History and journey of Bihar Chess
By — Arvind Kumar. Sinha, FIDE Master
Secretary, All Bihar Chess Association
All Bihar Chess Association was established with its erstwhile name ‘BIHAR CHESS ASSOCIATION’ on 30 September 1968. BCA was registered under Bihar Societies Act 1960 bearing Registration No. 60 of 1968-69. It got affiliation from ALL INDIA CHESS FEDERATION in 1969.The AICF is the apex body for chess in the country which is affiliated with Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE)/ or World Chess Federation.
“It was sometimes in 1967-1968, when Prof. Shiv Shankar Prasad Verma, a lecturer of Engineering College, Patna (NIT, Patna) as also a chess lover took initiative towards forming a state level chess body in Bihar. He spoke to some of his fellow correspondence chess players in All India Chess Federation including Bihar players. Having obtained the ‘Go-ahead’ signal from AICF officials, ‘Bihar Chess Association’ was formally established at his Boring Road residence (presently Verma Complex). Mrityunjay Prasad, the then LIC Divisional Manager, Patna (son of Dr Rajendra Prasad, President of India) and Dr A S Mehta (Patna Science College) were elected as its first President and Secretary respectively. Since, some of the other known local chess enthusiasts like A R Khan, Dr P.N.Sharma etc. could not attend that particular meeting, their names are not found on record in the list of founder members available with Registration Department, Govt. of Bihar. Incidentally, with passage of time, ‘Bihar Chess Association’ became increasingly known as ‘Bihar State Chess Association’.
Soon after its establishment a state chess championship was organized in LIC Patna office. Uma Shankar Prasad of LIC won the championship amidst many known stalwarts like late B K Srivastava and Sheonath Prasad, Some known names of that period to reckon with were Ved Prakash, R P Singh, Maheshwar Mishra, Kalimuddin Ahmed, Muhammad Mustafa, Prabhu Narayan Lal etc.. A couple of months after the championship as also after AICF affiliation was obtained in 1969, a fresh State Championship was, conducted in the able guidance of Iqbal Krishna, a renowned chess columnist of India and a Delhi based reputed chess player. The first Bihar six-member Chess team led by the winner Sheonath Prasad participated in the National B Chess Championship 1969 held at Bangalore. That is why Sheonath Prasad of P&T is regarded as the first official Bihar Champion. His fellow colleague B K Srivastava of P&T soon established himself as the strongest chess player by winning Bihar Champion for five times during his more than a decade long chess career. Undoubtedly he was, as he got 10th position in the National B Chess Championship held at Shimla in 1972.
However, it is a myth that Chess tournaments were not organized in Bihar prior to establishment of Bihar Chess Association. AR Khan of Crescent Club, Patna used to organize chess tournaments regularly and so was the case with Muzaffarpur, Ranchi, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga and other districts of undivided Bihar. Chess tournaments were organized by local chess enthusiasts since the time unknown. But the games were played in ‘Deshi’ form in which playing rules slightly varied from place to place!
It is a fact that Chess, in its present form came into regular practice after formation of Bihar Chess Association. Even then ‘Deshi style’ addicted people were many. Incidentally, I recall here that one ‘Darbari ji’, a chess player from north Bihar, was believed to be a strong player of his time in Deshi Style of the game. The reason was, his ability to play chess ‘blind-folded’. However, now-a-days almost every chess player of state level has the ability to play, analyze games ‘blind-folded’. In short, there was no dearth of locally famous chess players in almost every part of Bihar irrespective of the fact that most of them, despite having potential, either could not perform so well in state level official championships or did not play the State championships whatever the reason may be. Probably, the new rules of chess had its detrimental effect on their performance. Ganga Prasad Suman of Saharsa at time posted at Dalmiyannagar, R K Deo, are a few names to recall of olden days.
The year 1975 came as a turning point for Bihar chess when the National B Championship and National A Chess Championships were conducted at Bihar College of Engineering and Patna College Common Room. This brought Bihar chess on the national chess map. The championship was organized under the stewardship of Dr PN Sharma, MLC and Dr K K Jamuar as BSCA President and Secretary respectively. The viewers of that time witnessed Raja Ravisekhar of Tamil Nadu who won both the National B and the National A title, The talents of Rafique Khan (MP) & DV Prasad (Karnataka), were discovered to Indian Chess, Mark W Nelson and R B Sapre (ex National Champion) were the Tournament Directors of the respective events. Chess popularity graph in Bihar probably reached the highest point. Incidentally at this point, I may mention here, although it might look surprising for many that Raja Ravisekher whose father was posted that time in Jamshedpur represented Bihar in National Junior Championship in1972 on recommendation of Bihar’s Secretary he had approached for.
