Indian chess professionals speak out

5/4/2005 – As previously reported the Indian Chess Federation has a new leadership. After the original officers were restrained by an Indian court, however, they refused to close shop, and the chess superpower seemed to be ruled by two federations. Now the Chess Players' Association of India takes a stand.

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This has reference to the current controversy in the All India Chess Federation. We, as part of the Chess Players Association of India (CPAI) would like to clear certain doubts pertaining to the current status of the AICF, the gross misinformation and disinformation spread by the supporters of the court-restrained former honorary secretary of AICF P. T. Ummer Koya.

In fact, these supporters have created enough confusion in the minds of the concerned authority in the country that there are two AICFs. Unfortunately, these people have managed to confuse even those behind the ChessBase news service, which is held in very high esteem by the global chess fraternity, in believing that they are indeed the "original AICF."

The truth of the matter is there is only one AICF: it is the body headed by Mr. N. Srinivasan with Mr. D. V. Sundar as the honorary secretary and IM N.K.Mishra as Hon. Treasurer.

The AICF has rightly been recognised by FIDE. This can be checked on the FIDE web page that lists the addresses and office bearers of all National Federations.

For those who thought Indian chess was roses all the way, here are some thorny facts:

Mr. Koya ran the AICF in a high-handed manner and did not care for the legitimate concerns of the players. His word was law and the players as well as several associations suffered in silence because of the strong support he had from his sycophants. They were the ones who called the shots at the behest of Koya in the Annual General Body Meeting or the Central Council Meetings of the AICF. A fair idea can be had about Koya and his unwise ways from the article "The King has fallen" published in the Indian express.

In fact, the CPAI has meticulously and painstakingly brought out the misdeeds of Mr. Koya in his capacity as the AICF secretary in the document titled "AICF Finances Demystified".

A few days later, on February 1, the Madras High Court restrained Mr. Koya and treasurer Soumen Majumdar from carrying out their duties as AICF office-bearers. Mr. Koya was further restrained from interfering in the affairs of the AICF in any capacity, including as the vice-president of FIDE.

Need we say more?

It was not that the players had not shown their disapproval for the way the Indian chess was being run. The players’ movement took shape after the AICF decided to deduct 10% of the players’ share of prize-money to ease its financial burden. This decision was taken on June 1, 2004 with immediate effect.

The players displayed their displeasure over the AICF decision by wearing black badges during the Pune International GM tournament. Following sustained pressure, the AICF met in November and decided to withdraw the 10% cut from January 1 and also made it clear that the already deducted amount (from June 1, 2005) would not be returned to the players.

This unfair stand of the AICF left the players with no choice but to formally announce the launch of Chess Players Association of India in December in Kolkata. GM Dibyendu Barua was made the President, GM P. Hari Krishna, the secretary and IM Atanu Lahiri as Treasurer. Nine GMs, including Viswanathan Anand, and nearly 40 International Masters and Woman Grandmasters, backed the CPAI initiative.


Top Indian players and CPAI members: GM Viswanathan Anand, GM Dibyendu Barua (President of the CPAI), GM Pentala Harikrishna


GM Surya Sekar Ganguly, GM Koneru Humpy, GM Sundipan Chanda


GM Abhijit Kunte, GM R. B. Ramesh, GM Tejas Bakre

The CPAI also took up the matter of WGM Nisha Mohota’s startling exclusion from the Indian squad for the Asian Women’s championship held in Lebanon.

It did not come as a surprise when the AICF showed its true colors and issued show cause notices to Barua and Nisha for addressing a media conference where they brought out the ugly side of AICF.

A delegation of the players met Mr. Koya during the Parsvnath International Open in New Delhi in January but the AICF secretary failed to see and consider the views of the players.

Within three weeks, the associations of Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Maharashtra moved the Madras High Court that promptly restrained Koya and Majumdar. As a result, President N. Srinivasan had to exercise his powers vested in him by the AICF Constitution to nominate new secretary and treasurer to ensure smooth functioning of the federation’s day-to-day affair.

Mr. Srinivasan also called a General Body Meeting in Chennai to inform the representatives of all the state associations about the new appointments. The House ratified the appointment of Mr. D. V. Sundar and Mr. Neeraj Kumar Mishra, as secretary and treasurer, respectively, till the elections of the AICF due in September, 2005.

But the matter was far from over.

Within an hour of the conclusion of the GBM, in a clandestine and a pre-meditated move, some supporters of Koya met at the Airlines Hotel "expelled" Mr. Srinivasan as President and "elected" three new "office-bearers": Mr. S. L. Harsh (President), Mr. Bhaskaran (Secretary) and Mr. V. R. Bobba (treasurer).

Now who gave these supporters the right to claim that they were "AICF"? Even the constitution of AICF does not allow an "urgent" meeting to be called without circulating the agenda well in advance. It was indeed laughable that these supporters held "elections" during this hurried called "AGM."

Thereafter, the supporters of Koya set out on propaganda warfare against the AICF by addressing a media conference and spreading confusion far and wide. Mr. V. K. Rathi (one of the vice-president belonging to the Koya group) used the previous AICF website to issue letters to the players. A fitting reply was filed by the CPAI and so far, we have not heard from Mr. Rathi.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court restrained these new "office bearers of the AICF", apart from Mr. Koya, from interfering with the day-to-day activities of the AICF (headed by Mr. Srinivasan and Mr. Sundar as secretary).

Since then, Koya and his supporters have moved a two-judge Division Bench questioning the jurisdiction of the single-judge court to issue interim injunction orders. The Division Bench admitted Koya and Bobba’s review petition on the issue of jurisdiction and after hearing both sides, reserved May 5 to issue its order.

It is truly significant to note that even after two months of being restrained by the Madras High Court, Koya has not challenged a single charge of corruption and malpractice. He is only buying time by questioning the ‘jurisdiction’ of the Madras High Court to deal with the AICF.

We request that ChessBase provide the true picture of AICF to the world and not fall prey to the desperately mischievous ways of the former secretary and his blind supporters.

Chess Players Association of India

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