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The Indian Village That Took Up Chess as an Alternative to Drinking

The people of Marottichal, a sleepy little village in the state of Kerala in southern India, have a rather unusual passion for chess. Believe it or not, they’re all chess enthusiasts. Their love for the game is such that even when they’re not playing, they’re talking strategy all the time.

But villagers weren’t always interested in the checkered board game. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, their passions lay elsewhere – mainly in the local liquor that they made for a living. Many of the residents were addicted to the cheap brew, with disastrous consequences for the whole community. Things got so bad at one point that a few villagers actually requested government authorities to raid the village and get rid of some of their liquor stock.

But things began to change when one villager – a 10th grade student named C. Unnikrishnan – decided that he wanted to learn chess. Inspired by a news report about American legend Bobby Fischer, a grandmaster at age 16, Unnikrishnan traveled to a nearby village to attend classes and learn the game himself. And once he got the hang of it, he made it his mission to get everyone in the village hooked.

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Thai Fortuneteller Uses Chess to Predict the Future

If you’re eager to know when you’re going to get that much-awaited promotion or if you will ever meet the love of your life, move your pawn to C3 and let Amunnata Lamwanna  (Ajarn Nong, by her prophetic name) predict the outcome of the chess game that is your life. That’s right, Ajarn Nong, a fortuneteller from Thailand, uses chess to predict the future.

After a failed marriage, giving birth to a premature child and being homeless for a while, Amunnata Lamwanna got a job in public relations, working for a famous fortuneteller who thought it would be wise of her to pursue the same career. After studying everything under the stars, she finally became a fortuneteller herself and adopted her current name, Ajarn Nong. The idea of chess prediction came to her when she saw people playing chess in the park. She soon began developing a new method of telling the future that involved the popular strategy board game. “I invented a way of fortunetelling using a chessboard set up to show the position of the stars in Thai-style astrology, as well as cards and feng shui, in which each star indicates your horoscope. The method was completed in 2010, and the first person I used it on was my husband,” she explains.

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