Special Correspondent

  • Umakanth was found carrying a bluetooth device
  • Pending enquiry his mobile phone and bluetooth headset were confiscated

    NEW DELHI: The much-talked about misuse of technology in chess came to light for the first time in India when Umakant Sharma was "caught" and expelled from the Subroto Mukherjee memorial international rating chess tournament at Subroto Park here on Tuesday morning on the suspicion of receiving `external help' during his games.

    In the seventh round, Umakanth was found carrying a bluetooth device, hidden under his woollen cap, after a body search conducted by the organiser, the Indian Air Force, on those playing on the top eight boards.

    Pending further enquiry, Umakant's mobile phone and bluetooth headset were confiscated. The rules of the game do not permit a player to carry phones and its accessories, wireless or otherwise, during a game.

    Umakant, who defended himself in a written explanation to the organiser, was not available for comment.

    `Thorough enquiry'

    The All India Chess Federation (AICF) Secretary D. V. Sundar has assured The Hindu that the federation would conduct a thorough enquiry and get to the truth of the matter. "Nothing will be swept under the carpet. The AICF will ensure transparency and the truth will be out soon," he said.

    In fact, right through the year, Umakant has been among those under suspicion of using unfair means to gain the desired results. Umakant began the year at a modest 1933 and, after playing just 64 games, reached a whopping 2484 on October 1. During this period, Umakant won a few tournaments ahead of several illustrious players.

    The lingering suspicion reached a flashpoint on Monday when Karnataka's Sriram Sarja made a written complaint after discovering the sequence of moves made by Umakant in their sixth round game matched those suggested by a chess playing software called HIARCS 10. Later, International Master Rahul Shetty also complained in writing, stating he, too, had noticed the unusual sequence and suggested a body search.

    Minutes after the start of the seventh round, an Air Force official, using a metal detector, "caught" Umakant, the only offender. Later, Umakant resigned from his game against Shetty.

    Shetty went on to draw his eighth round game against Sriram Jha and maintained his half-point lead at 7.5 points.

    The results: Eighth round: Sriram Jha (7) drew with Rahul Shetty (7.5); Harish Sharma (6.5) drew with R. Balasubramanium (6.5); Prakash Ram (6.5) drew with N. Sudhakar Babu (6); Arghyadip Das (6.5) bt Sudhir Sinha (5.5); Md. Irhad (5.5) lost to Sriram Sarja (5.5); Santu Mondal (6) drew with Nassir Wajih (5.5); Gajendra Singh (5.5) lost to Gurpreet Pal Singh (6.5); Shankar Majumdar (5.5) lost to Vipul Subhashi (6.5); Deepan Chakkravarthy (6) bt S. K. Sharma (5.5); M. P. Ajith (5) lost to P. Konguvel (6).

    Seventh round: Shetty bt Umakant; Gurpreet lost to Jha; Himanshu lost to Prakash Ram; Subhashi drew with Arghyadip; Santosh Sinha lost to Balasubramanium; Babu drew with Mondal; Wajih drew with Gajendra; Rahul Sangma lost to Harish Sharma; Konguvel drew with Soni; Sarja bt Avinash Sethi; Vinoth lost to Majumdar; S. K. Sharma bt G. B. Joshi; Ankit Khattar lost to Md. Irshad; Sudhir Sinha bt Pranjal Phukan; Deepan bt Manjunath Jain; Abhimanyu Poddar lost to Dinesh Sharma; D. K. Chopra lost to V. Koshy.

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