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Indian chess players hope for fresh moves in new decade

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FIDE decides to restore ratings of banned chess playersChennai, Jan 1 (IANS) Apart from their personal ambitions, Indian chess players are unanimous in hoping that the new decade would not witness any anti-player action by the All India Chess Federation (AICF).

The anti-player actions they fear include banning players and pressurising players directly/indirectly from taking part in independent tournaments, among others.

“Some important issues from the players’ perspective are banning players, even small kids, on unreasonable grounds; the format for selection of players for official and other events. Players can suggest the proper criteria,” International Master Varugeese Koshy 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 hoped the new decade would see the birth of a strong players’ association representing their interests in the AICF with voting rights.

“What can make considerable positive difference in the federation’s functioning is having a players’ association recognised by the AICF. It would be even better if this association has voting rights. Players’ 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, the players do not have any voting right to elect the office bearers and also lack 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 Commonwealth Chess Championship held in Delhi after her appeal was turned down.

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

According to Humpy, the tournament arbiter did not clearly announce the rules relating to time control which resulted in her losing 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 AICF office bearers.

With the AICF split into two factions — one led by President P.R. Venketrama Raja and the other by Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan — and both the factions in favour 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.

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