World number two female player protests

10/22/2009 – "I am very unhappy to inform that I have withdrawn my participation in the Asian Indoor Games 2009 to be held at Vietnam due to some nasty circumstances caused by Mr. D.V. Sundar, Secretary, All India Chess Federation." That is the start of a press release sent to us by Koneru Humpy, the second strongest female player in the world, and the second to cross the 2600 rating mark. Humpy's protest.

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PRESS RELEASE

22nd October, 2009.

I am very unhappy to inform that I have withdrawn my participation in the Asian Indoor Games 2009 to be held at Vietnam due to some nasty circumstances caused by Mr. D.V. Sundar, Secretary, All India Chess Federation (AICF). As you know Chess is a mind game. So, I need to be mentally peaceful to perform well. I was put under lot of pressure and stress by Mr. Sundar that I am upset and not in a position to participate in a prestigious event for the country.

Today, I am bringing all the happenings between me and Mr. D.V. Sundar to make the things clear to everyone.

Regarding Asian Indoor Games 2009

After confirming my participation in Asian Indoor Games 2009 I requested IOA (Indian Olympic Association) to allow my personal trainer Mr. Koneru Ashok (Dronacharya Awardee) to the event. They responded favorably and asked me to get a letter from AICF. I requested the Secretary, AICF for the same through email. He didn’t respond. Then my father contacted him by phone and made a request for which he refused and kept some terms. He bargained with my father that he will see that AICF bears his expenses if I confirm my participation in all the forthcoming Women tournaments. I gave my confirmation to the tournaments accordingly. But Mr.Sundar did not keep up his promise and he said that in case my father accompanies me for the tournament he has to bear his expenses. I do not want to make this an issue. As Asian Indoor Games means playing for the country, my father decided to bear his expenses and accompany me as my trainer.

Permission to play in two International tournaments abroad

In the meantime, I happen to apply for permission from AICF to play in two International tournaments abroad. As I am representing PSPB (Petroleum Sports Promotion Board), I am supposed to get permission from AICF to participate in International tournaments as per its guidelines. Generally AICF will give permission unless the tournaments applied are clashing with the Official tournaments like World Championships, Asian Games etc.

But to my surprise, Mr. Sundar didn’t give me permission to play in the Gibtelecom Chess festival to be held at Gibraltar from 26th Jan. to 4th Feb., 2010. The reason is that an International tourney will be held at Chennai during those dates. Let me clarify that, it’s just an International tournament, not an Official event.


D.V. Sundar (right) receiving a formal letter of recognition as Honorary Secretary of the AICF from FIDE Continental president for Asia Khalifa Mohamad AL-Hitmi in Doha on March 30 2005.

As a player I must have the freedom to choose the tourney I am going to play. Gibtelecom is a prestigious event where I can compete with my peers as a World No. 2 women player. In this event world class players like present and former Women World Chess Champions and many more Super Grandmasters will be participating.

This is not the first time such incident took place.

Permission to participate in two tournaments in Greece

In August this year, I made a request for permission to participate in two tournaments in Greece, for which Mr. Sundar has not responded at all. In fact there is no reason for him to object my participation in those tournaments. That is why he didn’t give any reply.

But what am I supposed to do in such circumstances?

I suffered due to his insane behavior and didn’t get the usual clearances from PSPB. In spite of that I played the tournaments as I have already agreed with the organizers to participate but failed to perform well due to the severe pressure he created.

During the World Championship at Nalchik, Russia

Another incident took place in September 2008 during the World Championship at Nalchik, Russia. My return flight ticket was booked by AICF in the middle of the event instead of booking it after completion of the event which caused lot of disturbance. My father who accompanied me as a personal trainer by bearing all the expenses personally has to leave me alone in the hotel room before the crucial stage of the tournament (semi-finals) and left to change the dates of return tickets. So, my father had to travel six hours by road to and fro to the Aeroflot Airlines Office and spent there around three hours for that purpose.


Humpy with her father and trainer Koneru Ashok

That means I missed him the whole day during the practice. It has deeply disturbed our routine practice sessions. There is no official manager or coach at that time to look after such things.

