Chandigarh, Tuesday, October 6, 1998
Indian chess in troubled waters
By Ramu Sharma
NEWSPAPERS recently carried the report of the Mumbai High Court dismissing a plea by five-time national womens chess champion, Anupama Gokhale, to stop the Indian team from going to Elista (Russia) for the Chess Olympiad.
billiards in Haryana
Indian chess in troubled waters
NEWSPAPERS recently carried the report of the Mumbai High Court dismissing a plea by five-time national womens chess champion, Anupama Gokhale, to stop the Indian team from going to Elista (Russia) for the Chess Olympiad. The Court verdict wrote finis to a rather unpleasant chapter in the history of the game in India. But the very fact that such a plea was entered in the court in indicative of the rumblings in the chess fraternity. And it is not restricted to the players alone.
Anupama Gokhale had taken the extreme step of approaching the law after here husband, R.V. Gokhale, a recipient of the Dronacharya and Arjuna Awards, had been stopped from entering a tournament hall in Sangli. Upset over the treatment metted out to her husband, Anupama had performed well below form and finished seventh.
The case and its aftermath is symptomatic of the larger issues which appear to be brewing in the All-India Chess Federation and some of its affiliated units. Chess being a game of personalities, some very high profile people are naturally involved. The most important figure crusading for a better and more transparent deal for the player is Indias first grandmaster, Arjuna awardee Manual Aaron.
A former Secretary of the AICF and now Secretary General, Tamil Nadu Chess Association, Aaron has questioned some acts of commission and omission by Ummer Koya, Secretary, AICF. Aaron is the senior citizen as it were, in the chess fraternity and was one of the principle actors in projecting and promoting Ummer Koya as a messiah for the game. The friendship has obviously gone sour now.
And Ummer Koya has done well, contributing to the spread and promotion of the game in India. In fact ever since he has taken over as Secretary, AICF, chess in India has made rapid strides, both in the number of tournaments and in the number of promising players who have made an impact. Koya has ensured that no championship is allowed to suffer, stepping in with the help of sponsors at his home town in Calicut. Unlike in the earlier days no championship has had to be cancelled because of want of money or sponsor.
His own status too has shown upward swing along with that of Indian chess. In addition to the executive post in the AICF, he is the President of Asian Zone (3.1), Secretary-Treasurer of the Commonwealth Chess Association and more importantly, Vice-President of FIDE. He is indeed a very powerful man. But he has also made himself very vulnerable. His arbitrary manner of functioning has left him open to attacks from all quarters. And there does appear to be much substance in the charges against him.
Koya appears to have annoyed far too many people. Take for instance the issue of the Rs 200 charged as annual registration fee from the players and that too without reportedly issuing receipts. More than the money it is the tone and tenor of the form which the players have to sign. One of the questions asked is "whether the applicant has any criminal record?" The players understandably are chagrined. Some of them are young boys of ten and twelve. Surely an avoidable question?
What has made this registration issue even more irksome is a recent circular which proclaims: "This is for the information of all concerned that the AICF is not responsible to pay the rating fee of any unregistered player to FIDE. Such names will be deleted from FIDE rating list." The contents are understood to be considered as bordering on impertinence by Aaron and others. And there appears to be some objection from Vishwananthan Anand too. He is not a registered player with the AICF. And his objection is not the money, but things to which one has to sign in the application form.
Manuel Aaron has, in a strongly worded letter, detailed the charges against the Secretary and asked for explanations on certain key issues. One of them pertains to the registration fee and associated matters. In this connection Aaron has termed the contents of the circular on rating fee as "an act of intimidating and harassing the players."
Another query directed at Koya relates to" the collection of an extra Rs 5,000 from the chess academies who have already paid Rs 10,000, based on a resolution supposedly passed at a meeting on June 5, 1998." Aaron has termed this move as illegal and reminded Koya about his response when queried by him (Aaron) at the July 25 meeting in Delhi. Koya is quoted as shouting: "I can do anything. These rules are only guidelines!"
There are many other issues, mostly dealing with handling of money, on which Aaron has demanded an answer from Koya. One of the more contentious issue raised by Aaron has to do with the cash award of Rs 40,000 for Pravin Mahadeo Thipsay. "You recommended to the Government and got for Pravin Mahadeo Thipsay, a cash award of Rs 40,000 from the Ministry of Sports for his achievement in "winning the silver medal" in the 1996 Commonwealth Chess Championship held at Calcutta.
