The global chess body FIDE has the right to reinstate the Elo ratings of dozens of Indian players who were banned by the All India Chess Federation (AICF), said a senior official. “The key point is that FIDE removed the ratings of these players, and that FIDE has the right to reinstate them,” Grandmaster and FIDE Vice President Nigel Short told IANS. When asked whether AICF had told FIDE that banning of Indian players is an internal matter, Short said, “There has been a lot of correspondence on this issue between AICF and FIDE and it is difficult to recall exactly what has been said and when.” “Nearly a decade ago, FIDE, at the behest of AICF, removed the Elo ratings of dozens of players and expunged their names from the records. Today, we are delighted to welcome back all those players with immediate effect,” FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said in a statement on Monday.

“Whether a previous FIDE administration — one notoriously more concerned with electoral votes than with players’ rights — erred in doing so, at the time, is a matter for debate,” Short added. Dozens of Indian chess players were banned by AICF from participating in official tournaments and their Elo ratings withdrawn as they had played in chess tournaments not authorised by the Indian chess body. The British chess Grandmaster Short believes that unrated tournaments should have nothing to with the AICF.

“If Vishy Anand (Viswanathan Anand) takes 10,000 rupees off his neighbour over blitz one evening, I see no reason why he should have to hand over half his winnings and issue a grovelling apology, or face permanent banishment, merely because he failed to seek prior approval from the AICF,” Short said. “That, to my mind, would be a gross overreach of authority. And it appears that the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which has already ruled on the AICF’s abuse of a dominant position, would probably agree,” Short remarked.

According to Short, FIDE President Dvorkovich has not commented publicly on the matter. “However, I would certainly not be misrepresenting his views to state that, nine years later, he believes it is time to move on. I support him wholeheartedly on this,” Short remarked. In February, AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan met FIDE President Dvorkovich. Soon after that, the FIDE President made the announcement of welcoming back the banned Indian chess players.

Queried about that meeting, Short said: “I am aware that Arkady Dvorkovich has spoken to Bharat Singh recently. I was not privy to their discussions, although I do know that the subject of unrated tournaments was broached.” In January this year, Short was in India and met many chess players, businessmen and others associated with chess. “During my week’s stay in India and interaction with a different set of people associated with chess, I have a better grasp of status of chess management in India,” Short then told IANS.

He had also said that FIDE has a policy of non-interference in the activities of national chess federations like the AICF and added: “If players are banned for playing chess and if a federation wants to control every aspect of chess, then it is a concern for us (FIDE). We will do something for that.”