Karthik is a history research scholar from Chennai who moonlights as an arbiter at chess tournaments. Sent to Lucknow by his professor, he discovers the city’s fascinating chess legacy, culture, and love.
Karthik connects it all:
— How the British swindled the chess-loving King of Awadh, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah
— How the Queen, also a super-sharp chess player, Begum Hazrat Mahal, led India’s first war of Independence
— Munshi Premchand’s short story “The Chess Players” and it’s film adaptation by the great Satyajit Ray
— the King’s great great granddaughter who became India’s first woman Billiards player
— a librarian from America and his funny tryst with the kids of a chess club
— chess motifs in Lucknow’s chikan embroidery, heritage chess sets, a seniors-only tournament, the witches’ lane, cuisine of Awadh, Urdu poetry, mosques, temples and churches, Claude Martin’s La Martiniere, the Imambaras and more…
At the same time, Karthik is attracted to his professor’s daughter, a master-level chess player, but is unable to tell her as she has been trapped by a rogue boyfriend.
Zih-e-Lucknow is a sweet part-fiction part-history novella, for young readers by a young author, to enjoy with chess positions from the games of the great Mir Sultan Khan.
As the writer says in his dedication: To lovers of chess, To lovers of Lucknow, To lovers.