GM to be banned for not playing in National Championship?

by ChessBase
3/15/2009 – G.N. Gopal, 19, is one of India's bright young stars, with high ambitions for the next Asian and the World Junior Championship. Unfortunately he may not be able to participate. The Indian Chess Federation is considering a one-year ban, since Gopal failed to play in the national championship (he had a prior contractual obligation to play in an event in Mexico). Media news and Gopal's views.

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AICF not to field Gopal in Indian teams for a year

P.K. Ajith Kumar

Kozhikode: Thursday, Mar 12, 2009 – The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has decided not to recommend Grandmaster G.N. Gopal — who had skipped the last National ‘A’ championship despite being warned by the federation — to represent India in any official tournaments for a year with immediate effect. That, in effect, puts the Kochi-based player out of any official Indian team for one year.

The decision was taken in Chennai at the AICF Central Council meeting, which found his reasons for staying away from the last National ‘A’ championship held in Mangalore last December, and playing in a tournament overseas instead, not satisfactory. He is, however, free to play in tournaments for which he is personally invited.

“The AICF had asked him to play in the National ‘A’ championship, which is the qualifying event for the Indian team for various international tournaments, but he chose to play in an event abroad,” the AICF Secretary, D.V. Sundar told The Hindu on Wednesday. “We had sent him a show cause notice, to which he replied that he had committed to the organisers of the tournament abroad (Torneo GM knockout tournament in Mexico) some eight months earlier. So, he had decided to play in that tournament that long ago, but didn’t inform the AICF.”

Mr. Sundar said the federation took the decision not to field Gopal in the Indian teams for a year because it was not the first act of indiscipline by the player. “Earlier, he had opted out of the Indian team on a few occasions, citing some excuses,” he explained. “Since he didn’t intimate his unavailability in time, players from the reserves list lost the opportunity to play overseas. But, we had decided to be lenient to him on those occasions and hadn’t taken any action,” he said.

Original article in The Hindu

Players' body backs 'barred' Gopal

Vijay Tagore

Mumbai: Thursday, March 12, 2009 – The Gopal family has not recovered from the shock. "It will take a while before we overcome this," said G Narain Pillay, a retired English lecturer. "I've spent all my earnings to fund my son's career in chess. Now, they say he can't play." Pillay is devastated.

The All-India Chess Federation (AICF) has not yet communicated to GN Gopal its decision to stop him from playing any official tournament in India or abroad. But the AICF refused to term the punishment as a ban. "We have to draw a line at some point of time. We cannot tolerate indiscipline from players," said RM Dongre, vice-president of the AICF. The decision to punish Gopal was taken at the AICF's Central committee meeting held in Chennai on Tuesday. The charges against Gopal include, refusal to take part in the National A tournament in December.

AICF's secretary DV Sundar said the association would not tolerate such indiscipline. But the Chess Players Association of India (CPAI) said the players' body was not being informed of the decisions taken at the AICF meetings. "We would also like to bring to your notice that decisions pertaining to players taken in AICF meetings are not communicated to the players. Hence the players are not aware of all the rules and regulations," the CPAI said in a written statement to the AICF after it showcaused Gopal.

Gopal's father said his son could not take part in the National A because he was committed to playing a tournament in Mexico on the same dates. "There are many instances of players skipping the National A but the AICF did not take any action. The punishment against Gopal is very harsh," said Verghese Koshy, a senior player and reputed coach. CPAI president GM Tejas Bakre said it would request the AICF to reconsider its decision.

As soon as the above news broke we contacted Gopal and asked him about his take on the matter. Gopal, who is a charming and sincere person, replied in multiple emails that he had received no direct or official communication on the matter from the All India Chess Federation, and did not want to take a public stand until this was forthcoming. It was clear that he and his family were quite distraught by the news. As we kept pressing he sent us the following letter today.

Geetha Narayanan Gopal, nineteen years old, GM since 2007

First of all thank you for your concern. Let me give you further details which you have sought from me.

