Saturday, March 23, 2013

We Can Co-exist !!

One of the biggest problems faced by Indian sports community are the strained relations between Sports players and Officials.

Be it any sport, for eg, Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes always volleying with the Tennis Association, The hockey team always dribbling with their orgainsers, Abhinav Bindra shooting harsh words for the Shooting Orgainsation... the list is endless.
But I am a chess player, and I am pained to see the same scenario raising its ugly head even in this royal sport.
Whether its our National Hero Anand, the pride of India Humpy,Harikrishna, Sasikiran, Ganguly or the brilliant Young guns Abhijeet Gutpta and Harika! They have all had their share of problems with the Indian chess association better known as All India Chess Federation (AICF).

When the goal of both the players and AICF is the same (to popularise and improve chess in India) why do these problems persist?
Let me give you an example. Have you ever seen a couple: Husband and Wife amicably agreeing on every issue? I think such a kind of couple is like a blooming flower in the desert. It just doesnt exist!
So my question to you is: Why do Husband and Wife always fight and argue when their goal is same. i.e to live a happy and satisfied life together!
My answer to this is: "Difference in Opinion."
But Married couples speak out their differences. They discuss it and sometimes the husband compromises, sometimes the wife. In the end they both see the bigger picture and they move forward confidently towards their aim of happily being together.
From this analogy we can see can that even the Organizers and Players can sort out their differences provided each one respects the other and are ready to discuss the differences and both are ready to compromise on certain issues.

A beautiful example of this was on show at the players meeting of National Team championship 2013 in Hyderabad.
The arbiters and Organizers had made a decision that zero tolerance is compulsory as this was a national championship.
The players were of the opinion that zero tolerance can only be applied when the place of residence and the playing hall are nearby. As the organizers didnt provide the accomodation, they had no right to enforce the zero tolerance rule.
There was quite a Hullabaloo on this topic with players like Harika,Adhiban,Tania etc making a point for the players that it was extremely difficult to travel long distance and not expect any inconvenience on the way.
The players had a point but the organisers didn't.(atleast they couldnt come up with anything better than zero tolerance is necessary for national championship).
But there was something positive here. There was a discussion. The players opinion mattered even though in the very slightest.
Finally a decision was made that grace time of 15 mins will be given on the first two days.

Ok! So there was a compromise! The players of course wanted it for all the days but at least the organizers heard them and gave in to maybe 20% of their demands! Both can be pleased to some extent with the outcome because no one trampled the other.
I totally agree that its the officials right to make rules for the players. But if you just think about it deeply, why are the Officials going through all this pain. Its because they want the game of Chess to flourish in India. And its obvious the players are the ones whom they are catering to. So then why not listen to their wants? Why this autocratic form of ruling when actually what you are trying to do is to make the life of a chess player easy!
At least give it a try. Even in a tournament we have a players committee! So then why not in the outside world? Why doesn't AICF itself form a Chess players body which helps them to make more informed decisions as to what the players wants are.
A parent can sometimes take strict decisions for his/her child but if the child "never" gets what it wants, the final result will be frustration, supression and depression!
I see the players and the Officials as two peas in a pod! Each maybe different but both have to stay together! And while we do that, why dont we make the journey more amicable,more discussion oriented, more democractic and more enjoyable!

Finally as I sign off I would like to say:

Currently, India's top player Surya Shekhar Ganguly is facing a problem of not getting to play in Asian Continental Championship because he didn't participate in National Premier Championships of 2012.
Ganguly is a 6 time National Premier winner. He is the pride of India. There is no doubt that he has a great chance to make India proud by winning a medal in Asian Championships. Whether he will get to play or not, I don't know But we have to recognize the root cause of the problem. AICF wants Ganguly to play in National Premier Championship to make the National Championship a strong event.Great intention! But what is the total prize fund that they are offering? 5,00,000/- (approx 10000$) for the strongest tournament in India?!! Why would such a strong player play for such a paltry sum. To make players like Nakamura and Kamsky play in US National Championship, the organisers offer an astronomical sum of $ 1,60,000 as the total prize fund. If the prize fund is increased to a decent amount, I see no reason why top Indian players would have any problem to play in our National Tournaments!

(These views expressed here are totally of the author and not anyone else).
                                                                                                                   -Sagar Shah.