They changed the format thrice in four years. To top it off, the current format includes as many as 30 players qualifying for the National 'A' tournament. In a new development, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) on Monday, decided to revert the National 'A' championship to a 13-round Swiss format. This effectively means that 53 players will vie for the top honours in men's National 'A' and about 40 in the National Women's 'A'.
The AICF introduced the Swiss format for National A in 2006 to provide more players a chance to participate. The players too accepted the change, as with the increase in the number of strong players in the country, all could not be accommodated in the round-robin format, which would have been too lengthy and difficult to finance.
But in 2007 the AICF changed the format after the National A at Chennai was postponed when the players refused to play because of poor accommodation.
In 2008, the AICF decided to move back to the old round-robin format to restrict the number of players and make it more manageable. It was their way to avoid controversies over accommodation too.
As a result, the National 'A' became a 14-player event with eleven players qualifying from the National 'B' and three players seeded from the National A. The National Women 'A' was changed to a 12-player event with nine players qualifying from the National Women 'B', thereby forcing all the GMs to fight it out in the 2008 National 'B' held in Goa. The GMs were assured of a direct entry in the Swiss League format.
However, representative of the two bodies met at Mumbai in April and agreed to revert to the Swiss format. The AICF also had its way and introduced a clause that the organisers were not bound to provide accommodation to the players.
"We wanted more players and they too wanted a change,” RM Dongre, AICF vice-president, said.