Indian chess players expect new moves in the new decade

CHENNAI: Apart from your personal ambitions, Indians Chess the players are unanimous in expecting that the new decade will not witness any anti-player action by the Indian Chess Federation (AICF)

Anti-player actions they fear include banning players and pressuring players directly/indirectly to participate in independent tournaments, among others.

Some important issues from the players' perspective are the prohibition of players, even young children, for unreasonable reasons; the format for the selection of players for official and other events. Players can suggest the right criteria, International Master Varugeese Koshy He told IANS.

"Starting an Indian Chess League is another thing on our agenda. Even Bangladesh has one since the last 25 years or so. Many Indian players have over the years participated in the Bangladesh league. All the developed countries have their own Chess leagues," he added.

Several players told IANS that they expected the new decade to see the birth of a strong player association that represented their interests in the AICF with the right to vote.

What can make a significant positive difference in the operation of the federation is to have a player association recognized by the AICF. It would be even better if this association has voting rights. Player issues/problems can be raised through this forum, Koshy said.

According to AICF, there are 93,798 registered Chess players in the country. A major share of AICF funds comes from registration/tournament entry fees submitted by the players.

However, players do not have the right to vote to elect the incumbents and do not have an active representation in the AICF.

In the last decade, AICF had banned several upcoming Chess players for many years and also took steps so that global Chess body FIDE revoked their ELO/ Chess ratings.

Even women's world rapid Chess champion Koneru Humpy had to face the wrath of Delhi Chess Association/AICF in 2015 after she withdrew from the Campeonato de Chess de la Commonwealth held in Delhi after its appeal was rejected.

Previously, Humpy was declared lost in time in her fourth round game.

According to Humpy, the tournament referee did not clearly announce the rules related to time control, which resulted in his loss in the fourth round. She withdrew from the tournament citing this as the reason.

The AICF then forwarded a complaint from the Delhi Chess Association to FIDE, seeking appropriate action against Humpy for violating its rules - withdrawing from the tournament without a valid reason and making unjustified accusations against the chief arbiter.

Fortunately for Humpy, the FIDE Ethics Commission dismissed the complaint from DCA as not admissible as the latter is not a member or organ of FIDE and lacks the capacity to represent the general interest that FIDE might have in a case like the present.

Be that as it may, the first year of the new decade is expected to witness an early election to select the holders of AICF positions.

With the AICF divided into two factions, one directed by President P.R. Venketrama Raja and the other by Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, and both factions in favor of early elections, a change at the top seems imminent.

Owing to the private initiative of city-based Microsense Group, the start of the new decade will also see two Chess legends -- former world champion Grandmaster (GM) Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik and GM Boris Gelfand -- training 14 young Indian Chess players.