Grandmaster S.L. Narayanan hopes to blaze a trail that will play a small role in popularising chess in Kerala. The 22-year-old, who was nominated by All India Chess Federation for the prestigious Arjuna award, is hoping to become the first chess player from Kerala to win it.

Narayanan feels chess players in Kerala often struggle for recognition when compared to sportspersons from other games.

"Kerala is always known for its athletes, footballers and others who excel in physical sports. But a cerebral game like chess is not very popular here. I am the first chess player from Kerala to be nominated for the award. If I get it the Arjuna award will mean a lot to me and for the game. It would help to break down the general perception the public has about chess. Maybe it is the catalyst which we need to popularise the game in Kerala, '' said Narayanan.

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"My performance in the last four years has been pretty good. I had won  a bronze medal in World Juniors in Bhubaneswar, a silver medal in the commonwealth championship in Sri lanka and couple of other good tournaments. I applied though the federation which was kind enough to nominate me, '' he said.

Narayanan, despite his achievements on the chessboard, is still unemployed and is searching for a job. He has no sponsor and there is no support from the state government. Nevertheless, Narayanan is soldiering on with the help from his parents.

He is hopeful that things will change for the better with the Arjuna award.