Elite tournaments need of the hour in India, says GM Nigel Short

Grandmaster Nigel Short welcomed the AICF’s announcement of a new chess league, saying India needs to organise elite tournaments for the betterment of the sport.

According to FIDE vice-president Nigel Short, India needs to organise elite tournaments, one which it did not focus on earlier.   -  M. Vedhan

Grandmaster Nigel Short, who is the current vice-president of world chess body (FIDE), has been quite vocal about issues facing Indian chess.

In fact, in 2019 he spoke strongly against the All India Chess Federation (AICF) being anti-player and authoritarian.

In an exclusive chat with Sportstar on Tuesday on Skype, the 55-year-old Brit welcomed the new AICF body. Short was happy that the impasse in Indian chess administration was finally over. “I am glad that AICF had the elections. It has been finally resolved through the ballot box and not through the courts. This is the beginning of a new dawn,” he said.

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Short welcomed the AICF’s announcement of a new chess league. “I know that there was an idea a few years ago of starting an Indian Premier League for chess. That was torpedoed politically. That was a great shame for that was a lost opportunity. It is better late than ever,” he said.

According to Short, India needs to organise elite tournaments, one which it did not focus on earlier. “There is an issue at the top-end. Not enough of really elite prestigious events. That is something that needs to be addressed,” he said.

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Short said AICF can easily run elite tournaments every year with good television coverage and equally good commentators. “Chess has reached the mainstream in other countries like Norway where they have chess on TV. It attracts a very large audience. It is not something that is impossible,” he said.

FIDE, Short said, hasn’t yet found the right commercial model to attract sponsors, and that is one aspect that the world body is still not able to find all the answers. "The model which FIDE was run was the inverse of what a successful international sporting federation is like. We have historically not done that. We have only partially succeeded in making the sport attractive to the sponsor,” he admitted.

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