"The only problem is that the gentleman was not second. He tied for the second place with C.S. Gokhale, Sriram Jha (both India) and Colin McNab of Scotland. Ties were not resolved in Calcutta. All four were equal second. If you use the progressive score or the average of opponents FIDE ratings to resolve the tie, still Mr Thipsay is not second. In such a situation how come you recommended Mr Thipsay to the Government? Dont tell me again, that like God, you can do anything!"
Continuing in the same vein, Aaron asks Koya "I have a copy of the booklet "Special awards to winners in international sports events and their coaches" brought out by the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports. As AICF Secretary you must be having this. It is clear from that book that there are three awards for the gold, silver and bronzed medals in the Commonwealth Championship: Rs 50,000. Rs 40,000 and Rs 30,000. Can you explain why nobody was recommended for the Rs 30,000 award? You will have to explain these strange acts of yours to the AICF as well as the Government."
Clearly the opinion
against Koya is gathering momentus. And not everyone is
worried about the money part alone. There are other
indiscretions of Koya which have upset some of the
players. No one really minds if he just plays favourites.
It is his suspected methods of preventing some players
from participating in competitions abroad. The charge
against him is that he withholds invitations to some of
the players from organisers abroad. According to reports
one of the players came to know of the invitations only
after the organisers abroad sent her a copy of the
invitation. Koya has a lot of explaining to do if such
charges are substantiated in the next general body
Waiting for recognition
By Vaneet Chawla
VINEET JAIN, a lanky speedster from Chandigarh, has carved a niche for himself in the annals of Indian cricket as he was declared one of the 25 best bowlers of India for his performance during 1997-98.
Born on May 16, 1972, Jain played the first big match of his career when he represented Chandigarh in the Vinoo Manked Trophy held in Chandigarh in 1987. Though his team lost in the semi-finals he claimed four wickets in that match. At that time he was a student of class X in Shivalik Public School. Seeing the talent in him Surinder Singh, who runs a coaching centre in Sector 19, Chandigarh, advised him to join DAV School which is also the Mecca of Cricket in Chandigarh. At the age of 16, he played in the C.K. Naidu Trophy at Lucknow. Though his team again lost in the semi-final against Tamil Nadu, he claimed five wickets in that match.
To pursue his cricketing career he took admission in S.D. College in 1990 and in the same year he was selected to represent Panjab University in the All-India Inter-University Cricket Tournament at Varanasi. He played the only match, his team played against Osmania University in which he was successful in claiming three wickets. He again represented Panjab University in the Inter-University Cricket Tournament in 1991 and in 1992 he played the Vizzy Trophy at Chennai. The team lost its first match but he claimed two wickets for his team.
In 1993 Vineet was selected to represent Haryana in the Ranji Trophy. In the first match against Delhi he got five wickets and in the second match against Services he got seven wickets. That year he played six matches and got 16 wickets. He was among the top 10 bowlers of North Zone that year.
In 1994, he played four matches and in the knockout tie against Tamil Nadu he had an impressive spell as he claimed six wickets. In 1995 he played six matches and in the first match against Delhi team he got eight wickets, three in the first inning and five in the second. During that season he had 18 wickets from six matches. In 1996 too he claimed 14 wickets, which included five wickets against Punjab at Amritsar.
The year 1997 proved to be a golden year for Vineet Jain as he got 29 wickets in the 10 matches he played. The Cricket World ranked him the 16th best bowler out of the list of 25. In the first match of the 1997-98 season against Delhi he had a rich haul of six wickets in the first innings and two wickets in the second innings. In the super league he got 10 wickets, including five in the match against Madhya Pradesh. Due to his extraordinary performance he was selected to represent North Zone in the Duleep Trophy.
The reason for Vineet Jains success on wickets which aid spin in India is that besides being quick through the air, he bowls late in swingers which batsmen have failed to read. He also bowls perfect yorkers. His outstanding performance has also earned him a job with Indian Airlines for whom he is working for the past three years.
Kumble reaches landmark
ANIL KUMBLE became the second Indian bowler after Kapil Dev and the seventh bowler in one-day internationals to take 200 wickets. He achieved this feat when he bowled Zimbabwean Garry Brant in the first one-day international at Bulawayo on September 26, 1998. It was his 147th one-day international match. Kumble is the first spinner to take 200 wickets in one-day internationals.
The first bowler to take 200 wickets in one-day internationals was India's Kapil Dev. Kapil Dev reached this milestone when he dismissed West Indian Winston Benjamin in his 166th one-day international match on October 22, 1991, at Sharjah.
