Surprising! Women chess teams from TN and others missing from National Team Chess

With the 44th Chess Olympiad scheduled to be held in Mahabalipuram near here and Tamil Nadu being a strong chess-playing state, chess players in the state are a surprised lot.

For, they are not finding the Tamil Nadu Women’s team participating in the MPL 19th National Team Chess Championship for Women-2022, currently underway at Maharashtra’s Jalgaon.

“This is really news to me. I am surprised to know that the women’s team is not playing in the national team championship,” a senior office bearer of the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association (TNSCA) told IANS preferring anonymity.

“The state is home to seven Women Grandmasters and 13 Women International Masters. Even in the non-titled category, the state has good players with decent ELO ratings,” another chess official told IANS.

Both of them said it is strange why the TNSCA did not send a team for the National Team Championship.

“Representing the state in the national championship qualifies a player for employment in the government sector,” an official added.

He said if the top players who had qualified in the state championship have declined, then the next in the order could have been sent.

The team championship cannot be termed as a weak one as several International Masters (IM R.Vaishali, also a WGM, Soumya Swaminathan, Karavade Eesha and Mohota Nisha), WGMs (Divya Deshmukh, Gomes Mary Ann), WIMs (Arpita Mukherjee, Priyanka Nutakki, K.Priyanka) are seen in action.

A game against them for the budding Tamil Nadu players would have been of immense value, chess players said.

Incidentally two players — Vaishali and K. Priyanka — from Tamil Nadu are playing in the National Team Championship for their employers, Airports Authority of India.

Curiously, the Tamil Nadu men’s team is competing in the tournament.

Responding to the queries on the absence of women’s team, R.Srivatsan, Treasurer, TNSCA told IANS: “We tried reaching out to several players but they declined to participate citing school/college exams. It is very difficult to find players for team events.”

Finding players even for the men’s team is difficult these days. The students and their parents are not realising the importance of the certificate representing the state in national level tournaments, he said.

Such certificates will enable a school student to get admission in a course of his choice in a good college and for degree holders, a government job, Srivatsan added.

Chess players also told IANS that only 11 teams are playing in the National Team Championship out of which two belong to public sector units, two teams from Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. The other states that have sent their team are: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Odisha.

TNSCA Secretary P. Stephen Balasamy was not available for comments when IANS contacted him.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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