With a new management in place in the All India Chess Federation (AICF), it was high time the body took a host of decisions for the betterment of the sport in the country, Chess Players Forum (CPF) officials said on Thursday.
They also said that the AICF should be transparent, conduct online tournaments till Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, hold National championship in a hybrid mode, market the sport in a better manner, and conduct coaching camps for junior players by roping in Indian and foreign Grandmasters (GM).
"The AICF should turn player-friendly. One of the steps it should take is to unconditionally readmit players who were banned several years ago. The AICF should also comply with the Competition Commission of India's (CCI) 2018 order and withdraw its appeal filed in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) against the order," International Master (IM) and CPF President Varugeese Koshy told IANS.
On July 12, 2018, the CCI had ruled that the undertaking prescribed for players regarding non-participation in events not authorised by the chess bod amounted to "restraints" and was violative of the Competition Act of 2002.
Chess players Karun Duggal and Gurpreet Pal Singh have been fighting the AICF legally for over 10 years after they were banned for playing in a chess tournament not authorised by the chess body.
CPFs Secretary and IM V Saravanan said: "The AICF should also comply with the National Sports Development Code by including prominent Indian chess players in its management. There should also be a proper framework, whereby the AICF and CPF can discuss issues relating to chess and the players."
The players hope that the new management at the AICF would take quick steps to launch the Indian Chess League.
"There are a lot of young Grandmasters, but there are no job opportunities for them. The oil marketing companies and others are not hiring sportspersons and the disinvestment by government will permanently end such recruitment. A chess league may ensure livelihood to chess players," Koshy said.
He said that since there was no world beater from India after five-time World Champion GM Vishwanathan Anand, it was imperative for the AICF to identify young talent and provide necessary coaching and other facilities to turn them into world champions.
Koshy rued that though Anand was at the helm of world chess for over 15 years, the AICF did not market the sport to attract sponsors and there were no tournaments within India for him and other top players to participate in.
Saravanan said that the AICF should also impress upon the central government on the achievements by Indian chess players so that they are considered for Arjuna and Dronacharya awards.
"While mass tournaments are needed to fill up coffers, the importance of class tournaments wherein world's top 10-12 players compete and thereby provide an opportunity to India's young talent to play should not be overlooked," Koshy said.
He also said that the AICF should start holding online prize money tournaments as the Covid-19 pandemic had hit many chess professionals -- players, coaches, and arbiters.
Though there are online chess tournaments organised by several private parties, there have been complaints of non-distribution of promised prize money, he added.
"As the National Chess Championship was not held last year, the AICF should look at a hybrid model, wherein players qualified to play in the nationals can be asked to assemble at a star hotel/hall that is not more than 300-400 km from their residence and play online," Saravanan said.
According to Saravanan, there should be a permanent body with members from players side and the AICF to discuss issues affecting chess players and other matters.
Pointing out that one of the challenges for the new AICF management is to ensure that online chess websites are not banned by various state governments.
"The Andhra Pradesh government has banned chess.com, an online portal, even though online chess Olympiad won jointly by India and Russia was held on the portal," Saravanan said.
Meanwhile, the new team at the helm on the AICF includes President Sanjay Kapoor, Vice Presidents Anantha DP, Bhavesh Patel, Vipnesh Bhardwaj, Ajay Ajmera, PC Lallianthanga, and Niapung Konia. While Bharat Singh Chauhan is the new Secretary, Rajesh R, Mahendra Dhakal, Atul Kumar, Mughaho Awomi, Diljeet Khanna and Atanu Lahiri are the Joint Secretaries. Naresh Sharma is the new Treasurer.