The controversy over the selection of Indian chess team to play in the upcoming FIDE Online Chess Olympiad has resulted in the resignation of chief of the Selection Committee of All India Chess Federation (AICF) Grandmaster R.B. Ramesh.
While confirming his resignation to IANS from the selection committee, he declined to comment further on the issue.
In a statement AICF Secretary Vijay Deshpande (President P.R.Venketrama Raja faction) said Ramesh had resigned over interference by Bharat Singh Chauhan in the team selection process for the first Online Chess Olympiad.
The AICF is divided into two factions -- one led by Raja and the other by secretary Chauhan.
The leaders of the two factions with their respective supporters had removed each other from their posts.
However, the central government recognises Raja and Chauhan as AICF's President and Secretary.
In the statement Deshpande said Ramesh was entrusted with the task of selecting the Indian team for the online Olympiad slated to be held from July 22 to August 30.
The statement said, acting on the suggestion of the selection committee, Raja had forwarded the list of players to represent the country to FIDE, the global chess body.
According to the statement, Chauhan insisted on including the name of a Delhi player (Tania Sachdev) and when pointed out by Ramesh that she did not qualify on technical grounds, the former had forwarded the confidential mails directly to the player concerned.
"Protesting against this, the ex-British Chess Champion (Ramesh) tendered his resignation immediately," Deshpande said.
According to the statement, Ramesh's resignation has not been accepted.
When contacted for his reaction Chauhan told IANS: "The list of players suggested by us were approved by Ramesh. The players were informed about their selection and their consent to participate in the tournament were obtained.
"When a selected player is dropped then equity demands that the player be informed and which is what I did," Chauhan said.
Sachdev had to be dropped as she had not played a minimum of nine games over the relevant period but had played seven games.
Earlier the two factions had chosen two different sets of team members for the online Olympiad.
While the two lists had common names when it came to senior players, in the case of junior players, the lists had different names, raising the hopes and ambitions of eight players.
The players selected by the Chauhan faction are: (For Open Board) GM V. Anand (Elo rating 2,753) and GM Vidit Gujrathi (2,726); (U-20 Open Board) GM Nihal Sarin (2,620); (Women's Boards) GM Koneru Humpy (2,586), GM Harika Dronavalli (2,515); (U-20 Girl) WGM R. Vaishali (2,393).
The reserve players are: GMs P. Harikrishna (2,719), B. Adhiban (2,659), R. Praggnanandhaa (2,508), IMs Bhakti Kulkarni (2,391), Tania Sachdev (2,392) and WIM Divya Deshmukh (2,305).
On the other hand, the U-20 players selected by the Raja faction are: Aradhya Garg (2,198), Mitrabha Guha (2,445), Srishti Pandey (2,026) and Arpita Mukherjee (2,206) and this was seen as a deviation from the set rules.
When asked about the list submitted by Raja faction, Deshpande said "This is not the final list. The selection committee will go through the list and can also suggest other names."
Deshpande in his statement said the final list of players approved by Ramesh who would represent India are:
1. Viswanathan Anand
2. Vidit Santosh Gujarati
3. P. Harikrishna - Reserve
4. Aravindh Chidambaram – Reserve
1. Koneru Humpy
2. Dronavali Harika
3. Bhakti Kulkarni - Reserve
4. R. Vaishali – Reserve
1. Nihal Sarin
2. R. Pragnanandhaa – Reserve
1. Divya Deshmukh
2. Vantika Agarwal – Reserve