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'Bharat Chess Player Rating System' prototype to be ready in 3 months: AICF chief (Interview)

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Chennai, May 7 (IANS) The All India Chess Federation (AICF) is confident of rolling out a fully functional prototype of the National Rating System or ‘Bharat Chess Players Rating System’ in three months, said the federation’s president, Nitin Narang.

Several chess players and tournament organisers have welcomed the move, though they said the Indian rating system is a revenue-generating opportunity for the AICF.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, entrepreneur Narang for the first time delves into the reasons for going for the ‘Bharat Chess Rating System’ and the purpose it would serve. (Excerpts)

IANS: What is the purpose the Indian rating system or the `Bharat Chess Players Rating System’ would serve? Already there is a FIDE Rating System that is globally accepted.

Narang: The introduction of a National Rating System in chess, serves to offer a more focused and inclusive approach to ranking players within India. While FIDE Ratings hold sway in international competitions, National Ratings delve deeper, especially at the grassroots level, providing a nuanced evaluation of players’ skills within the country.

In India, despite the prevalence of around 400 FIDE Rated chess tournaments annually, a significant portion of these competitions are concentrated in established urban centers. This leaves out a lot of chess enthusiasts spread across the nation. By instituting a National Rating System, our aim is to unify the chess community, bringing local events from various corners of the country under one umbrella. This strategic move facilitates the organisation of more structured tournaments at local levels, fostering a systematic and cost-effective environment for players of all backgrounds.

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Through this expansion of events, we anticipate uncovering latent talent and engaging with new waves of players previously overlooked by the traditional tournament circuit. By democratising access to competitive chess, the National Rating System in India seeks to take the sport across diverse landscapes, ensuring that every aspiring player has the opportunity to shine on the national stage.

IANS: Who will design Bharat’s own rating system? When will the rating system be ready?

Narang: Our internal team is collaborating closely with experts. With their combined expertise and innovative approaches, I am confident that our team will deliver a fully functional prototype within three months.

IANS: It is said that the proposed player rating system is a revenue generating mechanism for AICF. Now many chess tournaments are being held outside AICF’s fold and the federation is not able to get tournament recognition fees. Is AICF planning to tap into this segment by offering its own rating system and increase its fee revenue?

Narang: Our vision for the National Rating system transcends mere profit motives. Obviously, it will unlock revenue opportunities for all stakeholders but it’s more about unlocking the immense potential of chess across India. As President of the Indian Chess Federation, my goal is to catalyse the expansion of chess beyond urban hubs, reaching deep into the villages where untapped talents reside. Our endeavor is not to discredit existing local events. They serve as valuable platforms for players.

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However, by instituting a National Rating System, we aim to bring cohesion and structure to the chess landscape. Our ambition is to democratise the sport, making it accessible through localised, affordable events while simultaneously nurturing a competitive spirit.

IANS: Is there a possibility of reduction in the number of FIDE rated tournaments in India with the emergence of AICF rated chess tournaments?

Narang: Introducing the National Rating system in India is not about diminishing the significance of FIDE-rated events, rather, it is about enriching the chess landscape by incorporating a wider array of local tournaments, school competitions, and district championships into a unified framework. These grassroots events, currently conducted as non-FIDE rated, are essential breeding grounds for talent. By providing a platform for these events within the National Rating System, we aim to expand chess participation and produce a more vibrant community of active players.

The coexistence of FIDE Ratings and National Ratings will create a symbiotic relationship, enhancing the overall chess ecosystem. While FIDE Ratings maintain their global recognition and importance, the National Rating System will bolster grassroots involvement and ensure that every level of play is valued and recognised. Together, they will foster a healthy chess environment, driving the growth of the sport and nurturing a new generation of passionate players.

In fact, the number of FIDE rated tournaments will increase after the introduction of AICF rated tournaments.

IANS: Will AICF rating become compulsory for getting a FIDE rating?

Narang: Our aim is to foster a harmonious coexistence between the FIDE and National Rating System, each complementing the other to enrich the chess landscape across India. While FIDE-rated events predominantly cater to urban settings, the National Rating System shines a spotlight on rural areas, ensuring inclusivity and equal opportunities for players from all backgrounds.

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Crucially, there are no intentions to mandate National Rating for attaining FIDE Ratings. Both systems serve distinct yet equally valuable purposes, with the National Rating System championing grassroots involvement without imposing restrictions on players’ aspirations for international recognition.

In this spirit of inclusivity and cooperation, we envision a chess community that thrives on diversity, where every player’s journey is celebrated.

IANS: The proposed National Rating System may not be considered for recruitment under the sports quota. Your views.

Narang: As we prepare to roll out the National Rating System, our focus is on creating a fair and inclusive platform that opens doors for players across India. Our National tournaments serve as crucial breeding grounds for talented individuals seeking sports quota placements, and the introduction of the National Rating System promises to inject fresh talent into the ecosystem.

