Chennai, Dec 31 (IANS) In a clear case of violation of Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) order, the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association (TNSCA) is asking players participating in the upcoming 12th Chennai Open International Grandmaster Chess Tournament to sign an undertaking saying they did not participate in any unauthorised tournament listed by the All India Chess Federation (AICF).
As per the prospectus uploaded on the TNSCA website, a player after listing out the required details have to sign a declaration which reads as: “I declare that I have not participated in any unauthorised event listed by the All India Chess Federation.”
“It is nothing but contempt of CCI order. The AICF had told CCI that it has amended its bye-laws in line with its orders. But it is implementing its old rule in an international Grandmaster (GM) tournament. It only shows that AICF has not changed its ways,” Gurpreet Pal Singh, one of the four chess players who has filed a case with CCI, told IANS on Tuesday.
As per the prospectus, the Chennai Open chess meet is being organised by TNSCA under the guidance of AICF. The tournament has the affiliation of AICF.
When queried about the declaration, TNSCA General Secretary and Tournament Director P. Stephen Balasamy told IANS: “By mistake the declaration was printed in the prospectus. I will remove it and print a new prospectus. We have already removed the declaration from the online prospectus.”
Balasamy further said that as of Tuesday, 64 players have confirmed their participation in the tournament, including 28 GMs, one woman GM, 14 International Masters (IM) and one Woman IM.
AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan was not available for comments when IANS contacted him.
Even though AICF claims that it has changed its rules, in October 2019, an 11-year-old schoolboy was barred from playing in a tournament midway by an official of the Tirunelveli District Chess Development Association (TDCDA) for taking part in an independent or non-AICF affiliated tournament earlier.
“I had paid the necessary entry fees and left my son Karthik Rahul at the tournament venue. I came to know that when he was playing in the first round, B. Paulkumar, TDCDA General Secretary, barred him on the grounds that he had played in a tournament that was not recognised by the AICF/Tamil Nadu State Chess Association and the district association,” K. Murugesh Babu had told IANS.
The AICF maintained studied silence on the issue.
On July 12, 2018, CCI held that the undertaking prescribed by the AICF for players regarding non-participation in events not authorised by it amounts to restraints that are in the nature of exclusive distribution and refusal to deal as defined in Section 3(f) and 3(4)(d) of the Competition Act, 2002.
The CCI said that non-compliance of such undertaking will result in banning of players and removal of their Elo ratings, create entry barriers, foreclose competition and restrict opportunities available to chess players.
The CCI also imposed a penalty of Rs 6,92,350 on AICF for infringing the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act and directed the chess body to deposit the penalty within 60 days and file a compliance report.
“The said restrictions are likely to have appreciable adverse effect on competition in terms of factors contained in Section 19 (3) of the Act. The Commission is, thus, of the view that AICF has contravened Sections 3(4)(c) and 3(4)(d) of the Act read with Section 3(1) of the Act,” the CCI order said.
The complaint against AICF was filed by four chess players — Hemant Sharma, Devendra Bajpai, Gurpreet Pal Singh and Karun Duggal — who alleged contravention of the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act.
The players were banned by the AICF from participating in chess tournaments for the past several years and their ElO ratings were also withdrawn. One of the four players who had originally complained to the CCI — Hemant Sharma — was re-registered with AICF in 2016.