Other Sports

Karun Duggal: 'Didn't Violate Guidelines, But AICF Still Banned Me,' Seeks Compensation

Karun Duggal issued a legal notice to AICF, demanding Rs 1 crore in compensation for stripping him of his Elo rating and banning him in 2010 from participating in any state or national tournaments. The ban was imposed due to suspicions of his association with the then-AICF rival, the Chess Association of India

Representative image showing a chess board

Two-time former state chess champion Karun Duggal of Delhi on Monday clarified that he did not violate All India Chess Federation's guidelines, following seeking for compensation from the national body for disrobing his Elo rating and banning him in way back in 2010. (More Sports News)

He has served AICF with a legal notice, claiming Rs 1 crore compensation for disrobing him of his Elo rating and banning him in 2010 from participating in any state and national tournament, on suspicion of him being associated with then-AICF rival, the Chess Association of India.

Recalling the same, Duggal thanked British Grandmaster Nigel Short and Indian GM Abhijeet Kunte for helping him restore his rating during a trial at the Competition Commission of India.

"In 2010, AICF removed my rating despite me having not played in any tournament termed 'Unauthorised' by AICF till that date, and they did not allow me to participate in any tournament under the fold of AICF," he told PTI.

"Post that, I, along with three other chess players, went to the Delhi High Court, and I and Gurpreet Pal Singh fought a lot before our ratings were restored in 2018 (by AICF), thanks to the intervention from British GM Nigel Short.

"I and Gurpreet were mainly targeted, and we took a stand and fought back. The AICF sent letters to Railways, where Gurpreet is employed, to stop him from playing even in departmental tournaments and to take action against him."

Duggal further divulged that besides removing the ratings of about 150 players, around 2,500 players who featured in CAI tournaments were also banned.

He also revealed that AICF used to take an undertaking from the players (even minors) that they would not participate in any chess tournament, which is not recognised by them (AICF).

After banning those players,  who played in so-called 'Unauthorised chess events' to allow them entry in district/state or any open chess tournaments recognised by AICF, the national body offered a one-time clemency based on an apology letter from the player, along with prize money won from so-called 'Unauthorised chess tournaments'.

"First, the AICF kept telling us that we played in unauthorised tournaments and about 150 players' ratings were removed by FIDE on the behest of the national body," Duggal continued.

"Second, AICF took the names of around 2,500 (Indian) players from the website www.chess-results.com who participated in the chess tournament of CAI and compiled the list. The names were sent to state associations and told they should not be allowed to participate in any tournament.

"Third, AICF issued a warning to the players and instructed them to sign an undertaking and submit the money earned from CAI tournaments to them to be eligible to play in AICF tournaments."

The 50-year-old, currently a government school teacher, has been left bemused as to why no solid reason was ever provided to these players by the AICF about their rating being removed and provisionally banned.

Duggal had an Elo rating of 1,989 in 2010 before being scrapped by FIDE in 2010.

"To date, I am perplexed to see that even after the Merger of CAI with AICF, why AICF kept on appealing against the CCI order? We were not given a reasonable explanation as to why we were not allowed to participate in any state/national tournament and were presumed 'banned'," he questioned.

"What happened actually was that CAI had conducted a tournament in Delhi. I was a national arbiter at that time and they requested me to help them conduct the tournament. And for this reason, AICF banned me."

However, he acknowledged that he participated in a CAI tournament after his rating was removed.

Meanwhile, Duggal's cause also found support from Gurpreet, who feels that compensation for the lost 'peak time' is a justified move.

"As our ratings have now been restored by FIDE (in around 2019), we are free to participate in tournaments now. However, our 'peak time' is gone, and that's what we demand the compensation for," Gurpreet told PTI.

"It should be the players' choice as to which tournament he wants to play. That's what the CCI ruled in its verdict, and compensation on the same is totally justified."

When asked when he intends to file the legal notice to AICF for seeking compensation, he stated that he is waiting for the final clearance from his lawyer.

The efforts to reach to AICF for an explanations went unanswered.