November 8, 2008

Pakistan’s national champion to miss Chess Olympiad


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The reigning national champion as well as an International Master, Mahmood Ahmed Lodhi, will not be taking part in the 38th Chess Olympiad, to be held in Dresden, Germany, from November 12 to 25.

Mahmood Lodhi, the country’s most prolific chess player having won the national championship 11 times, did not offer himself for selection in the squad in rather mysterious circumstances.

Although he has decided to skip the upcoming Olympiad having cited personal reasons but according to the sources close to him, he has had reservations with the policies of the Chess Federation of Pakistan (CFP).

The Gujranwala-based Mahmood Lodhi has had problems with the CFP officials over the years. But it’s certainly not in the national interest to omit the best player of the country for an event as important as the Olympiad.

The functionaries of the CFP could have handled the matter professionally rather than emotionally and they should have persuaded the reigning national champion to proceed to Dresden where a record number of 152 countries will be locking horns.
Meanwhile the media briefing of the Sindh Chess Association (SCA) at the Karachi Club on November 6 meant to introduce the members of the national men and women squad for turned sour on more than one count.

The fiery speech of one of the officials, Mohammad Wasif, in which he openly ridiculed the policies of the CFP caught the media by surprise because the SCA was itself one of the affiliated units of the federation.

The men squad comprises of National Masters Wahid Hussain (Hyderabad), Aamir Karim (Lahore), Mohammad Waqar (Karachi), Khalil-ur-Rahman Butt (Lahore) and Hasib Ahmed (Karachi). All the five members of the women team, Zenobia Wasif, Nida Shiraz, Sharjeela Kiran, Arsalana Tanvir and Sabica Shiraz, belong to Karachi.

The SCA office-bearers could not give a convincing answer when questioned if the provincial body was sending the national men and women squad for the 38th Chess Olympiad on behalf of the federation.

It was revealed that the SCA, after having failed to get any kind of assistance from the CFP, had approached various government and private organizations for financial support by means of sponsorship.

We have been assured financial support from the Government of Sindh, the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) as well as a few commercial establishments. Their support will enable us to cover a part of the costs to be incurred in sending the men and women squads for the Olympiad,” Mohammad Aslam, President, SCA, stated.

He did not disclose the amount they were expected to raise for this event through sponsorship. Neither did he deem it proper to reveal the total amount needed to send the squads to Germany. When asked specifically, he said around Rupees one lac would be needed for each participant.

Aslam, who is also the Vice President of the CFP, clarified that the SCA had differences with the federation only in the matter pertaining to the women squad while all was well as far as the selection of the men team was concerned.

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