By nurturing this pipeline of new talent, we aim to provide countless aspiring players with the opportunities they rightly deserve. The National Rating System will serve as a catalyst, amplifying the reach and impact of our Nationals, ultimately fostering a dynamic and thriving chess community where talent knows no bounds.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

–IANS

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French Open 2024: Casper Ruud storms into second round with straight sets victory

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Paris, May 28 (IANS) Casper Ruud, a two-time French Open finalist, advanced to the second round of the 2024 French Open after a commanding victory over Felipe Alves 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in the men’s singles opening round. Demonstrating why he is regarded as a formidable contender, the world No. 7 relied on his powerful groundstrokes and strategic play to keep Alves at bay throughout the match.

From the onset, Ruud’s dominance was evident. Serving at close to 90% on his first serves, the Norwegian quickly established control, breaking Alves’ serve to go up 5-3 in the first set after a prolonged battle on his seventh break opportunity. The first set was secured with a decisive 6-3 finish, setting the tone for the rest of the match.

In the second set, Ruud’s tactical prowess shone through as he did not allow Alves a single break point, maintaining consistent pressure with his aggressive baseline play.

An early break in the third set further solidified Ruud’s grip on the match, and despite Alves matching his power game initially, errors began to creep into the Brazilian’s play. Ruud’s relentless consistency saw him through to a straight-sets victory, sealed in just under two hours.

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Fresh off his recent victory in Geneva, Ruud’s confidence was palpable on the Paris clay. Reflecting on his performance, he expressed his deep affinity for the French Open, stating, “This is one of the biggest tournaments for me and for everyone every year. One of my highlights. I’m always looking forward to it. The last two years have given me so much here in Paris. I hope I can make it another good year.”

He acknowledged a satisfactory clay season despite some setbacks in Madrid and Rome, adding, “All in all, I’m happy.”

Looking ahead, Ruud will face either Monaco’s Valentin Vacherot or Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

–IANS

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Boxing World qualifiers: Nishant Dev, Sachin Siwach register convincing wins to reach pre-quarters (Ld)

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) Nishant Dev out-punched and outclassed his Mongolian opponent in just over two minutes in the 71kg second-round bout to reach the pre-quarterfinal stage while Sachin Siwach also advanced to the Round of 16 with a convincing win in the 57kg weight category at the 2nd Boxing World qualifiers for Paris Olympics in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday.

Nishant Dev began with a flurry of punches against Mongolia’s Otgonbaatar Byamba-Erdeneto and forced a standing count in the very first minute. A combination of a jab and cross-hook led to another standing count and the Referee Stopped the Contest (RSC) with 58 seconds still left to play in Round 1.

The 23-year-old will now take on Thailand’s Peerapat Yeasungnoen for a place in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Later in the day, Siwach began similarly, looking to land as many punches as possible on Frederik Jensen of Denmark, and grabbed the advantage in Round 1. His confidence only grew as the match progressed as he earned a unanimous verdict from all five judges in Round 2 and 3 to ultimately grab the win with a 5-0 verdict.

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Earlier, Abhinash Jamwal was unlucky to be knocked out in the 63.5kg category.

The 21-year-old fought back with gumption after losing a close first round against Colombia’s Jose Manuel Viafara Fory and clearly dominated the third and final round forcing a tie on points from all five judges.

As per the rules, the judges were then asked to again weigh the performance and decide the winner; all of them then finally voted in Fory’s favour after a long deliberation to seal the final score 5:0 in favour of the Colombian.

On Wednesday, national champion Arundhati Choudhary (66kg) and 2022 Asian Games bronze medallist Narender Berwal (+92 kg) will kick off their campaigns in Round of 32 while Ankushita Boro, who convincingly won her Round of 32 bout in 60kg weight category will be in action against Rimma Volossenko of Kazakhstan.

–IANS

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Chelsea close on Enzo Maresca in their hunt for head coach: Report

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) Chelsea FC are closing in on Leicester City boss Enzo Maresca in their hunt for their next head coach. According to reports, Chelsea have been given permission by Leicester to open contact with their current boss.

According to the report by Sky Sports, Chelsea informed McKenna and Ipswich Town of their decision to pursue Enzo and expressed great admiration for the work he has done with the newly promoted club.

“I think we should expect a decision this week, Chelsea want this sorted out by the start of June. Eghbali (Co-owner) has been in London for a long time and was at the FA Cup final on Saturday. He’s due to leave London pretty soon, but I expect a decision this week,” reported Sky Sports.

The Italian is said to have a release clause of 8-10 million Pounds at Leicester which Chelsea may have to pay if they are to secure his services.

