AICF President Unveils Plans for National Chess Rating System

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…says Narang

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 us, 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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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