Pakistan's Wasim Akram who holds the record of taking the highest number of wickets, 356 wickets in 247 matches, was the second bowler to take 200 wickets in one-day internationals. Wasim Akram achieved this feat by dismissing South African Brian McMilllan in his 143rd one-day international at East London on February 15, 1993.
The third bowler to join this elite club of 200 wickets was Australian Craig McDermott. McDermott reached this landmark by dismissing Sri Lankan Kumara Dharmasena in his 136th one-day international at Melbourne on January 18, 1996.
Pakistan's pace bowler Waqar Younis was the fourth bowler to take 200 wickets in one dayers. Waqar Younis completed his 200 wickets when he had Ajay Jadeja on March 9, 1996, at Bangalore in the quarter-final of the sixth World Cup. Waqar achieved this milestone in only his 118th match, the quickest in terms of matches.
The fifth bowler to complete 200 wickets in instant cricket was West Indian Curtly Ambrose. Ambrose reached this milestone in his 146th one-day international at Port of Spain on June 6, 1997, by dimissing Sri Lankan middle order batsman Aravinda de Silva.
Before Anil Kumble, West Indian Courtney Walsh was the last bowler to join this elite club of 200 wickets. He achieved this feat when he dismissed Wasim Akram of Pakistan in his 180th one-day international match at Sharjah on December 12, 1997.
Born on October 17, 1970, at Bangalore, Anil Kumble made his one-day international debut against Sri Lanka at Sharjah on April 25, 1990. Sri Lankan Shaue Hameed Uvais Karnain was his first victim in instant cricket.
Anil Kumble completed his 50 wickets in one dayers by dismissing Arshad Liaq of United Arab Emirates in his 42nd match at Sharjah on April 13, 1994.
In the quarter final of the sixth World Cup at Bangalore on March 9, 1996 against Pakistan, Kumble completed his 100 wickets by dismissing Mushtaq Ahmed in his 78th match.
Zimbabwean David Houghton at Paarl on January 27, 1997 was Kumble's 150th wicket in one dayers. It was Kumble's 106th match.
Popularising billiards in Haryana
BOTH billiards and snooker are played on the green top a specially designed smooth thick cloth spread over a 12 x 6 slate about ¾" thick. These games require tremendous coordination between the mind and the limbs and nerves.
Moreover in this game, like golf, one can fully display ones capabilities as the opponent stays only an onlooker while one is playing and can reach the top even at a very young age.
Fortunately in India we have been very lucky to have acquired dominance in both games especially billiards for the past four decades or so. Right from the times of Wilson Jones in the 50s followed by Micheal Ferriera, Geet Sethi, Subash Aggerwal, Arvind Savur and many others India has produced players who captured the world titles at regular intervals. So much so their performances have carved their names in the minds of all sports enthusiasts in the world.
So far the game had been restricted only to some of the cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Delhi and a few other towns where proper infrastructure, finances and traditions existed. Even in these cities only the upper strata of society could properly benefit as the game is highly expensive and very time consuming. The slogan of catching them young at the grassroot level did not seem to apply in this game as it had the image of having environments not conducive to growing kids. A few years back there was hardly anybody from the whole of North (except a few from Delhi) who showed any results even at the national level.
During the last decade or so the media and television coverages and some stunning performances by players like Alok Kumar Dherminder Lilly, Joy Mehra, Achint Verma from Punjab, and a few individuals from Delhi, Rajasthan, Himachal, Chandigarh and Haryana have brought north to the limelight. In Haryana it was the dedicated efforts of a few players like Anil Sharma Deepak Goel and a few others who kept the torch burning and even at the national level they gave hiccups to many top players but could not dent their way into the top-eight of the country. To produce world beaters it is very important to create such an infrastructure which can infuse, in a natural way, interest and love for the game amongst the masses at all stages. Like for example, in tennis creation of CLTA by Mr Rajan Kashyap and in cricket revamping of the PCA by Mr I.S. Bindra have popularised these games so much amongst the masses that many new stars have already started coming up at various levels.
On similar lines in
Haryana, a state association in billiards and snooker got
revitalised recently under the leadership of Mr Dharam
Veer. To popularise the game, it has been decided by the
association to reorganise the district bodies or clubs so
that proper facilities can be created for the masses
especially youngsters, to have easy access to the game.
Special coaches be made available to them for training.
To provide them competition district and state level
tournaments will be conducted every year. Teams from the
state for juniors and seniors for men and women will be
properly coached and sent to nationals and other
tournaments so that their level of play improves with
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