Sports dept checkmates Karnataka's first grandmaster

Sports dept checkmates Karnataka's first grandmaster

M S Thejkumar

Two years after becoming the first chess grandmaster from Karnataka, M S Thejkumar is yet to get his due - a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh announced by the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES).

In Oct 2017, then sports minister Pramod Madhwaraj, during the inauguration of Dasara sports meet, had announced the cash prize of Rs 10 lakh for the city-based M S Thejkumar. But the announcement has remained just that.

Thejkumar, the 50th grandmaster of India, poured out his woes to DH, "I am tired of making trips to the DYES office for the cash prize. My father, also the secretary of Mysore District Chess Association, has met the DYES officers in this regard. The officers concerned are not providing any information whatsoever. This is not the way to treat someone who has made the state and the country proud."

"In order to attain the GM norm, I have spent Rs 20 lakh for training and taking part in the FIDE tournaments. My parents availed loans to nurture and shape my career. But the DYES has failed to come to our rescue," the 36-year-old Thejkumar rued.

Chess players in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu received government patronage. But that's not the case with Karnataka, a highly rated player who called shots in the competitive circuit for over a decade, said.

Son of Shivaramegowda and Lakshmi, Thejkumar picked up the basics of the sport from his father, who is now an office-bearer of MDCA, at a tender age. He graduated from the inter-school and college competitions to FIDE tournaments. After attaining three IM norms, he notched up 2,600 ELO points to attain GM norm in Sept 2017.

MDCA office-bearers told DH, "Chess players are dependent on the cash prizes offered by the tournaments and the government agencies and corporates. They need lakhs of rupees to play in overseas tournaments for fetch ELO points. Also, they spend a lot of money on training and coaches. There is no government patronage for the sport. Hence, many promising youngsters are quitting the sport."