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With strengthened case, 3 banned chess players to haul AICF to Competition Commission of India

Three FIDE rated senior players, who were “illegally barred” from playing in the Tirunelveli District Selection tournament recently have decided to haul the All India Chess Federation (AICF) to the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

“We had made a complaint to CCI. The CCI in turn asked us to make the complaint in a specified format. We are now preparing our complaint in the format as required by CCI,” Merryston David Scanny told IANS.

Interestingly, their case got beefed up with the response of the official who had barred the three from playing the tournament even after paying the necessary fee.

The three players – M Karunakaran (68 years), V Palanikumar (58) and Scanny (48 years) – were not allowed to play in the Tirunelveli District Selection tournament at the last minute on April 9.

According to B Paulkumar, Secretary, Tirunelveli District Chess Development Association (TDCDA), the three had played in private tournaments held in Tenkasi district.
The three players lodged a police complaint against Paulkumar for his “illegal act” and also with the AICF and CCI.

On its part, the AICF forwarded the complaint to Tamil Nadu State Chess Association (TNSCA) which in turn had forwarded to Paulkumar, TDCDA asking for his comments.

Only after a reminder by TNSCA, Paulkumar in his response told the former: “I have understood that the three mentioned players have been participating in the Tenkasi district tournaments, even after it was bifurcated as a separate district. I explained the police officials the same and informed them that they were not allowed to play in this tournament for two reasons – i) as they are not registered players of the Tirunelveli District Chess Development Association and ii) they have been playing regularly in the Tenkasi district tournaments, even after knowing/understanding that it is a separate district.”

Scanny, Karunakaran and Palanikumar had told IANS that they had played private tournaments held in Tenkasi and not in any District Selection tournaments.

When IANS had contacted TDCDA Secretary Paulkumar earlier he said: “The three players have been playing in tournaments held in Tenkasi. So how can they be considered as Tirunelveli District players?”

Asked if they had played in any Tenkasi District selection tournament or if there is any rule whereby chess players are not allowed to play in private tournaments, Paulkumar had disconnected the call.

Interestingly, Paulkumar’s response has strengthened the three players’ case against AICF as a couple of years back the CCI had held that restricting and banning chess players from playing in private tournaments is unfair trade practice and illegal.

The CCI had also ordered AICF to pay a penalty.

The Indian chess body later amended its regulations to be in line with CCI’s order. However, it has gone on appeal against the CCI’s order.

Chess players had told IANS that AICF has not publicised the CCI’s orders and as a result players at the district levels are subjected to such atrocities by the district chess officials.

Be that as it may, this is not the first time that Paulkumar had barred chess players.

In 2019, Paulkumar had barred then 11-year-old Karthik Rahul from playing in a tournament midway on the grounds that he had played in a private tournament.

The act was in clear violation of the CCI orders and AICF rules.

The TNSCA Secretary Stephen Balasamy P had then told IANS: “There is no differentiation between recognised and unrecognised tournaments. Players are free to take part in any chess tournament.”

However, the TNSCA did not take any action against him.

Balasamy was not available for comments when IANS had contacted for his comments on Paulkumar’s reply to the complaint made by the three senior players.

Similarly, AICF’s Interim Secretary Vipnesh Bhardwaj too was not available for comments when contacted by IANS.

The AICF has cancelled recognitions to several state chess associations and has allowed ad hoc organisations to manage affairs and the same should be done with regard to TNSCA for turning a blind eye on the anti-player actions of the district associations, was also one of the views expressed by players.

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