More excuses than moves made as clock keeps ticking
Once a vibrant sport in the country, chess had apparently lost its charm since 2010 due to a dearth of organisers. It, however, returned to the fore in the last few years even though the country's wait for its sixth grandmaster seems to be never-ending. To know about the latest initiatives to be taken by the Bangladesh Chess Federation (BCF), their limitations and the latent life of chess in the country, The Daily Star's Anisur Rahman spoke with BCF general secretary Syed Shahab Uddin. The excerpts of the interview are as follows:
The Daily Star (DS): What changes have you made since becoming general secretary in 2016?
Syed Shahab Uddin (SSU): First of all, the federation hosted three big tournaments in 2019 for the first time. I also started working with all age-group teams and have sent them to play international tournaments, something which has not happened in the past. We are now regularly getting the opportunity to play the World Cup after producing good results in zonal meets.
DS: Would you mention the goals of the Bangladesh Chess Federation?
SSU: Our goal is simple. It is to make chess popular among the people by spreading the game across the country.
DS: The school chess tournament has not taken place for over a decade. Any plan to revive it?
SSU: The school chess tournament was, perhaps, last held in 2012. We could not arrange it due to financial constraints with no sponsors showing interest. We expect to resume the school tournament from the start of the next Bengali New Year.
DS: Since the last United Insurance and Leasing GM tournament in 2009, the federation took 12 years to organise another GM tournament. What were the obstacles?
SSU: Despite our interest, we could not organise the grandmaster tournaments due to financial constraints. However, we have organised a few big tournaments like Asian Zonal Chess Championships (Open and Women) and the 1st SAARC Chess Championships (Open & Women) in recent years.
DS: Bangladesh could not produce any grandmasters in the last 14 years whereas India produces GMs regularly. What's your take on that?
SSU: During our tenure, Fahad Rahman and Shirin Sultana became IM [International Master] and WIM [Woman International Master] which, I think, is an achievement. But they could not participate in any tournament in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have also not held any international tournaments or sent them aboard, so it was not possible for them to achieve GM or IM titles from the online chess tournaments.