Chennai: The All India Chess Federation (AICF) has cancelled the Indian team’s Canadian Exposure Tour for lack of player confirmations, it is learnt.
“The cancellation has nothing to do with the government. Seven out of 12 Indian chess players expressed their inability to be part of the tour and hence, the programme was scrapped,” a person in the know of developments told IANS.
“Five male players and two female players had confirmed participation out of the 12,” the person added.
He refuted the view that the Central government declined to fund the tour programme as AICF is flush with funds.
Queried as to why the chance is not given to the next ranked players, the person said the government funds the tour expenses – visa/flight/boarding and lodging- for only the top six players of each category and the rules does not allow onboarding lower ranked players even though it is an exposure tour.
The AICF organises exposure tours for the top chess players falling under different categories – open, women, and age group players.
During the exposure tours, the Indian players participate in a couple of chess tournaments to gain experience as well as FIDE rating points.
However, the AICF officials were not available to answer why the Federation, which is flush with money, could not send the players to Canada on its own.
“The AICF could have used the government funds to take a full contingent at a later date. The Federation could have used its money in taking the players who had given their consent for the Canadian tour and participate in the Canadian Open Chess Championship,” a senior chess player told IANS preferring anonymity.
On May 15, the AICF had sought the confirmations from 12 players about the availability/non-availability for the Canadian Exposure Tour by May 19.
But on June 6, the AICF informed the players that the Canada trip had been cancelled due to unavoidable reasons.
It is learnt there are players who confirmed their participation for the Canadian tour foregoing or changing their earlier plans of playing in other foreign tournaments.
Now that the Canadian tour scheduled for 22-30 July is cancelled, those players are not in a position to play in those tournaments.
Indian players go overseas to play in chess tournaments to gain experience, rating points and win prize money.
“Only with the prize money we meet all our expenses within and outside India. Many players borrow money for their foreign tours and settle their debt with the prize money,” a chess Grandmaster told IANS preferring anonymity.
To the question as to why the chess players beg/borrow to play in the overseas tournament instead of playing in the domestic circuit, several chess masters told IANS that the Indian tournaments has a varied player mix – very lowly-rated to moderately high rated.
And the number of players who play in a tournament is very high owing to allowing donor entries.
“So, the quality of the players is not uniform. The risk – chances of gaining or losing rating points – is not commensurate with the reward – the prize money. A rated player will lose rating players heavily if he loses to a lowly rated player while he will not gain much by winning against a lowly rated player,” chess masters told IANS.
The other issue is that tournament organisers invite foreign Grandmasters enough to satisfy the title norm standards, so Indian players do not get to play against stronger foreign players, they added.
The tournament organisers are interested only in high volume tournaments and not high valued ones.
“Flush with funds, the AICF should organise or encourage others to conduct tournaments that would attract strong foreign players. Most of the Indian players who get their International/Grandmaster titles get their norms playing in foreign tournaments,” an International Master told IANS preferring anonymity.
Further, the AICF tournament calendar should be fixed so that all the players could plan their schedule. Many times, the tournament dates get changed resulting in top players, both domestic and foreign, skipping them, chess players said.