In 1978, for the first time, an All India Open Chess tournament was organized in Bihar under the banner of Magadh Chess Club whose Secretary, Rupendra Narayan Sinha. RN Sinha was among official founder members of Bihar Chess Association.
Bihar chess also sustained a setback on 3rd April 1983 when the two factions of Bihar State Chess Association split and held their elections separately. The matter even went to the Hon’ble High Court which ruled in favour of the faction led by Dr. P. N. Sharma & Rupendra Narayan Sinha because they submitted documents relating to the election of their faction to the Registration Department and had obtained its certified copy. But the AICF had in the meantime recognized the other faction led by Prabhakar Jha and Premendra Kumar. In view of High Court judgment against the AICF recognized faction, it resolved to change its erstwhile name from ‘Bihar State Chess Association (BSCA) to All Bihar Chess Association on 26th January 1986. In 1985 Muzaffarpur Disrict was brought into existence by Rajiv Kumar Sinha, a local chess enthusiast from Muzaffarpur. By his efforts several All India Rating tournaments including National Under-25 and National A was conducted at Muzaffarpur.
ABCA organised National Under-25 Chess Championship in 1988 under the leadership of Dr Amaranth Singh and Prabhakar Jha (both from PU) who were ABCA President and Secretary respectively. Later, as it appeared, they lost their interest to continue in Bihar Chess and paved way for AR Khan in 1991. AICF did not accept this change of power though it continued allowing players from Bihar in the National events.
In 1992, National A Championship was again organized in Patna (Bihar) but in a typical way. AICF Secretary PT Ummer Koya allotted this championship to Bihar appointing Navin Kumar Upadhyay, a chess player and a journalist. The championship was successfully organized under the leadership of Tripurari Sharan,IAS, However, PT Ummer Koya discreetly recognized A R Khan and ensured Bihar’s vote in the 1993 AICF election he won. Once again around 1996, all most all leading chess players stood united and revolted against A R Khan to the extent of holding a parallel state championship, but that proved futile in the light of the fact PT Ummer Koya continued supporting A R Khan uptill he himself was ousted from Indian Chess in 2005.
It has been a praiseworthy feature of Bihar Chess that it withstood splits on two occasions, but did not allow the game to suffer.
The tale of success of Bihar Chess continued. Small chess units like academies/club also contributed in holding national/All India level events for Bihar chess. All India Rating tournament under the banner of NLM Chess Academy, was conducted in Patna in 2001 by the sole efforts of Vijayesh Nandkeuliar, a reasonably good chess player. Chess Track, a chess club run by Dharmendra Kumar, an International Chess Arbiter with help & support of Anil Sulabh, a renowned social activists, organised National Under-25 Championship in 2003 at Patna. In recent years, Gayatri Devi Memorial All India FIDE rating tournament was organized by MDCA in 2011 in 2011 under the stewardship of its present office-holders GK Mallick and Sanjay Kumar Srivastava. The tournament was held in the memory of mother of Sanjeev Kumar. Sanjeev Kumar has been one of the strongest chess players of Bihar. In 2013 also, by the daring efforts of Abhash Kumar, Muzaffarpur Chess Club held an All India FIDE Rating Chess tournament. In 2014 too, Lord Buddha FIDE Rating Chess was successfully organized in Gaya by the efforts of Santosh Kumar and Jay Prakash Sinha.
Studded with four National champions at junior level, PK Singh-U19, Dolan Champa Bose-U-14 (Jharkhand), Manishi Krishna-U-19, Rahul Sangma-U-10, Malviika Singh-U10(Jharkhand) Deep Sengupta-U10 (Jharkhand) and Saurabh Anand –U-9 in the past and a pool of over two dozen young prodigies at present, Bihar Chess is now marching ahead with distinct goals. Gradually, ABCA has been ableto have its Bye Laws, Financial Regulations, introduction of a systematic financial system, a PAN No, filing of Annual Return, a Website, a Training Centre allotted by Government of Bihar, patronage of powerful social elites and generous sponsors. Besides fulfilling its other obligations, ABCA has also organized an IM Coaching (V Koshy) in 2010 and a GM Coaching (PM Thipsay) in 2013.
Introduction of chess in schools syllabus, searching sponsors for its talented chess players, strengthening and increasing number of active district units, enhancing their capacity to hold big events may be its future goals but what Bihar chess needs most at present is, conduction of a series of All India Open tournaments in different parts of Bihar and a National championship every year. Keeping this goal at fore, 25th National Under-17 Boys & Girls Chess Championship 2014 is being organized adding one more feather to its cap.