Banned Indian chess players will have to wait for rating restoration

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Chennai, May 28 (IANS) The Indian chess players banned by All India Chess Federation (AICF) will have to wait for some more time for restoration of their Elo rating as announced by global chess body FIDE.

According to them, FIDE Qualification Commission is working on the issue.

“Nearly a decade ago, FIDE, at the behest of AICF, removed the Elo ratings of dozens of players and expunged their names from the records. Today we are delighted to welcome back all those players with immediate effect,”

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said in a statement.

Queried about the timeline for Elo ratings restoration of the banned Indian players Nigel Short, Vice President, FIDE told IANS: “It might take some time to restore all these ratings, because quite a lot of people were banned and at different times.”

“At the moment, we still don’t know the full list and how many people have been subsequently readmitted. However, the Qualification Commission is already working on it. They do have quite a lot of information, but perhaps not everything. I suspect it might not be until July that it is completely sorted out,” Short said.

“The players – or at least the majority of them – have not been restored yet to the rating list, because we need to cross-reference different lists and other sources,” David Llada, Chief of Public Relations for FIDE told IANS.

According to him, some of the players may have been already readmitted in the list in previous years. “We need to check all this and it will take some time,” Llada added.

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Llada said the announcement by Dvorkovich on Monday was not a sudden decision and there is no particular reason why it was made now.

“The new FIDE management took over approximately seven months ago, and there was a long list of problems to deal with. We had to establish some priorities. Finally the time came to make a decision on this,” Llada said.

The AICF is maintaining silence on the FIDE announcement. It will be interesting to see how the AICF headed by P.R. Venketrama Raja would respond to FIDE’s announcement.

According to the players, there are two options for AICF. The first option is to agree to FIDE’s decision and facilitate restoration of Elo ratings of the banned players.

The other option is to continue to stick to its stand and tell FIDE that the banning of players and expunging of their Elo rating is an internal issue.

The AICF has said that the ban on players will be revoked if they give an apology letter and an undertaking to abide by its rules and bye-laws.

However banned players like Gurpreet Pal Singh and Karun Duggal who have approached the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against AICF have rejected the idea of giving an apology letter.

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Singh told IANS: “We will apply to AICF to restore our Elo rating without giving any apology letter citing FIDE’s announcement and guidelines and CCI order.”

Interestingly the FIDE President’s Monday announcement has further strengthened the players’ case against AICF in the CCI. Recently, the AICF faced a setback at CCI.

According to Singh and Duggal, the CCI in its order dated May 9, 2019 told the AICF that it has not complied entirely with its order dated July 12, 2018 by keeping in abeyance the rule that prohibits players from playing in unauthorised tournaments and not rescinding it totally.

On May 9, 2019, the CCI directed the AICF to file an undertaking that it will rescind its rule that prohibits players from participating in chess tournaments not authorised by the latter.

The AICF had also said that players seeking re-registration should tender a written apology and give an undertaking that they will henceforth abide by the existing bye-laws/rules.

On July 12, 2018, the CCI had held that the undertaking prescribed by the AICF for players regarding non-participation in events not authorised by it amounts to restraints that were 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 also imposed a penalty of Rs 6,92,350 on the AICF for infringing on the provisions of Section 4 of the Act. The CCI said that non-compliance with such an undertaking will result in banning of players and removal of their Elo rating, create entry barriers, foreclose competition and restrict the opportunities available to chess players.

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“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 CCI had also directed the AICF to establish the prejudice caused by a chess player before taking any disciplinary action against him and 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 the AICF on these lines, the CCI had ordered.

The complaint against the AICF was filed by four chess players — Hemant Sharma, Devendra Bajpai, Gurpreet Pal Singh and Karun Duggal — alleging contravention of the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act.

The players were banned by the AICF from playing 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 the AICF in 2016.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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