Too young for the prize?

LUCKNOW SEPT. 26. Can an organiser choose the winner of an age-group prize or is it automatically decided by the points scored by a player? To put it differently, is a winner decided on the basis of points scored by him or his age? The answers to these questions are obvious.

But in the Piloo Mody international rating chess tournament, which concluded here, the answer given by the organiser Naveen Wal defies both reason and logic.

"This is my tournament and I will decide which prize goes to which player?,'' declared Wal and decided to deny the National junior champion Abhijeet Gupta, the top prize of Rs. 2,000 for being the highest scorer in the under-16 age-group.

Instead, Gupta was given the under-14 first prize of Rs. 1,000. The under-16 top prize went to K. Nikhilesh Kumar despite the Andhra boy finishing way behind Abhijeet.

Said Wal: "Abhijit is under-14 so how can I consider him for prizes in the under-16 category? Had he given me in writing that he be considered for under-16, then it would have been a different matter. How can he stake his claim on the under-16 prize on the final day?''

When asked if there was any instruction from the organiser to the participants to convey their preferences, in writing, for the age-group prizes, Wal replied in the negative.

Then why penalise Abhijeet? Sticking to his stand, he continued: "I am looking at the age of the boy and not the points scored by him.'' He completely ignored the fact that an under-14 boy obviously qualifies for the under-16 prize.

As though the organisation of the week-long event was not bad enough, came this case of injustice to not only Abhijeet but also to Suman Basu, Debaditya Sinha Biswas, Y. Sandeep and Sankar Majumdar, who all finished behind Abhijeet in the under-14 prize-list. The consolation prizes are kept to encourage players but here, it was not the case, at least in one section.

According to the tournament prospectus, players finishing outside the top-five bracket were eligible for one age-group prize as well. Abhijit finished sixth overall with a stupendous performance scoring eight points. The decision meant a net loss of Rs. 1,000 for the youngster and lesser amounts to those who followed him.

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