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Maresca emerged as a surprise candidate with the club having been linked to Thomas Frank, Xavi, Kieran McKenna and Robert De Zerbi in the past weeks.

Provided the negotiation does not hit any snag, Maresca is likely to become the new Chelsea head coach as early as next week.

The team finished sixth in the league despite going on a spending frenzy last summer transfer window. The new manager that is trusted with the project will inherit a talented, young squad and hope they can improve this season.

–IANS

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AIFF league committee recommends inviting bids for new IWL team

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) The League Committee of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) on Tuesday recommended inviting bids for a new team for the Indian Women’s League (IWL). The meeting was chaired by the deputy chairperson of the league committee, Arif Ali. Other members of the committee, including Caitano Fernandes, Anirban Dutta, Sangrang Brahma, and Kiran Chougule, were present along with the AIFF acting secretary general M. Satyanarayan.

The committee, in its first order of the day, discussed revisions to the entry fees of various leagues, the I-League, I-League 2, I-League 3, Indian Women’s League (IWL), IWL 2, Futsal Club Championship, Youth Leagues, and the Super Cup.

The committee, which deliberated on the number of teams to be accepted into I-League 3 this season, decided to take a wait-and-watch policy and felt a final decision should only be arrived at after June 7, the last date of entries for the league from the member state associations.

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The league committee discussed at length ways to curb age cheating in the Youth Leagues. It recommended that “If a team is found to have three or more overaged players in their squad, and if any of the aforementioned players take part in any match, the result/results of the match/matches in question will be nullified. The team will stand disqualified from the tournament,” read a statement released by AIFF on Tuesday.

“If less than three players are above the specified age limit, any match the players in question have participated in, will be awarded to the opponents with a 3-0 margin of victory, or retain the respective match result, whichever is greater,” it further added.

The committee unanimously confirmed the relegation of NEROCA FC and TRAU FC from the I-League as per their league results. The Committee also decided to refer to the AIFF executive committee on the matter of these two teams’ away I-League matches against Aizawl FC at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, in Aizawl. Both NEROCA FC and TRAU FC refused to travel to Aizawl citing security reasons.

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The committee recommended that bids be invited from interested parties to form a new Indian Women’s League team (to make it 10 teams), for the league to complete its quota of 90 matches, as the FIFA and AFC recommended.

–IANS

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'Pakistan can beat any team', says Haris Rauf ahead of 3rd T20I against England

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Cardiff (UK), May 28 (IANS) Ahead of the third T20I against England, Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf is confident of his team’s ability to bounce back in the series and said they can beat any opponent on any given day. The first T20I between England and Pakistan was washed out due to rain and in the second game, the hosts defeated the touring side by 23 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the four-game contest.

The 30-year-old said the team is “confident” to beat any opposition and to play better cricket in the remaining two matches of the series. “When you lose a game it hurts, but as a team, we are confident. We feel we can beat any opposition on any day. We’ve done it in the past, too. When you make mistakes you learn and try not to repeat those mistakes. We’re looking to play better in the next few games and make a comeback,” ICC quoted Rauf as saying in the press conference before the match.

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“The camp is relaxed. We’re enjoying ourselves. We’re trying to follow our game plans and execute them well. The results haven’t often been in our favour recently but if you stick to your plans they can sometimes follow,” he added.

Rauf made his comeback in the last match after spending three months on the sidelines. He returned with the figures of 2-34 in his four overs after leaking 17 runs in his first over. The right-arm pacer dislocated his shoulder during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February which made him miss the home series against New Zealand and Ireland tour earlier this month.

Reflecting upon his injury layoff time, Rauf said it was a “blessing in disguise” and it allowed him to reassess his game plan. “I was injured the last few months but if you believe in yourself, then the layoff can be a blessing in disguise. Because you have time to recover and reassess your game plans. I felt good coming back to cricket. When you play for your country, it makes you very proud,” he said.

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He added that the rehabilitation process was a struggle and attaining the pace and accuracy is difficult after returning from an injury. “It’s hard. It’s a struggle during your rehab, and it’s difficult when you come back to maintain that pace and accuracy. But if you believe in yourself, it makes things easier. When I wasn’t on the team and rehabbing, I had a lot of time to think about my game and work on myself. Thankfully I’m back now, and the [T20] World Cup is coming up,” the pacer added.

Rauf said the ongoing series against England is difficult but whatever the outcome will be, it will give them a learning before heading to the T20 World Cup. “Before the [T20] World Cup, if you win a series, it gives you confidence, but even if you lose, you understand where you made mistakes and you learn from them,” he said.

“This series is difficult, but we’ll try to win it. The focus is of course on the World Cup, which we aim to win to make our country proud,” Raud added.

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The third T20I will be played in Cardiff on Tuesday.

–IANS

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