Over 1500-year-old Kalyani Devi temple, in Allahabad, is famous for drawing thousands of devotees. Besides these devotees, the temple is also visited by chess players and champions as the temple is known to share a unique bond with the game.
“It is perhaps the only temple where priests can talk about chess and legends like Anand, Bobby Fischer and Garry Casparov,” said Pandit Shyamji Pathak, son of late Ramji Pathak, the chief priest.
Pathak is also known for chess and wrestling.
“He had started promoting chess some three-decade backs. Himself a great player of chess and wrestling, whatever time he used to get after offering prayers to Maa Kalyani, he used to spend time in honing his skills in chess. He started district level championship in 1990 to promote local youth. In 1992, he organised state-level championship,” said Shyamji, who started organising the championship following his father’s death in 2002.
“With the blessings of Goddess Kalyani many renowned chess players, who used to attend these competitions at the local level, made their name in the country and abroad. Some of them include Dinesh Sharma who is International Master, Gajendra Singh Chauhan, Hariom Sharma, ND Singh and Pradeep Pathak who became district champion at the age of 14 years. He was seven times open state champion and even got the job in GPO (post office) from sports quota,” he added.
ND Singh, another chess player, got the job at Delhi Public School in Greater Noida due to his skills in the chess game. He said that he got the inspiration to play the game from the priests of Kalyani Devi temple only.
“I now run online Guru Chess Academy to given coaching to budding players,” he added.