yes! This is exactly what happened to the residents of Marottichal, a village in Thrissur district of Kerala are the example of this phenomena. Almost everyone in the village, irrespective of age and gender, is a player of chess and alcohol is the last thing which comes in the villagers’ minds

In the latter half of 20th century, the main occupation of the villagers was brewing the liquor. In addition, they were also addicted to drinking the same locally brewed alcohol. Soon this addiction started showing disastrous effects on the people’s lives and they realized that this habit must be stopped to save their community. So they decided to stop brewing liquor by convincing the officials to raid their village and stop this illegal occupation.

But there was another problem they had to face; they had no other hobby than drinking. They had to find a new interesting and harmless hobby to focus their attention. This problem was solved by C. Unnikrishnan, then a 10th-grade student.

He read about Bobby Fischer, who became a grandmaster at a younger age of 16. This inspired Unnikrishnan and he decided to learn chess. He used to attend chess classes in a nearby village. When he became a good chess player, he decided to share this game’s skills with others and convinced the other villagers to learn and play the game as a hobby. He gave free lessons on chess in his home.

The villagers who were dealing with the after-effects of drinking; readily accepted this game and soon, chess grabbed their attention and passion. Now, villagers will be seen either playing chess or thinking about tactics and moves. Almost 600 people have been trained by him in 40 years, many of them have won state and national level chess tournaments.

Chess has become an identity of Marottichal. According to Sreenivasan, president of the local Gram Panchayat – an organization for self-governance in Indian villages, about 90% villagers are chess players. Last year in August, Marottichal has been announced as the only “chess-village” in India. Grandmaster and five times World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand congratulated the residents’ efforts for creating such distinction.

Because of increasing enthusiasm of villagers for chess, Unnikrishnan had to shift his chess classes from his home and now he runs a restaurant where everyone interested in chess is welcomed and many people, playing chess can be frequently observed in the restaurant. Unnikrishnan once said in an interview, “Chess is my passion. Once I start playing, I forget everything. It’s kind of an addiction.”

The villagers give all the credit of their community’s success in chess to Unnikrishnan. In 2013, a Malayalam movie “August Club” has been made which shows the love and passion of the villagers for the chess. What an amazing story!

5 Beginner Chess Tips to Prevent Typical Mistakes

Chess is one of the most engaging games played all over the world. Be it a professional or a newcomer anyone can improve at chess by practicing but that doesn’t mean you can’t start off good. We reviewed some of the most basic mistakes rookies make. So that you can avoid them when you start playing chess.

Making excessive moves with Pawns

In the opening, make fewer moves with the pawns, and they should cover the center of the board and take control of the game. By moving too many pawns in the start (a mistake made by the rookies) the development and gameplay of Knights and bishops are delayed and also the King is left exposed for too long. One should move few pawns in the start. Develop the more powerful pieces “Bishops and Knights” and then use the pawns to proceed in the game and save your important pieces.

Weakening the Castling

During the opening, we place our pieces strategically around our king to form a castle of sorts to make the defense of our king strong and we try not to over crowd the board in one place. The pawns should develop with the knights and the bishops playing parallel. The queen should be a part of the castle and must not be prematurely developed throughout the game.

Keeping pieces undefended

As I have mentioned before, do not overcrowd the board by placing too many pawns at one place but do keep enough pawns around every single piece to make sure the defense is strong enough against enemy’s moves.

Proper castling of each and every important piece at the right time is the true essence of a game played by a chest maestro.

Giving up too early

Chess has a large number of defensive resources. The tough you keep your resistance the higher are the chances you have to steal away half a point or you might even get a chance to steal the whole one. Even if at any point in the game you feel that you are in danger, you should stay calm and look for chances to make counter-plays or any chance to save yourself from losing the game. You should stay calm and stand your ground, you shouldn’t forget that your opponent is also human and they also tend to blunder time by time.

Poor Time Management

This is a problem which is common among amateurs and the top 10 pro players both. When you start the game off and when things start to get complicated you might start playing superficially and getting nervous, these things will make you blunder and choose wrong moves. To win the game you have to be confident and not waste your time while being nervous and lost throughout the game. Have trust in the moves you make and manage the time in a way which will prove helpful against your opponent.