Shri E.G.Meherhomji with his family in 1999
Our faithful Secretary-cum-Treasurer Shri Eruch Godrej Meherhomji has been the backbone of the organisation since its inception. Shri Meherhomji, son of Godrej Eruchshaw Meherhomji was born on 18 March 1935. He is a qualified engineer: B.Sc. (Physics, Maths, Geology) AMIE (Mechanical, Institution of Engineers, Calcutta) and now retired from his position of Sr. Training Executive at Godrej Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. His wife Viloo is supportive of his AICCF activities. They were married on 11 November 1962. Their son, Shahrukh, born 11 Jan 1966 works as Sr. Computer Programmer and Systems Analyst at Blue Dart Courier Service. Here we see Shri Meherhomji with his grandson (b. 2 July 1997), his daughter-in-law Pouruchisti, and his wife Viloo. We asked Mr. Meherhomji to answer questions about his AICCF activities:
How do your family members cope with all the time you spend on AICCF activities?
Actually, my family members help me in my AICCF work. My wife Viloo helps me with the day to day correspondence: opening and sorting mail, maintaining inwards and outwards registers, sealing and affixing stamps (and keeping grandson out of mischief!). My son takes care of all the Xeroxing work while my daughter-in-law posts my mail at G.P.O., V.T.
But how do you manage time for CC activities?
Earlier I was staying at the Company’s Quarters near my place of work and I had plenty of time from 4:30PM to 1AM (8½ hours). I used to spend this time in my studies for the AMIE degree. When I completed the examination I used the time for study of chess as a hobby and later for AICCF work. Now, after my grandson goes to sleep at 10PM I devote 3 hours, upto 1AM for routine work of Secretary-cum-Treasurer of AICCF as well as CC games.
At what age did you learn to play chess?
When I was 25 and I joined service at M/s Godrej and Boyce Mfg. Pvt. Ltd. I was attracted towards the game. We used to play over-the-board from 6:30AM to 7AM before factory hours, at lunch (1 hour) and again after work (4PM to 5PM). A game would last for just 15-20 min. and it was enjoyable. Our Shri V.D.Pandit used to arrange Inter-Plant Tournaments annually through the Staff Club after office hours. Although I would be eliminated after 2 rounds, I liked watching the matches upto the Final.
When did you first become interested in Correspondence Chess?
Shri V.D.Pandit organised an Inter-Plant Correspondence Tournament, with moves transmitted by Inter- Departmental Central Mail of the company in 1983-84. That was my first experience with CC.
What made you take to CC organisation and how did you agree to become Secretary-cum-Treasurer of AICCF right from its inception?
This is linked with how AICCF was founded. Shri V.D.Pandit and Shri P.B.Bapat introduced Shri Nelson of CCAI. I joined CCAI on 22 November 1983. From Jan 1986 I could see a gradual decline; hardly any tournaments were being allotted. Slowly and steadily CC in India deteriorated and went into a coma in 1992. At this time many lovers of CC from Bombay and elsewhere, approached Shri Mulla, Dr. A.B.Surveyor, Shri V.D.Pandit and myself. We did try to write to the management of CCAI, but eventually Shri H.J.Samtani, Shri M.B.Mulla, Shri V.D.Pandit, Dr. A.B.Surveyor, Shri P.M.Dalvi and myself met at Mr. Mulla’s residence to explore the possibility of starting a new CC organisation. We would have to share the workload amongst us and hence I opted for the Secretary-cum-Treasurer’s post as I had plenty of time at my disposal and really wanted to ensure that AICCF grows and survives.
I had even proposed starting CC tournaments free of cost by placing an Ad. in Chess Mate but this was opposed by the others. Eventually after a lot of groundwork by Shri V.D.Pandit, Shri Mulla, Dr. Surveyor and Shri Dalvi, a leaflet was sent to as many CC friends as we knew. The response was very encouraging. Meanwhile, after several meetings the Constitution and Tournament Rules fell into place. The first AICCF Tournament of Type A (7001) and Type B (4001) were started on 20 Apr 1993 and 27 May 1993 respectively. I would like to express my appreciation of Shri V.D.Pandit. His untiring efforts at this stage got us the registration with the Charity Commissioner and the Registrar of Societies.
What, in your opinion, are the achievements of AICCF upto now?
- Registration (as mentioned above)
- A good Bulletin
- Affiliation with ICCF
- ICCF Ratings for some of our players
- Awareness among our members; prizes, prize-money and zeal for competition
- To have kept CC alive in India after the ‘coma’
What are the important goals for AICCF in the future?
- To increase the membership to 1000
- To bring awareness about CC to all parts of India
- Have at least 100 Indian names in the ICCF Rating List
- Get at least one ICCF GM and a few IM titles
- To host ICCF Congress in India
With all your CC organisational and T.D. work, are you still playing CC games?
I have only 2 games on hand now. I am at present reviewing the games I lost, the blunders and oversights, trying to find better moves in a given position. Maybe after a couple of months I will take up one International and 2 Domestic tournaments, but no more than 25 games at a time.