The chess fever that has gripped the country hosting the 44th Chess Olympiad seems to have rubbed off on the most unlikely place: a police station.
Intriguing names like Capture d’En Passant, Sicilian Defense and Queen’s Gambit echo through the corridors of Fort’s ‘child-friendly’ police station in Thiruvananthapuram which has become a training center for budding chess players.
An assistant sub-inspector (ASI) acts as a chess coach at the station and the initiative attracted almost 50 students within a week of its launch.
The trainees come from economically disadvantaged families in Karimadom Colony, Chala and other localities known for high crime and school dropout rates. The police see the venture, started by the Fort’s Assistant Commissioner S. Shaji and Inspector J. Rakesh, as one that could give the students meaning in their lives.
ASI V. Ajayakumar, the “coach” who is in charge of the child-friendly police station, vouches for the role of chess in improving children’s skills. “Chess is scientifically proven to instill 18 cognitive skills and nine non-cognitive skills. The game, although it is a non-active sport, benefits children by boosting their concentration, decision-making skills and scientific reasoning, as well as their strategic thinking process. It is high time that the game be included in the school curriculum as advocated by our chess icon Viswanathan Anand”, says the officer associated with the Student Police Cadet project of the police of the Kerala for nine years.
Yuggaruphan, a class 5 student at Punnamoodu Government Higher Secondary School in the district, hopes to follow in the footsteps of his idol Anand. Introduced to the world of chess by his father at the age of five, he nurtured the dream of one day becoming a grandmaster.
A dissatisfied Ajayakumar encourages him to represent the country in a Chess Olympiad.