Chennaiites catch the chess fever

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Is chess still a game of intellectuals? A visit to the bustling Corporation Park on the northern side of the Perambur flyover in the evenings may help convince you it is not so.

A retired state government employee is playing a college schoolboy. A middle aged grocery shop owner is competing against a catering student who has come all the way from Teynampet.

These are just two of the many simultaneous matches taking place across various age groups and cross sections of society at Yoga stage there.

With ‘Vishy’ winning the world title for the fifth time, chess fever is catching on even more with city residents.

“Awareness about the game has spiraled considerably. When the world championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand began, the response among visitors increased further thanks to the wide coverage given by the media for the title match,” quips a senior citizen,

“As compared to a few weeks ago, the keenness to watch and play the game among visitors has shot up considerably with more visitors watching us play,” he adds.

As the sun descends, chess lovers start to pour in and they play till the park closes. “No other place in Chennai provides under privileged people the platform to learn chess and showcase their talent,” says Suresh Kumar of Pulianthope, a graduate. “Interestingly, students from nearby slums have learnt the game by coming here regularly.”

The chess players, however, lamented that several visitors had stopped coming here after police intervention on the ground that they were causing a nuisance.

But chess lovers managed to convince them and things are peaceful now. “Several visitors who did not know chess learnt the game here and have become regular visitors,” explains Ganesh of Vyasarpadi.

Only the sheer love of the game drives dozens to come here daily and play till the park closes. “A champion could emerge from here, who knows?’’ the septuagenarian says wistfully.

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