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Indian chess players face robbery in Sunway Sitges Apartments

by ChessBase India - 24/12/2023

GM Abhimanyu Puranik won 10th Chessable Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival 2023. He scored 8.5/10 and became a clear champion as he finished a half point ahead of the field. We will mention it in detail in another report. This article is about unfortunate incidents where few Indian players lost their valuables including a passport. We mention each player's statement and also what the organizer had to say about this. 

Unfortunate incidents at Sunway Sitges in Spain

During 10th Chessable Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival 2023, few Indian players suffered a nightmarish experience as they were robbed of their valuables, cash and a passport. Here are some of the statements mentioned by the players:

IM Dushyant Sharma

Dushyant Sharma is the first IM from Punjab

"On 19th December, someone broke in at my Sunway Apollo Apartment. My laptop, passport, 400 euros cash, bag and other items like jackets, chargers etc were stolen while my roommate’s laptop and airpods were gone. We got to know about this when we returned from our game at around 9 p.m. We went to Police station to lodge a complaint and complaint was lodged. Police was not serious and he mentioned the date of the incident wrong and many other details etc. On next day it was ratified on my request. No cameras were installed there as told by hotel authorities. I came to know that other burglaries also happened there. So organisers and hotel authorities should take cognizance to this and also give some compensation to victims and also pressurize the police authorities to solve the case."

 

FM Ashwani Tiwari shared his difficult experience in reply to Dushyant's tweet

GM Sankalp Gupta

Strong GM from Nagpur - Sankalp Gupta

"On 19th December there was a break in at my Sunway Apollo Apartment. My laptop, AirPods were stolen while my roommate’s laptop, passport (!), bag and other items. We got to know about this after we returned from our game at 9pm. Later on 22nd December, there was a similar break-in in my friend Mounika’s apartment at Sunway San Jorge. Later in the night, the worst so far- another break in at Sunway Arizona while my friends (Arpita and Vishwa) were sleeping! Their laptops, mobile phones were stolen. While reading the reviews I found out a robbery had happened just 2 months back in Apollo and a similar experience in Arizona as well. There are no cameras in the building and the door can be opened with a code. This is really bizarre that even after these incidents no security measures were added."

Joint statement by WIM Arpita Mukherjee and WFM Vishwa Shah

WIM Arpita Mukherjee is one of the strongest youngsters of West Bengal Chess

WFM Vishwa Shah hails from Mumbai

"During the night, between 2-6 a.m, a robbery occurred in our apartment. The perpetrators took Arpita's laptop and Vishwa's phone from the room where we were sleeping. Additionally, they moved our sling bags to the hall, emptied their contents and stole money from our bags. Upon waking up, we noticed an unusual smell in the room and observed that the balcony window was open. We had ensured before sleeping that all the doors and windows were closed. How can someone enter the room? This is so unsafe. We request authorities to take immediate and strict action against this incident. We sincerely hope more safety measures are provided in the future to avoid such scarring incidents. We would really appreciate if you could compensate for the losses incurred."

WIM Mounika Akshaya

WIM Mounika Akshaya

"On December 22, which was the last day of the Sunway Sitges Chess Festival 2023 in Spain, me and my friends went for a walk in the evening around 5:30p.m. for 40–45 minutes. One of our roommates is sleeping in one of the rooms at the apartment itself. By the time we came back to the room, I noticed that my laptop, worth Rs 12,000 cash, and silver ornaments were stolen. Initially, I thought my whole purse was stolen, but then we saw my purse, passports, and other things in it lying on the floor on our balcony. Immediately after the incident, we went to the police station to file a complaint. Even though they took our statements and filed a report, they directly said on our faces that these things happen to tourists and they can’t do anything. It’s scary to see that this is happening at such a prestigious event and in its official apartments. And also, it’s surprising to notice that there are no surveillance cameras installed in any of the official apartments. It’s even scary to think that if my roommate woke up due to noises, they might have attacked him as well. Later, we got to know from the Google reviews that many robberies happened in the Sunway Apartments earlier. Hence, I kindly request the organizers/Sunway Apartments to give some compensation for the loss of things and money to all the victims since it’s their negligence as well for not taking any care even after many robberies happened earlier in the same apartments. I hope severe action will be taken; otherwise, I think it will be tough for many players to take part in future events at Sitges."

