The Chess Players Forum (CPF) representing the interests of Indian chess players has termed the resignation of Grandmaster R.B. Ramesh from the team Selection Committee as shocking and shameful.
“It is really shameful and shocking to see a reputed and proven coach like Ramesh resigning. The reasons or which faction caused it can be explained only by Ramesh himself. Their infighting is directly affecting players now. Sad indeed,” CPF President and International Master (IM) Varugeese Koshy told IANS.
On Tuesday a media statement from All India Chess Federation (AICF) Secretary Vijay Deshpande (belonging to President P.R. Venketrama Raja faction) announced the resignation of Ramesh alleging interference by Bharat Singh Chauhan in the Indian team selection process for the first Online Chess Olympiad.
While confirming his resignation to IANS from the selection committee, he declined to comment further on the issue.
“This is the first major casualty for chess and chess players after the factional fights started. It’s a shame to lose an acclaimed coach, a member of the FIDE Trainers Commission, from an important responsibility in Indian Chess due to a tiff with the Federation, that too in full glare if the chess world,” International Master V. Saravanan, Secretary, CPF told IANS.
Though Ramesh has not commented on the issue officially, his resignation is obviously because of his getting sick of being pressured on a selection matter, Saravanan added.
The AICF is divided into two factions — one led by Raja and the other by Secretary Chauhan.
The leaders of the two factions with their respective supporters had removed each other from their posts.
However, the central government recognises Raja and Chauhan as AICF’s President and Secretary.
“The moment Ramesh’s resignation was made public, both factions came up with press releases with lightning speed. Especially when they haven’t come up with a single public statement about chess activities and assisting chess players after the strike of the pandemic so far,” Saravanan said.
Soon after FIDE announced the holding of Online Chess Olympiad from July 22 onwards, Chauhan and Deshpande had sent two different list of players for the Indian team to Ramesh.
While the two lists had common names when it came to senior players, in the case of junior players, the lists had different names, raising the hopes and ambitions of eight players.
As per the existing rules, players for Chess Olympiad would be selected based on their international ratings. However, the National Champion will get an added bonus of 50 rating points and Women Champion 25 rating points.
Further the player to be eligible for consideration should be active player having participated in at least 9 games in FIDE rated tournaments within six months prior to the selection.
Announcing the resignation of Ramesh and the reason for that on Tuesday Deshpande said Chauhan insisted on including the name of a Delhi player (Tania Sachdev) and when pointed out by Ramesh that she did not qualify on technical grounds, the former had forwarded the confidential mails directly to the player concerned.
“Protesting against this, the ex-British Chess Champion (Ramesh) tendered his resignation immediately,” Deshpande said.
According to the statement, Ramesh’s resignation has not been accepted.
When contacted for his reaction Chauhan told IANS: “The list of players suggested by us were approved by Ramesh. The players were informed about their selection and their consent to participate in the tournament were obtained.
“When a selected player is dropped then equity demands that the player be informed and which is what I did,” Chauhan said.
Sachdev had to be dropped as she had not played a minimum of nine games over the relevant period but had played only seven games.
Though there were other GMs with much higher ratings, National Champion Grand Master Aravindh Chidambaram (Elo rating 2,641) got into the team as reserve with 50 bonus points getting added to his rating.
However, some basic questions that need answers:
Why did Ramesh/Selection Committee accept the two lists – one from Chauhan and the other from Deshpande? It is a known fact there can be only one Secretary for AICF.
It is known the government recognises Raja as the AICF President and Chauhan as the Secretary and both are at logger heads.
Meanwhile Deshpande in his statement said the final list of players approved by Ramesh who would represent India are:
1. Viswanathan Anand
2. Vidit Santosh Gujarati
3. P. Harikrishna – Reserve
4. Aravindh Chidambaram – Reserve
1. Koneru Humpy
2. Dronavali Harika
3. Bhakti Kulkarni – Reserve
4. R. Vaishali – Reserve
1. Nihal Sarin
2. R. Pragnanandhaa – Reserve
1. Divya Deshmukh
2. Vantika Agarwal – Reserve