Organisers checkmate participants of int'l chess event with poor arrangements

Chess players at the 7th Mumbai Mayor’s Cup were shocked to learn that the venue had lack of space and dirty washrooms; students were stuffed in the same hall for matches, with very little elbow room

An International chess tournament underway in the city has left participants and their parents fuming over the poor quality of arrangements. Players at The 7th Mumbai Mayor’s Cup — International Open Chess Tournament 2014 were shocked when they weren’t provided basic amenities at the venue.

Parents complained that the halls were not air-conditioned as promised, nor was there proper seating arrangements for them
Parents complained that the halls were not air-conditioned as promised, nor was there proper seating arrangements for them

The tournament, which commenced on June 2, is being held at Thakur College, Kandivli (E). Most participants are children. It was initially supposed to be hosted at the Sardar Patel Indoor Stadium at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI), which changed to Chetana College in Bandra. Authorities finally decided upon the Kandivli venue.

Dantelle Joubert (above) from South Africa has been to India four times for chess tournaments and said this was her worst experience. Many foreign participants complained about the lack of western toilets. Pics/Kaushik Thanekar
Dantelle Joubert (above) from South Africa has been to India four times for chess tournaments and said this was her worst experience. Many foreign participants complained about the lack of western toilets. Pics/Kaushik Thanekar

“Since the venue was changed, many of us from other states booked hotels in Bandra. We found out very late about the change. We now travel many hours to and fro every day to get to the venue,” said V Rangarajan, father of a Chennai participant.

Bad choice of venue
The games are being held on the 1st, 6th and 7th floors, only participants are allowed to use the lone functional lift in the college building. Parents were left gasping for breath, as they took the stairs.

“I have attended several chess championships across the country, including small towns, where participants and their parents are treated with respect,” said a parent. With the tournament spread across three floors, many participants missed their matches because they were trying to figure out the venue for their next match.

On Monday, the college staff switched off the electricity supply and the main stairway, too, was locked. “My son got trapped on the first floor, while I was waiting for him on the 6th floor for his next match. We told the authorities about this and by the time the problem was solved, my son was late for his match and lost,” stated another parent.

No AC, poor toilets
Players from 19 countries are competing for the top prize Rs 3 lakh. They were told there was only a toilet available to them on the 7th floor.

Many female participants from Russia and South Africa complained about the lack of western-style loos. Moreover, authorities had promised spacious air-conditioned rooms, and had even charged more than a regular tournament.

“The washrooms are kept in terrible condition; the games are being held in rooms with no air-conditioning and many students are being stuffed into the same room at the same time, making it difficult to concentrate,” said Dantelle Joubert (14), a participant from South Africa. This is her fourth chess tournament in India, and her worst experience by far.

“Other tournaments across the country charge around Rs 1,500-2,000. Here, we have paid Rs 3,500-5,000 and this is how we get treated. I have decided to never come to this tournament again,” said the mother of another participant from Hyderabad.

Most have recently returned from a similar tournament in Bhubaneshwar, and voiced their anger at the shoddy management of the event. Praveena Kumari, mother of a participant from Andhra Pradesh, stated that nowhere had she seen such a poor display from organisers.

Another mother was furious, as participants were not even provided with water bottles and food, a norm elsewhere. Nearly 800 young chess champions are in the city for the event that will end on June 9. The total prize money is Rs 24 lakh.

The other side
When mid-day spoke to the organisers, they pointed out that the problems were all logistical and solved immediately. “On Monday, the college cleaning staff was not aware of the tournament so they turned off the electricity. But we solved this problem immediately.

Even the washroom on the sixth floor has some renovation work going on, which is almost done, and the washroom will be made available to participants now,” said Praful Zaveri from the Venus Chess Academy, part of Mumbai Chess Association that has organised this event.

He added that the venue had to be changed last minute because of technical reasons, and that the NSCI had quoted an exorbitant amount for the tournament this year, necessitating the change.

Ravindra Dongre, treasurer of the All-India Chess Federation, added, “The problems are negligible and logistical, but parents are making a big deal. We informed parents about the change of venue in advance.”

Rs 3,500 to Rs 5,000
Amount organisers charged from participants in the event

Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000
Amount parents say others organisers charge around India

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