Isn’t it the responsibility of the Secretary, AICF to see that there will be an official manager to take care of players in the highest titled event in the game of Chess i.e. the Women World Chess Championship?

Besides this, on the same day Mr. Sundar called to my hotel room at Nalchik and put pressure on me to participate in the Olympiad even though I intimated him about my unavailability for that event long back.

Regarding issue of Certificates

After completion of the World Championship I requested AICF to issue the certificate that I won the Bronze medal. In practice AICF issues certificates for such events like World Youth Championships, Asian Games, Asian Indoor Games etc. Mr. Sundar said that he will issue the certificate after confirming with FIDE (World Chess Federation) but didn’t turn up. After waiting for a long time, I contacted FIDE and got the certificate directly from them.

Doesn’t the Secretary of AICF have the responsibility in such matters?

Warning letter to me

For the first time in my career I went alone (without my father and personal trainer Mr. Koneru Ashok) to play in the Chess Olympiad 2006 at Turin, Italy. I was sick throughout the tournament. My teammate and good friend Swati Ghate took me to the doctor. I was under medication throughout the tourney and inspite of that I played 12 games out of 13.

Can anyone guess the reward that Mr. Sundar has given me for this?

“It’s a warning letter from Mr. Sundar that I didn’t wear the t-shirts provided by the AICF and that he has forgiven me as it is first time. He warned me that Action will be taken if it repeats again.”

Let me explain where in the world these t-shirts came from. Those are given by AICF to wear during the games. But the ones given to me didn’t suit me. So, I borrowed two of them from another team mate Mary Ann Gomes. I managed with those two shirts in the tournament (15 days) and may be I missed them in one or two games to get this wonderful letter from Mr. Sundar.

Of course Mr. Sundar is very passionate about issuing such warning letters to players. His recent victim is GM G.N. Gopal.


        Growing up into a chess star: photos from the family album

Mr. Sundar’s Chess understanding is very poor and he is insisting me to play in all the tournaments he mentions. And if I don’t accept that he is creating hurdles. He is trying to keep players under his control. Being a world No. 2 player I will have my preferences in selecting the tournaments keeping my rating and world ranking in view. I don’t think that a person who doesn’t know the game of Chess and who doesn’t know my preparation strategies can blindly insist me about the tournaments I have to play.

Inspite of the ridiculous administration of Mr. Sundar, the AICF is still producing good results because there are some good organizers who know Chess, like Mr. Bharat Singh Chauhan (Delhi), Mr. R.M. Dongre (Mumbai), Mr.Soumen Majumdar (Kolkota), and they are frequently conducting International events.

Mr. Sundar is testing my patience during all these times. Every time I am adjusting myself and letting things pass on without making an issue. But every now and then he is troubling me. Now I am bringing all these things to the notice of everyone because I can not bear this any longer.

If a world level player like me is suffering so much because of Mr. Sundar, what is the position of upcoming players? It’s time for everyone to think of it.

Koneru Humpy
Chess Grandmaster


Koneru Humpy

Born on March 31, 1987, in Gudivada, Andhra Pradesh (India), Koneru Humpy has a current FIDE rating of 2595. Her top rating was achieved in July 2009 and reached 2623, making Humpy the second female player in history to cross the 2600 rating mark (she had been rated 2600+ since April 2008). These are the September 2009 world rankings – Humpy had just lost 28 points and for the first time in over a year dipped below the 2600 mark.

Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Year
 1  Polgar, Judit  g  HUN  2687  0  1976
 2  Koneru, Humpy  g  IND  2595  25  1987
 3  Hou, Yifan  g  CHN  2585  9  1994

From 2002 through 2008, Humpy held the record as the youngest woman ever to become a grandmaster (not merely a Woman Grandmaster), which she achieved at the age of 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgar's previous mark by three months. However, this has since been surpassed by Hou Yifan. In 2001 she won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship. In 2006 she participated in the Women's World Chess Championship, but was eliminated in the second round. In the Women's World Chess Championship 2008 she made it to the semi-finals, but was beaten by Hou Yifan.

Humpy was originally named Hampi, (after the ancient city) by her parents, but her father later changed it to Humpy, a more Russian-sounding name. She writes her family name (Koneru) before her given name, as is the convention with Telugu speaking people.


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