Twenty-year-old chess International Master (IM) Dushyant Sharma is in distress. For this young lad in Jalandhar had lost his laptop in which he had stored several years of opening analysis in a burglary in Spain while playing in the Sunway Sitges Chess Tournament recently.
That apart, the Spanish burglars also took away his passport, 400 euros, costly jackets, laptop bag and others.
Not only Dushyant, several other Indian players have lost their laptops, money and other costly items in three separate incidents that happened in nearly successive days.
Thieves spare passports of other players
Fortunately for them, the burglars had left their passports while Dushyant was unlucky on that count.
“Since I had lost my passport, I am not in a position to play in other chess tournaments in Europe. I have to get a passport and apply for a visa afresh,” Dushyant told IANS.
“The laptop itself costs about Rs 2 lakh and the laptop bag about Rs 3,000. His jackets cost about Rs 10,000 each. In addition, he has lost cash of 400 euros and other items,” Divya Sharma said.
Years of hard work stolen
According to him, passport, visa and other things that were lost in the burglary can be obtained but the 10 year hard work of analysis of various chess openings is lost forever.
“While some things can be bought, the analysis of chess moves cannot be purchased as it is my own labour. I don’t have any backup,” Dushyant said.
The same may hold true for many other Indian players who have lost their laptops and other valuables.
The Sunway Sitges Chess Tournament sponsored by Sunway Hotel group, Spain is an annual fixture in many chess player’s schedule.
This year about 70 Indian players participated in the event, said Dushyant.
Theft at official team hotel
According to him, the apartment where the burglary happened belonged to Sunway Hotel and was the officially approved staying place for the players.
“After finishing the seventh round on December 19, 2023 evening, Grandmaster (GM) Sankalp, my roommate and I returned to our room. On entering, I saw my laptop which was kept on the table missing. I also found cash, jackets and passport other items missing,” Dushyant said.
Sankalp had lost his laptop, charger and airpods. Immediately they called the hotel authorities who in turn took them to the police station. At the police station, there was a language barrier as the policemen didn’t know English while the Indian players didn’t know Spanish.
Somehow, the first information report (FIR) was registered in Spanish.
Mistakes in FIR
“Later when the FIR was translated we found the date of burglary and other aspects were wrongly mentioned. We had to go to the police station to get it corrected,” Dushyant said.
The FIR had to be translated for getting duplicate travel papers from the Indian Embassy.
According to Dushyant, the room and the balcony doors were closed while going out to play and it is not known how the burglars gained entry into the room without breaking the locks.
No sign of forced entry
“There were no signs of forcible entry into our room,” Dushyant said.
On hearing about the robbery, other Indian players turned doubly cautious. They saw that the doors – room door and the balcony doors were locked securely- before going out or going to bed.
Second theft occurs despite taking all precautions
Nevertheless, burglary took place in two other rooms where Woman GM Srija Seshadri, Woman IMs Mounika Akshaya and Arpita Mukherjee and Woman FIDE Master Vishwa Shah were staying.
The second burglary took place on December 22 at Sunway San Jorge when the players had gone for a walk and the third one happened at Sunway Arizona Apartment the next day when a couple of players were sleeping in their rooms.
“On hearing the successive burglaries, many Indian players as a precautionary measure decided to shift to hotels in Barcelona,” Dushyant said.
Frequent thefts at Sunway hotels
According to him, this was not the first time such a burglary has happened at Sunway Hotel properties.
“On searching the internet we found earlier too burglaries have happened in the apartments where we had stayed,” Dushyant remarked.
Adding salt to the wound, the hotel authorities/tournament organisers had indirectly said that it could be the Indian players themselves who could have stolen the properties, Dushyant said.
However the rooms of other players were not searched. The tournament in question is an authorised one by the International Chess Federation or FIDE.
No statement from FIDE yet
However, the FIDE hasn’t come out with any statement with regard to the burglary that had happened in the official accommodation for the players in the European country Spain.
On the other hand FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich, had issued an apology to 11 players for the errors of local organisers regarding the Women's Grand Prix tournament in India.
The Women’s Grand Prix tournament was held in Delhi in March-April 2023.