It was from a section of the print media that I came to know that I was banned from representing India from official International events for one year with immediate effect (see stories above). However I have not yet received any communication regarding the decision of the AICF in this regard. As I understand, the charge against me was my non-participation in the Indian Championship held in Mangalore in December 2008.

<img data-cke-saved-src="" src="" style="float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-bottom: 5px; width=" 300"="" height="214">I accepted the invitation from the organizers of the Carlos Torre Memorial tournament in Mexico on 21st July 2008.Accordingly they sent me an air-ticket Bombay-Paris, Paris-Mexico city, Mexico city-Merida and back. On the other hand the schedule of the Indian Championship was confirmed much later. Naturally, I wrote to the All India Chess Federation (AICF) expressing my inability to participate in the Indian Championship owing to my prior commitment in Carlos Torre Memorial tournament. Incidentally it’s to be noted that the schedule of both the tournaments clashed with each other. I had to honor my previous commitment and hence had to skip the Indian championship.

In February 2009, I was issued a show cause notice by the AICF for my non-participation in the Indian Championship and for my participation in the Mexican tournament. Further I was asked about my non-participation in some past events, namely the Canadian Open in July 2008 and the India-Armenia friendly match for youth, December 2008. In fact in all these cases I had expressed my inability to participate much before they took place, and it is disheartening that the All India Chess Federation brought back these issues and considered it a misconduct.

The decision of the All India Chess Federation to ban me for one year from the Indian team, if correct, is really shocking to me. In such a situation I am afraid, I may not be able to participate in the forthcoming Asian Individual Championship and the World Junior Championship. As regards the World Junior, it’s my last chance in the junior category.

I am thankful to the Chess Players Association of India (CPAI) and the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) for their concern.

Yours truly,

Note that his name is Gopal, and in the South Indian system you call him that if you know him well. If you wish to be formal you must address him as Mr. Gopal. Never call him Geetha, which is his mother's name (Narayana is his father, these being added to the given name in the Indian tradition). In lists and records he is simply GN Gopal.

Name: G.N. Gopal
Age & Date of Birth: 19 years, 29-03-1989
Parents - Father: Prof: B. Narayana Pillai
Mother: Prof: Geetha Prakasini

Chess Career Highlights

  • He represented India in the prestigious Chess Olympiad at Dresden, Germany on Nov 2008.He represented India in the 1st World Mind Sports Games (WMSG).
  • In Asian individual championship 2007,Gopal qualified to the FIDE World Cup 2007 by finishing 9th in this continental championship.
  • Silver medal in Asian zonal 3.2 held at Dhaka 2007.
  • Gopal won the individual board prize gold medal and the Indian team won the silver medal. (In the Asian Team Chess Championship, at Vizag from 3rd Jan to 9th Jan 2008)
  • Shared second spot in the 9th Banja Luka Grandmasters tournament, 2008.
  • Current Elo rating of 2555.

Miscellaneous events

  • Clear second spot in Gjovic GM swiss tournament in Norway in Dec 2008.
  • Joint second in the Gibtelecom Masters tournament 2008 in the United Kingdom.
  • Second spot in prestigious Gausdal classics International tournament 2008GM goup-A.
  • Gopal amazingly became the National Junior Champion at the age of 15. (National Junior championship is a prestigious event for under-20 boys.)
  • The first International Master and the first Grand Master of Kerala.
  • Member of the Indian Men’s Team from Dec 2006, 2007, 2008.
  • The only unbeaten Indian in the Aeroflot Open, Moscow Feb-2007.
  • Joint Champion in the concluded Lake Sevan (Armenia) from 6th –14th July 2007.
  • IM norms from World Junior Championship Turkey 2005, Belaguer (Spain) 2006, Valsad (Gujarat) 2006.
  • Gopal received the prestigious Tigran Gold medal from the Armenian Prime Minister during the Lake Sevan International Grand Masters tournament in Armenia.
  • In the FIDE World Cup in Siberia in November, Gopal had a tremendous tussle with former FIDE World champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov and only lost the blitz Playoff after four games had been drawn.

Gopal's biography in The Hindu

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