Pune’s Woman Grandmaster Soumya Swaminathan received a setback when she learnt of her being stripped off the individual bronze medal won in the World Women’s Team Championship in Turkey last week.
The development came to light, when one of the chess followers from the city enquired about Soumya’s performance in the tournament by writing an email to tournament’s chief arbiter IA Erdem Ucarkus.
In reply, the arbiter clarified that initially Soumya was given the medal and the prize money, however, after some players protested against the decision, the appeal committee members decided to award the medal to another player.
On the official website of the tournament, it has been published that Russia’s Gunina Valentina has been awarded with the medal, instead of Soumya.
In his mail, Ucarkus said, “I made my interpretations and I announced every detail on the website and on the notice boards after every round during the championship and nobody objected then. But, after the closing ceremony some objections were put up about individual board prizes.
“Therefore, FIDE deputy presidents, appeals committee members and I, held a meeting. As a result, we decided that the other player had a valid point and we announced it. However, the organising committee stated that they won’t be taking back the prize money from Soumya. But, of course this is not valid for the medals. As a summary, Soumya got the prize, but she didn’t get the medal.”
Pune District Chess Association’s general secretary Joseph D’souza said, “When we came to know about such a mail, our committee members verified it with the chief arbiter and found it as an unfortunate incident.”
However, when DNA informed Soumya about the issue, the WGM said she was completely unaware of the situation.
“I don’t know anything about the issue. I wasn’t told by the Turkey Chess Federation or by the organising committee about the changes. If I had been told that the medal was awarded to me by mistake, I would have returned it without hesitation.
“Even if they had contacted me in India, I wouldn’t have had any problem in giving back the medal. But getting the news this way is humiliating,” she added.
Even All India Chess Federation (AICF) vice president Sekhar Chandra Sahu supported Soumya.
“I was with the team as manager and I closely followed the process. Though there were some protests regarding the individual medals, I personally checked with the arbiters and was assured that Soumya has won the medal. If the chief arbiter is saying that medal won’t be counted valid, then they should have informed us. I am presenting all this matter to federation and now they will take the decision,” he said.