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Clarification on the match with the Indonesian national team

by Sagar Shah - 08/11/2019

A friendly match between ChessBase India against the Indonesian national team was held from the 28th-31st of October 2019 in Chennai. The aim was to provide ten Indian players a chance to fight it out against high quality opposition. After all the Indonesian team had a hefty rating average of 2373.6. The ChessBase India team consisted of some extremely talented Indian youngsters like Karthikeyan Murali, Arjun Kalyan, Sreeshwan Maralakshikari, Leon Mendonca, Bharath Subramaniyam, Rathanvel, Rohit S., Suyog Wagh, Varshini V., Raghavi N. Times of India published an article which brought about an issue. In this article we would like to clarify the situation and put up the facts clearly.  

On 7th of November 2019, Times of India (TOI) published an article entitled "Chess federation's silence on use of 'India' in private match questioned." It deals with how a match between India and Indonesia was organized by ChessBase India and Chess Gurukul by using the name India and selecting players for the Indian team. Let me clarify the situation:


Kristianus Liem, the manager of the Indonesian national team contacted me for a match with some Indian players that would help the Indonesian national team prepare for their upcoming South East Asian Games that will take play in December. The Indonesian team had 10 players and an average rating of 2373.6. Seeing that they are going to come with their best players, we at ChessBase India felt that it would be an excellent opportunity for some of the Indian players to fight it out against such a strong opposition. We were helped by GM R.B. Ramesh, who when he heard about the match readily agreed to host the match in his training premises. Hence, the match was jointly organized by Percasi (Indonesian Chess Federation), ChessBase India and Chess Gurukul.


Regarding the use of the name India:

In our first article where we asked the chess players of India if they would be interested to play against the Indonesian team, we named it as the India vs Indonesia match. We were informed by AICF that we couldn't name the team as "India" as the selection of the Indian team is the sole prerogative of AICF. Of course, I agreed with this and changed the name of the match to ChessBase India vs Indonesia. In that article, as well as in all the subsequent ones we named the Indian team as ChessBase India team.


Match banner:

Another point mentioned in the TOI article is that "The match banner kept at the venue clearly stated it as 'Indonesia-India Chess Match." The match banner was printed by the Indonesian team and they mentioned it in the banner as the Indonesia - India Chess Match. It created the above controversy which we did not anticipate. In order to avoid any further issues related to the subject we have removed or cropped any pictures involving the banner, because we had no intention to use the name India any way.


T-shirts worn by the players:

The final point mentioned in the TOI article is "Some Indian players wore the T-shirts with AICF logo. Such T-shirts are worn only during an official match." The chess players chose what they wanted to wear for the match, there were no rules related to the dress code. It was after all just a friendly match! There were some players who proudly like to wear their India t-shirts provided by AICF for any chess games that they play. Them wearing the India t-shirt in no way suggests that this is an official match.


I would like to conclude - We, at ChessBase India, are not interested in creating a controversy. This was just a friendly match. Our main aim is to promote chess in the country and we saw this as an opportunity for our youngsters to fight it out against competent opposition. As you can see below, the match was useful for all the 20 players involved in the event and we hope that this article clarifies the situation.

Feedback for the event by the participants:

Kristianus Liem, manager of Indonesian team: "The event was very useful for the Indonesian team. Because only by playing against strong opponents can we find and see the weaknesses of our players. We are sure this experience will help us perform better at the South East Asian Games."


Karthikeyan Murali: "It was a very nice experience. A good training for rapid and blitz format with strong players. Many thanks to the Indonesian team for organising this training match!"


Leon Mendonca: "1. Considering it was 'Chess' and a 'friendly match' I thoroughly enjoyed every moment !!! 2. I have not played many rapid games so it felt good playing this particular time control. Besides I love playing blitz. 3. I understood the 'Indonesian style of play' which has added to my wealth of experience. 4. I love Chennai for millions of reasons and will always look for an excuse to come back here!"


Arjun Kalyan: "It was a great experience both entertaining and instructive. The quality of both the teams was very good and we had fun analysis sessions after the games. It was also quite competitive and exciting. Thanks to ChessBase India and all others who organised this match."


Suyog Wagh: "It was great experience. I tried many different openings. Also learnt many different things from them."

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