Chennai, July 20 (IANS) The recent order by Competition Commission of India has given Indian chess players an additional reason to celebrate the International Chess Day on Friday.
Almost all the players to whom IANS spoke to welcomed the CCI order and are hopeful of things changing for their benefit.
On July 12, the CCI held the undertaking prescribed by 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 the non-compliance of such undertaking will result in banning of players and removal of their Elo rating, create entry barriers, foreclose competition and restrict opportunities available to chess players.
“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 order said.
“There should not be restriction on players from playing any tournament. Only then a chess player in India can eke out his livelihood turning professional and also progress in the sport,” a Grand Master (GM) told IANS preferring anonymity.
“All players should be allowed to play any tournament,” another GM told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
The International Chess Day is celebrated on July 20 every year — the day the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded in 1924.
“Whether other sports bodies allow such a facility should also be seen,” he added.
The CCI also imposed a penalty of Rs.692,350 upon AICF for infringing the provisions of Section 4 of the Act and directed the chess body to deposit the penalty within 60 days and file a compliance report.
The complaint against AICF was filed by four chess players viz Hemant Sharma, Devendra Bajpai, Gurpreet Pal Singh and Karun Duggal alleging contravention of the provision of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
The players had complained to CCI that their Elo rating points were removed by AICF without giving any prior notice due to their participation in the chess tournament sponsored by the Chess Association of India (CAI) in 2010 which was not authorised by AICF.
As per the CCI order, the complainants alleged that AICF also removed ratings of 151 chess players on that ground.
According to CCI order, the investigation has revealed that there were other instances of AICF restricting players who had participated in events not recognised by AICF.
In its order the CCI directed AICF to lay down the process and parameters governing authorisation/sanctioning of chess tournaments. In doing so, AICF will ensure that they are necessary to serve the interest of the sport and shall be applied in a fair, transparent and equitable manner.
Besides, AICF shall take all possible measure(s) to ensure that competition is not impeded while preserving the objective of development of chess in the country.
According to the order, the AICF shall establish the prejudice caused by a chess player before taking any disciplinary action against him. Needless to say, the disciplinary actions taken shall be proportional, fair and transparent.
The disciplinary actions against the four players and other similar players shall be reviewed by AICF on these lines, the CCI ordered.
“The punishment should be commensurate with the crime. In this case the punishment seems to be very severe affecting the professional career of the players,” a chess player told IANS.
Another chess player said: “The AICF instead of fighting against those organising tournaments should involve them in the game’s development.”
The general view of the players is that they are fighting against each other over the board and they should not be forced to fight against the Federation for their rights outside.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])