Along with success, the game in the country is courting controversies. Close on the heels of a 10-year ban slapped on Umakant Mishra for using unfair means of communication during games, a similar case has surfaced.
The player at the centre of this storm is Diwakar Prasad Singh whose meteoric rise has taken players by surprise. They think that the 30-year-old from Jharkhand is using some undetected device to communicate with someone during games to receive instructions. Top players have found something suspicious in his ascendancy, which had earned him a slot in the Indian team for the Chess Olympiad in Turin last year, and the Chess Player' Association of India (CPAI) has lodged a complaint against Singh with the All India Chess Federation (AICF).
The AICF has constituted a three-man investigation team headed by RM Dongre, one of its vice-presidents. Dongre said a report is expected in two-three months. “It's a very serious allegation and strict action will be taken if Singh is found guilty. We will speak to him and other players and also seek the help of computer specialists if needed,” Dongre added.
Singh, whose Elo rating jumped from mid-2200 in October 2004 to 2523 in the latest ranking list released on Monday, said his performance would do the talking. “It's an attempt to malign me by those who are jealous of my progress. I am ready to undergo every test they want me to. This must end if I come clean.”
Singh called back after HT tried in vain to contact him and said he endorsed the punishment handed to Umakant, his former practice partner. “Just that we are from the same state, it doesn't mean we all are using forbidden means. Why are they (the CPAI) trying to drag me into it?”
The CPAI president, GM Dibyendu Barua, said there were reasons to be suspicious about Singh's rise. “We have analysed about 20 of his games and in most cases his moves were exactly what the computer would suggest. The best of our players can do that in one or two moves out of 100. It was almost cent per cent in his case.”
Barua felt Singh was using some device to receive external inputs though he couldn't say what it was.