After a year and a half that saw unprecedented infighting leading to an acrimonious election process, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) is showing signs of putting the game back on track.

In its Annual General body meeting here on Sunday, it was decided to return to over-the-board competitions in a phased manner, reduce the financial burden on the registered players, hold at least one elite tournament annually, bid for the Chess Olympiad, among others.

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Reflecting on the roadmap ahead, the newly-elected president Sanjay Kapoor told Sportstar, “Our players-first approach will remain paramount in everything that we do. First of all, we have decided to do away with multiple registration fees paid by the players at the district, state and National level.

“From now on, the players who get registered at the district level pay an unchanged, one-time annual fee of Rs. 250. Out of this, Rs. 125 will go to the affiliates, who will give a share to the districts.”

Explaining the move, AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said, “Though this brings down AICF’s revenue through registration fees, the onus will be on the district and states to attract more chess players. This makes it easier for the AICF to identify the pro-active districts/states from those who are laid back in their approach.”

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Meanwhile, Chauhan was named to replace D. V. Sundar as the FIDE delegate. Ajay Patel will be the new president of Asian Zone 3.7, in place of Ravindra Dongre.

Chauhan was pleased with the way the conflicts were resolved amicably in several states. In Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the two rival bodies have come together, thereby putting an end to years of conflict. As a result, Rajasthan Chess Association and Maharashtra Chess Association will be back as the governing bodies in these states.

In Bengal, a five-member committee was formed, including two members each from the warring factions of Dibyendu Barua and Atanu Lahiri, to hold fresh elections within six months as per the amended constitution, in line with the Sports Code. Both Barua and Lahiri expressed happiness over the development.

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Kapoor also announced AICF’s decision to bid for the 2026 Chess Olympiad, 2022 women’s Grand Prix and plans to hold the Chess League by the year-end.

It was also decided to withdraw the long-running cases against late P. T. Ummer Koya, a former secretary of the AICF. “We want to end all litigation and get on with promotion of chess. There is a lot to be done and non-profit bodies like chess cannot be spending players’ money to fight legal battles,” said Kapoor, a first-time AICF office bearer who also is the Chairman of the Kanpur Cricket Association.

Several state office bearers hailed the new initiatives and acknowledged the combination of Kapoor and Chauhan for making all efforts to end the conflicts in various states.

The two of them met the warring factions from different states and played mediatory roles in resolving their differences.

“The representatives from various affiliates were very positive and forthcoming in their response to the suggestions made. The AICF has also earmarked Rs. 10 lakh to each of our 33 affiliates towards upgradation of their offices and communication channels so that it helps them to serve the game more efficiently,” concluded Kapoor.