World Junior Chess: Iran's protest upheld, top seed Tabatabaei survives

The Appeals Committee upheld the appeal from the Iranian delegation and the pairings were redrawn after including Amin Tabatabaei’s name.

Iran's top seed Amin Tabatabaei (in picture) can continue to make the moves after Iran's protest against the removal of his name was upheld ahead of the seventh round of the World Junior Chess Championship in New Delhi.   -  CHESSBASE INDIA

Iranian top seed Amin Tabatabaei escaped being barred from taking further part in the World Junior Chess Championship here.

Hours after he failed to turn up for this sixth round contest against Israeli Or Bronstien on Saturday, he was removed from the pairing list for the seventh round, scheduled on Monday after a day’s rest.

But a timely protest from the Iranian delegation here led to a late night meeting of the Appeals Committee. Eventually, the committee upheld the appeal and the pairings were redrawn after including Tabatabaei’s name.

Earlier, Malaysian chief arbiter Hamid Majid, after being directed by authorities in FIDE to use his discretion in the matter, deliberated with the team of arbiters here and removed Tabatabaei’s name since “the player had not followed the protocol.”

Speaking to Sportstar, Majid said, “We all know that this is the second instance (in the Championship) of an Iranian not turning up for his game against an Israeli. (The first one being Aryan Gholami who cited medical reasons for his absence for the fourth-round game against Alexander Zlatin. He later withdrew from the Championship and left for home). Tabatabaei did not inform the organiser of the reason of his absence. It was only after he was confronted, he produced a medical certificate.

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“Can the Iranian contingent guarantee that a similar walkover is not handed over to an Israeli player in the remainder of his championship?” was the question Majid asked the head of Iran’s delegation Shadi Paridar.

Eventually, the Appeals Committee headed by Woman Grandmaster Tania Sachdev decided, at 12.40 am, to clear Tabatabaei for further participation on the condition that he would inform the organiser in case he needed any further medical help. More importantly, he would not refuse to play if paired with another Israeli.

In chess, there have been several instances of the Iranians refusing to play Israelis.

For Iran’s Mobina Alinasab, leader in the girls’ section with 5.5 points from six rounds, the chance of meeting an Israeli in the remaining five rounds appears blissfully slim. Currently, Israel’s Michelle Katkov and Ronit Levitan are placed a distant 42nd and 77th.

But the biggest worry for Alinasab will be strong Indian medal aspirants led by R. Vaishali. With Rakshitta Ravi, Divya Deshmukh, Arpita Mukherjee along with the duo of Mrudul Dehankar and Vantika Agarwal looking keen to break into the medal-bracket, the home prospects appear exciting this week.

In the open section, too, the trio of M. Karthikeyan, Aravindh Chithambaram and ‘dark-horse’ R. Praggnanandhaa are keeping the home challenge alive in the face of some fine performances from the current leaders Ukraine’s Evgeny Shtembuliak and Armenia’s Aram Hakobyan.