Kolkata: Jaisal Shah received the National Child Award For ‘Exceptional’ Achievement 2017 in the field of sports (chess) and undoubtedly it is a good news if looked at from the perspective that he is just seven years old.
But instead of congratulatory messages, allegations have poured in thick and fast as this decision has caused a huge uproar in Mumbai’s chess fraternity. Many, including the parents of young chess stars who wished to remain anonymous, have alleged that the seven-year-old Shah, who claims to be the U-7 national champion despite not even being a state-level champion is quite undeserving of this prestigious honour.
As a matter of fact, the Mumbai City District Chess Association (MCDCA) has sent a letter addressed to Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, the Women and Child Development minister, appealing for a step to be taken in this regard.
The letter, a copy of which is in possession of SportsCrunch read, “I would like to bring to your notice with regards to the discrepancy in the National Child award for exceptional achievements, sports-chess given to master Jaisal Shah of Mumbai city.
It also added, “Master Jaisal Shah has claimed in his achievements submitted to you that he’s been a national Under-7 champion player but the fact is he has not even won the state championship , his international rating is also very low and he has not played or won at any international tournaments.”
SportsCrunch also spoke to Jaisal’s mother Kinjal, who defended her son against all these allegations saying that he is very hard-working and has achieved success without the guidance of a coach.
She said, “I would like to say that Jaisal is hard-working and has always done self-study. He also has never got the guidance of expensive coaches. Recently in a tournament, he defeated Asia’s number one player Aarav Dengla. He formed a team and they participated in the Inter-school Teen Chess Championship where they won the gold also. He mentored the members in his group.”
Further elaborating on Jaisal’s credibility and prowess, she said, “They (other candidates) all are deserving but he (Jaisal) wasn’t in the limelight. Many people don’t know about him. He is doing well in academics and he also is international rank 1 in Maths and English Olympiad.”
But while all these seem convincing enough to make one believe that the award has been given to a deserved recipient, many in the local chess governing body -Maharashtra City District Chess Association do not have a clue as to how he managed to bag this award.
“These are selected by the Women and Youth empowerment ministry and they have their selection criteria. But I absolutely have no idea how this guy managed to get this,” said Rahul Shah, the president of the Mumbai City District Chess Association.
When asked as to whether he thought that Jaisal actually deserved the award or not, he confidently suggested, “That the jury has to decide that who’s deserving and who’s not. Unfortunately the process is such that the (Mumbai) city chess association doesn’t come into play in this. Ideally the local body should certify and then only it can go to the national level. But here it doesn’t happen like that. Directly it can be sent to the central committee. The process is such that it doesn’t ask the consent of the local body. A system has to be put in place where the local body has to certify or atleast give a certificate of recommendation. So Mumbai District Chess Association is not even in the loop.”
Shah also went ahead and opened up on his preferred candidate, that according to him, should have got the award.
Adding further, he said, “There was a very strong deserving candidate called Raunak Sadhwani. I felt that he deserved it more. Raunak has won a number of tournaments. He is almost an international master. Not only in Maharashtra but he is a promising player in India as well. He was denied and I wonder how this happened.”
The entire chess fraternity has been taken aback by this decision made by the higher authorities and Bharat Sadhwani, Raunak’s father too felt that it wasn’t a good decision. When asked as whether he (Jaisal) deserved an award of this magnitude and importance or not, Bharat made things clear that although it’s unfortunate, they still weren’t the right ones to judge who should have got what.
“Obviously. What else do I need to say? See, first of all these things are not in our hands to study because it’s our child and we would always say that he deserved this award.” said Bharat.
If Jaisal truly deserves the award, then the above allegations would be proven wrong. But if things are truly not the way as they were represented to be, then it’s really disturbing and a probe needs to be conducted for the real story to unfold.