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Young GMs classified ‘persona non grata’, yet unperturbed


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Chennai, Aug 30: Although the Indian chess fraternity were shocked at the decision of Bengal Chess Association (BCA) to term Grand Masters Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Deep Sengupta as 'persona non grata', the two players remain unperturbed.

"There is no official communication to me from BCA. I heard they have decided not to invite me as a guest for their functions. I am not affected by the decision," Ganguly told IANS on Friday.

Ganguly, 36, is ranked eighth in India with an Elo rating of 2,630.

Confirming the development, BCA Secretary Atanu Lahiri told IANS: "The two players were not banned. The BCA committee has decided not to invite them as brand ambassadors or as a special guest to grace our functions. They gave an interview to a media against the association which is an act of indiscipline."

"How can BCA do such a thing. Not inviting Ganguly for chess functions in West Bengal is like not inviting former World Champion Viswanathan Anand for chess events in India," a senior official of All India Chess Federation (AICF) told IANS.

The BCA's action against the two GMs is related to their critical comments about the way in which the National Team Championship-2019 was held in Kolkata by BCA.

"The playing hall was small for the large number of teams –about 45 that participated. There were many donor entries. The space was cramped and there were large number of spectators. Further, there was constant noise at the venue disturbing the players concentration," Ganguly said.

According to him, many players had objected to the playing conditions as BCA is capable of organising big tournaments.

"Lahiri himself has organised several tournaments in a nice manner. He has also given me chess tips when I was a kid," Ganguly said.

Ganguly and Sengupta voiced their views to a chess magazine which was not liked by BCA and a decision to ban them from official functions was taken.

"The decision does not affect me in any way. As a kid I used to look at India's second GM Dibyendu Barua with awe. Similarly, a small kid may get more inspiration to perform better if he/she gets a prize from my hands," Ganguly said.

Ganguly is now preparing hard for the upcoming Chess World Cup-2019 to be held in Russia early next month.

When contacted, Sengupta told IANS that he is now focussed on training and upcoming tournament than have his mind diverted.

The debarring of Ganguly and Sengupta was brought out by Barua while levelling various charges against Lahiri, including misuse of power as BCA Secretary and conflict of interest with regard to a West Bengal government project to teach chess to tribal students in the state.

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