Grandmasters who are consistent losers must be stripped of title

Top-seeded Sasikaran at the bottom in Corus tournament

Sasikaran, India’s best chess hope after V Anand, had a disastrous showing in the just-concluded Corus tournament in the Netherlands. He was seeded number 1 at the event, but lost seven of the 13 rounds and just about saved himself the ignominy of finishing last. I cannot remember a top-seeded player putting in such a poor performance in any chess tournament.

It has happened in tennis tournaments with the number-one-ranked player occasionally getting kicked out in the first round. But that is not tantamount to finishing last. A bad day at the tennis court for the champion and a solid day for an underdog can tilt the scales.

But a champion being a consistent loser and finishing almost last in a chess tournament is something unthinkable. So, now Sasikaran has that dubious honour.

Substandard fare: I think if a player dishes out substandard fare, he must be stripped of his grandmaster title. “Once a grandmaster, always a grandmaster” is not something I agree with. If someone does not live up to his ranking, he has to be subjected to some checks and balances so that he does not continue to carry the title of grandmaster.

I am not just talking about Sasikaran, there are many grandmasters who consistently perform worse than international masters.  

This must be a point to ponder for the chess federation (FIDE)! They do have the ELO rating system under which players lose or gain points based on their performances in tournaments. But FIDE must take it one step further and have an expiry period for the grandmaster title. – losers cannot hang on to it for life! At best, they can be known as former grandmasters!

— G Joslin Vethakumar


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