AICF plans cash-rich league, mega global events annually

AICF president Sanjay Kapoor revealed a state-of-art National Chess Centre is planned for the benefits of players representing India at various levels.

(From left): The newly-elected office-bearers of the All India Chess Federation (AICF), Messrs Naresh Sharma (treasurer), Sanjay Kapoor (president) and Bharat Singh Chauhan (secretary) in New Delhi.   -  RAKESH RAO

With the 11-month impasse in the governance of Indian chess ending following the election of office-bearers of All India Chess Federation, a change for the better is expected.

The new AICF president Sanjay Kapoor and a third-time secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan are staring at the mess in chess administration and other logistical challenges.

The youngest AICF president at 45, Kapoor heads the Uttar Pradesh Chess Sports Association and is Chairman, Kanpur Cricket Association. Retained secretary, Chauhan enjoys a player-friendly image and sticks to ear-to-the-ground approach.

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“Having witnessed how the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) functions, I would like to bring in some of those benefits to chess administration. My first priority is to ensure that each affiliate get its share from the revenue generated by the AICF,” said Kapoor while speaking to Sportstar.

“Each affiliate will be supported in acquiring a modern administrative set-up. Given the frugal ways adopted by chess administrators in the past, I think, the revenue-model in Indian chess needs a change through strategic partnerships.

“We plan to hold our first Annual General Body Meeting soon and one of the matters in the agenda will be to provide air-tickets, quality accommodation, cab-fare etc. to all the representatives of our affiliates for AICF meetings. As far as possible, all the members will stay under one roof.”

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A state-of-the-art National Chess Centre is planned for the benefits of players representing India at various levels. “It is important to not only broaden our player-base through our proactive 'Chess in School' programme but also provide a worthy training-structure for the more illustrious players,” he said.

Currently, for a non-profit organisation, AICF has over Rs. 10 crore in bank. The chief source of revenue is AICF’s share of players’ entry-fee in various events, non-refundable deposits from host associations and government grants. The deposits have steadily risen since only a small percentage is spent on players.

Set to initiate the process of activating the ‘frozen’ AICF bank account in Chennai and also regain Sports Ministry’s annual affiliation for the AICF, Chauhan said, “This year, we plan the cash-rich Indian Chess League. God willing, we will soon announce the name of the person entrusted the responsibility of making the league a reality.”

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Chauhan continued, “We will explore the possibility of holding AICF’s ambitious big-ticket annual event, which was under discussion before the impasse set in. The idea is to hold at least one mega event annually by bringing in the cream of world chess.”

Speaking about the 'Chess in School' programme, Chauhan said, “We got the AGM clearance in October 2019 for assisting the affiliates with support worth Rs. 10 lakh for the purpose. Neither any transfer of funds nor any compromise on transparency. The AICF will take care of the teachers’/trainers’ remuneration and provide the necessary material - software and hardware - besides chess sets and clocks.”

Chauhan also spoke about free coaching camps, conducted each month by Grandmasters, an annual North-East Open, with a substantial prize-money and hinted at revising the prize-money of select domestic events.

Asked about the status of court cases involving the AICF, Chauhan said, “Now that the new office-bearers are in place, as a priority, I urge P. R Venketrama Raja (the outgoing president of AICF) to withdraw all cases to play an important and constructive role in rebuilding the future of Indian chess.”

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