National C'ship in crisis as organiser is evicted

Three days after the first round of the National championship was deferred, the players now await a new venue for Sunday’s fourth round after the organiser was asked by the owner of the Lucknow Public School - the venue - to vacate the playing room by Saturday night.

S. Ravi Teja defeated third seed Aravind Chithambaram.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

The 54th edition of the National chess championship continues to be plagued by problems pertaining to the venue.

Three days after the first round was deferred, the players now await a new venue for Sunday’s fourth round after the organiser was asked by the owner of the Lucknow Public School to vacate the playing room by Saturday night.

When the Tournament Director A. K. Raizada apprised the unsuspecting players of the latest crisis in an urgently summoned meeting on Saturday, there was an understandable air of certainty. Mr. Raizada indicated that another hall was available about 17 kilometres from the vicinity of the hotels where the players are staying. This suggestion was shot down by the players.

Raizada, who is also the secretary of the cash-strapped Uttar Pradesh Chess Sports Association, then told the players that he would look for a playing hall closer to where the players were staying and let the players know by 11 am on Sunday. It may be remembered that the each round is slated to begin at 2.30 pm. The uncertainty around the venue had clearly left the players peeved.

Senior-most Grandmaster in the fray, Abhijit Kunte and veteran International Master Neeraj Kumar Mishra, along with top seed Vidit Gujarathi, Tejas Bakre, Sriram Jha and Abhishek Kelkar were open to the idea of the event being replayed at a later date once the organiser was ready to host the event in keeping with its status. However, the others were hesitant to take a stand on the issue.

'Playing conditions compromised'

“Players rights should be protected by the federation. We are not here at the invitation of the organiser. We have all qualified to play in the premier championship. The playing conditions have clearly been compromised so far,” declared Kunte.

Mishra, a veteran of many Nationals, was equally disturbed. “Is it not surprising that in a State Capital, the organiser who is holding the event on behalf of the AICF, couldn’t find a room or a hall suitable to accommodate seven tables for 14 players?”

When contacted in New York, the All India Chess Federation’s CEO Bharat Singh Chauhan said, “This is clearly a very embarrassing situation for the AICF. I have asked Mr. Raizada to book a hall in one of the hotels were the players are staying and continue with the event. The AICF will bear all the expenses and the conditions offered to the players should not be compromised.

“I understand that Raizada and his team are victims of sabotage by a banned chess organisation, whose headquarter is in Lucknow. Such petty politics should not have been played in sabotaging the National championship. The AICF is firmly behind the host. I will be in Lucknow in a few days,” said Chauhan, the Chairman of the FIDE’s Technical Commission, is attending the ongoing World Championship title-match between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin.

Ravi Teja beats Chithambaram

Much before the players were left bewildered by the unsavoury developments, S. Ravi Teja stunned third seed and overnight leader Aravindh Chithambaram in an error-filled match in 40 moves. Defending champion M. Karthikeyan moved to the top of the table after beating R. R. Laxman for a tally of 2.5 points.

However, the most disappointing action came from the clash involving top seed Vidit Gujarathi and second seed B. Adhiban. They dished out a 25-move draw following a series of exchanges. When the peace treaty was signed, the players were left with a rook, a bishop, a knight and three kingside-pawns each.

The results:

Third round: Aravindh Chithambaram (2) lost to S. Ravi Teja (2); S. Nitin (2) bt Surya Praneeth (1); D. B. Chandra Prasad (2) drew with Abhishek Kelkar (1.5); Tejas Bakre (1) drew with Neeraj Kumar Mishra (0.5); R. R. Laxman (1.5) lost to M. Karthikeyan (2.5); Vidit Gujarathi (1.5) drew with B. Adhiban (2); Abhijit Kunte (1) drew with Sriram Jha (0.5).

Fourth-round pairings: Praneeth-Teja; Jha-Chithambaram; Karthikeyan-Kunte; Adhiban-Laxman; Mishra-Vidit; Kelkar-Bakre; Nitin-Prasad.