Aug 11, 2018
Chennai, July 26 (IANS), By Venkatachari Jagannathan Armed with a favourable order from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), two chess players -- Karun Duggal and Gurpreet Pal Singh -- are gearing up to file a case against the All India Chess Federation (AICF) for compensation.

“We will be filing a case claiming Rs 50 lakh as compensation for the sufferings, loss of reputation, loss of opportunities,” Duggal told IANS.

The complaint against the AICF was that it had not allowed players to participate in events not authorised by the federation. The players had also complained to the CCI that their Elo rating points were removed by AICF without giving any prior notice for participating in a chess tournament sponsored by the Chess Association of India (CAI) in 2010. The tournament was not authorised by AICF.

For chess players, gaining Elo points is a tough task as they have to play in several rated chess tournaments to improve their points.

The CCI held in its July 12 ruling that the undertaking prescribed by AICF for players regarding non-participation in events not authorised by it amounted to “restraints” and violative of the Copetition Act of 2002.

AICF is said to be mulling an appeal against the CCI order.

Singh told IANS that like a King caught in the centre of the chessboard -- the CCI order had caught the AICF in the open. “Having one’s rook on the seventh rank gives a player a positional advantage on the chess board. The CCI order has given us that advantage to press further.”

He said there was nothing more left for them to lose. “But we would like to see that other players do not suffer in the future,” he added.

Gurpreet, who as the National Junior Champion in 1994, was 37 with an Elo rating of 2,306 points at the time when his rating was revoked.

The 44-year-old Singh, who was employed by the Railways, said that “not being able to play even in the department tournaments was really hurting.” Duggal, a school teacher and twice Delhi State Rapid Chess champion, had an Elo rating of 1,979 points when they were revoked.

The complaint against AICF was filed by four chess players -- Singh, Duggal, Hemant Sharma and Devendra Bajpai -- alleging contravention of provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act.

The complainants also alleged that AICF had removed the ratings of 151 chess players on that ground.

“The AICF had banned about 2,500 chess players. Ratings of 151 players were revoked. Majority of the 2,500 players who were banned have quit chess,” Duggal said.

In its order, the CCI directed AICF to lay down the process and parameters governing authorisation/sanctioning of chess tournaments. In doing so, AICF would have to ensure that the parameters were necessary to serve the interest of the sport and these shall be applied in a “fair, transparent and equitable manner”.

AICF was also asked to take all possible measure(s) to ensure that competition was not impeded while preserving the objective of development of chess in the country.

According to the order, the AICF needs to establish the prejudice caused by a chess player, before taking any disciplinary action against the player.

The CCI order also asked AICF to review the disciplinary action taken against the four players who had complained.

Singh said perhaps this is the first time players had won a legal battle against AICF.

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