6 youngsters and sleepless night

Aditya Golatkar wrote to us, " The picture I am sending was taken at 4 a.m. on 24th of December 2023. We all were staying in 3 different apartments, but because of the robbery incidents we had to come together and stay in one apartment. We are unable to sleep from the fear that someone will come and rob us. We have put the table across the door so that the robbers cannot open it. All other players left the apartments in booked rooms in the hotel, but we were unable to do so as there was no availability and hence we are sitting in one room together. This we will have to do for another day." 

From left to right: IM Utsab Chatterjee, Gyaneshwar B, Anirudhha Potawad, Mandar Lad, Akshay Ramadugu, Aditya Golatkar

The table was used to stop the thieves from entering the room and in order to keep themselves awake the youngsters played chess.

IM Sidhant Mohapatra shared one of the recent reviews on Google where a similar incident had happened to someone else 5 months ago.

 

Official statement regarding isolated incidents during the Chessable Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival 2023 Sitges on December 24th , 2023

Dear chess friends,

We feel we have to address you today regarding the regrettable incidents that transpired during our recent chess tournament. We are saddened to have learnt that some of our participants apparently fell victim to theft while deeply engaged in the spirit of competition. We were told that there were some robberies in 3 apartments located within gated properties approximately 1.5 km. away from the official hotel, all 3 having been rented by Indian players who were taking part in our event. Some laptops and cell phones were reported missing.

 

First and foremost, we would like to express our profound empathy and concern for those players who were affected by these incidents, as we told them as soon as we knew. We understand the emotional and personal toll that such incidents can have, and we want to assure you that the safety and well-being of our participants are our highest priorities.

 

Upon learning about the incidents, our dedicate staff took immediate action to assist the affected players. Our manager accompanied them to local authorities to report the incidents to the police. Although there are no signs of forced entry, and it is speculated that an unfortunate oversight in locking doors or windows may have been a contributing factor, we appreciate the ongoing efforts of the police to investigate and identify the perpetrators, and to try to recover what was taken from players. Needless to say that we all understand how difficult this may sometimes be... In a separate case where a player's passport was missing, we assisted in contacting the consulate and ensuring they obtained a temporary document for travel. Emphasizing the paramount importance of safety and security, we are actively reviewing and enhancing our security measures. In fact, after the closing ceremony a security guard was promptly hired, precisely to reinforce the sense of security in the apartments’ complexes that night, after learning from the previous 2 incidents. Moreover, our staff conducted thorough checks that no other players would leave windows open or doors unlocked while leaving their apartments (which is something we always remind guests during their check-in process, and which is written in the documents we provide them with). No suspicious behavior was reported. Besides this, surveillance cameras were in place, covering the area where the third robbery reportedly occurred, capturing only players engaged in post-tournament gatherings, relaxedly going from one apartment to another in that complex (possibly to celebrate the end of the tournament having dinner or drinks together). Unfortunately, despite these precautions, the third case was reported that night, and again no signs of forced entry were found.

 

Some fellow players of the affected ones, understandably unsettled by these incidents, expressed their desire to move to the official hotel. In response, and since the tournament had concluded with many players having already departed, we facilitated their relocation without imposing any charges. Our commitment is to continue assisting them to the best of our ability.

 

As we reflect on our 10th-anniversary celebration, this marks the first occurrence of such an unfortunate incident in all our editions. We are unwavering in our dedication to taking every necessary step to ensure that our future events uphold a safe and enjoyable environment for all, as has been the case until these isolated incidents.

 

Once again, our sympathies go out to those affected by these regrettable events. In the spirit of community and support, we encourage participants to reach out to us with any concerns. We deeply regret that, after our collective great and continuous effort to host an enjoyable chess event for players and companions, a few players will not carry home positive memories due to circumstances beyond our control and responsibility.

- Sincerely, Your Organization Team Chessable Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival

 

This is a developing article. More statements of the players and other information may be added if and when required.


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