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Indian global chess award winner got no money to receive prize

Statesman News Service |

Veteran international chess arbiter V Kameswaran was on Thursday a man with mixed emotions — both happy and sad.

Kameswaran, 72, is happy for he is the first Indian to be named for the FIDE Arbiters Award 2016. He is one of the nine awardees globally.

But India’s first international chess arbiter is also a sad man as he cannot afford the expenses — travel, boarding and lodging — to accept the award at Baku, in Azerbaijan, where the 2016 Baku FIDE Congress general assembly is being held.

Ironically, on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, the Indian teams — both men and women — flew to Baku to participate in the World Chess Olympiad, leaving behind the man who had slogged it out with a handful of other chess lovers to develop the game in Chennai, the cradle of Indian chess.

"It would cost me over Rs 1,00,000 to go to Baku to receive the award which I could not afford at this point of time," Kameswaran said trying to sound normal though his voice betrayed his inner turmoil.

According to Kameswaran, the world chess body FIDE had told him that they do not have the budget for flying in and out the arbiter awardees.

"The All India Chess Federation (AICF) and the Tamil Nadu Chess Association too declined to take care of the travel expenses. What really saddens me is that there is not even a congratulatory message from the Indian chess body," Kameswaran said.

"Kameswaran is one of the few chess players who worked hard to popularise chess in Chennai. He did that way back in the 1960s. He was instrumental in organising several tournaments in Chennai and in Tamil Nadu," R. Raghunathan, a former National B player said.

"The barest minimum the AICF could have done is to have greeted Kameswaran on his achievement," Raghunathan said.

"It is really shocking and also saddening to see his situation. What the officials have not realised is that this is an honour to the country. He has been an international arbiter for 35 long years and has also been an arbiter for three major chess tournaments," a chess coach not wishing to be identified said.

The coach, during his college days, has seen Kameswaran slogging it out while conducting tournaments.

"Kameswaran is a legend in Tamil Nadu chess circles in his own way. This is the first time the global chess body FIDE is recognising an Indian chess arbiter. The whole chess fraternity should be celebrating this. It is really a shame that we are not doing that," he remarked.

According to Kameswaran, he has secured the necessary visa to reach Baku — what he needs is finance for the trip.