True to his reputation, British Grandmaster and FIDE vice-president Nigel Short minced no words in blasting All India Chess Federation (AICF) for its “foot-dragging” ways and “vindictiveness” towards aggrieved players.
In an exclusive interaction with Sportstar here, Short referred to FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich’s declaration on July 5 this year to restore the rating of over 100 Indian players, and said, “Though months have passed, the matter is still not sorted out because there has been foot-dragging and obstacles thrown in the way. For me, it’s ridiculous when the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ruled that the AICF had breached regulations, abused its powers in a dominant position and all of that. Then AICF tells the players, ‘Okay, you can rejoin the AICF but you should apologise.’ But AICF should be apologising to the players. This slow-minded, petty, vindictiveness is totally unbecoming for a major federation.”
Touching upon FIDE’s stand on non-interference, Short clarified, “FIDE statutes from our policy of strict neutrality, doesn’t imply inertia or lack of concern. Ultimately, we have to take sides in certain things because FIDE recognises the federations, because they meet various criteria. If not, it is an observation of failings. FIDE takes note.”
Reflecting on India’s presence in FIDE where D. V. Sundar (vice-president) is part of the decision-making Presidential Board, Short candidly stated, “You have an honorary, non-voting member on the Board. If India would have backed the right candidature in the previous elections, then you would have had a voting member on the Board. So, if you back people who have done so little to advance the game, over a period of a quarter of a century, at some point you are going to find yourself at the wrong side of history.”
Asked how FIDE viewed India, the 54-year-old responded, “India is hugely important for FIDE, It is an enormously strong country and becoming stronger. It's already a power house. I think India doesn’t really pull its weight in terms of hosting prestigious tournaments. It is not to say it never had any. It has, but for a country of this size and importance, it has not quite contributed the way it should.
“There are many things that are very good within Indian chess. I could easily see, India being the No. 1 power in chess by 2030, but with the right policies in place.”
Short, in particular, recalled how one major project in India never took off. “Like the National League, with big, big, big money which would be fantastic for Indian chess, but was torpedoed by some individuals or an individual, insistent upon controlling absolutely all aspects of chess in the country. “Say, two players are playing chess in a park for a couple of rupees, are you going to impose sanctions because the AICF has not approved of them? I think, it’s nonsensical.”
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