A statement by Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Armenian Chess Federation

by ChessBase
9/7/2020 – During the final of the FIDE Online Olympiad between Russia and India, the internet connection was not always stable, which affected the outcome of some games. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich intervened in a solomonic way and declared both teams, Russia and India, as winners of the event. At the semi-final between India and Armenia there had been similar problems but the verdict had been different, and Armenia withdrew under protest. In an open letter to FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Armenian Chess Federation, addresses the issue.

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In one game of the semi-final of the FIDE Online Olympiad between India and Armenia, the Internet connection broke down and as a result the Armenian player lost on time. The tournament organizers came to the conclusion that the Internet connection of the Armenian had not been working properly and declared the game won for the Indian player.

The Armenian team then withdrew from the tournament in protest. But in the final between Russia and India, connections again were not stable and broke off occasionally. Now FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich intervened and in a Solomonic verdict he declared both teams, Russia and India, as winners.

The Russian team was somewhat dissatisfied with this verdict, because they felt that they could have won the final. The Armenian team was very dissatisfied and the issue led to heated discussions on social media.

With a statement Serzh Sargsyan, the President of the Armenian Chess Federation, once again explained the Armenian position and tried to calm the waves.

It is now known that the cause of the broken Internet connection was probably a major server failure in an Internet node, which severely affected global Internet traffic (see ZDNet article, below).

Cheating is a big problem in online tournaments but the problem of a possible disconnect also remains unsolved. After all, the players usually do not cause the disconnections, but they are held responsible for them. Often the cause of a disconnection is complex and cannot be determined as quickly as is necessary. Unfortunately, the Internet is not (yet) as technically advanced as it should be for a problem-free execution of official tournaments.

Open letter by Serzh Sargsyan

To: FIDE PRESIDENT
MR. ARKADY DVORKOVICH

Dear Mr. Dvorkovich,

On behalf of the Armenian Chess Federation, I express my gratitude to FIDE and to you personally for organizing the inaugural Online Chess Olympiad amid the ongoing pandemic situation.

Strong with 190 member nations and in its capacity of the most important chess authority in the world, the International Chess Federation is vested with great responsibility in terms of developing and disseminating chess across the globe. The Online Olympiad was an attempt to bolster international chess activities and offer another chess festival to chess fans and chess players around the world.

In an effort to turn the tournament into reality, FIDE and its partners exerted a lot of effort and dedication. The Armenian Chess Federation appreciates FIDE’s and your personal contribution to the tournament.

I should note with much regret that perhaps due to some rush and insufficient assessment of key organizational issues, a number of problems occurred during the tournament, mostly because of regulatory shortfalls, which obviously could have been foreseen despite the fact that the tournament was being held for the first time.

The situations that emerged in the quarterfinal Armenia – India match and in final Russia – India match, as well as several problems in the group stage were due to said regulatory shortfalls. The problems faced in the group stage were not deeply analyzed and taken into consideration.

In this regard, I express my deep concern and anxiety over FIDE’s latest decisions. Even a minor manifestation of injustice causes confrontation among chess community and chess players. This was the reason behind our team’s decision not to play a second match against India. The discontent of players escalated after FIDE made an opposing decision in the same situation.

The Armenian team suffered from a deplorable use of double standards. As a matter of fact, FIDE failed to abide by its own decision, which constituted a precedent. FIDE did not deeply evaluate the Armenian Chess Federation’s statement that the Internet had not been interrupted on the Armenian side and we obviously had faced a force majeure situation.

I regret some FIDE officials’ behavior in social media: they interpreted the situation in an incomplete and distorted way, which was immediately followed by our chess players’ response. I think that players should have expressed their opinion in an appropriate manner, without emotional formulations, but I also believe that FIDE should be twice as much refined and cautious in addressing chess players and refrain from humiliating their dignity.

Desirous to preserve the positive atmosphere in the big chess family, I hope that in the future FIDE will act according to its “GENS UNA SUMUS” motto, where one’s failures, defeats and troubles are the failures, defeats and troubles of everyone.

Respectfully,

SERZH SARGSYAN
PRESIDENT OF THE ARMENIAN CHESS FEDERATION

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Astuteness Astuteness 9/12/2020 12:47
Nagesh Havanur,
It should should also be mentioned (I forgot to in the previous comment) that the honourable Supreme Court of India has given a clean chit to the PM Cares Fund. Here is an unbiased article:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/money-from-pm-cares-fund-cant-be-transferred-to-national-disaster-response-fund-says-supreme-court-2281156

So learn to be sensible in life!
Astuteness Astuteness 9/11/2020 07:20
chessbibliophile,

We know you are Nagesh Havanur who writes the CBM reviews. When you are not even a FIDE rated player, how dare you throw vile and politically motivated comments against Indian Chess Players? When you have zero qualifications as a player, you have no right to even question what legends like Vishy Anand do with their money or their time. Learn to mind your own business and don't drag politics into every single domain. The world doesn't have jaundiced eyes like you do.

To refute the following illogical statement - "He has also contributed to PM Cares Fund and encouraged others to do so without ever asking serious questions on its transparency and accountability.Could he and his supporters enlighten the public on how that fund is being spent?"

Here is an article that completely biased and propogandist views of Mr.Havanur, who seems to be living in the stone age: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/supreme-court-petition-pm-cares-fund-transfer-national-disaster-relief-fund-jp-nadda-6560348/

You are either being paid for your biased comments or you are a recluse. This is 2020. People grow wiser with age, hope you do so too.
Scorpion29 Scorpion29 9/10/2020 05:47
Chessbibliophile,
Unfortunately, I have neither the time or the patience to argue with what is apparently a bitter person who wants to fault each and everything about the world.

Chess before Anand did exist, but it was his successes that inspired generations of players. The people you quote are not of the same caliber as Anand is. They are fine players in their own right, but Anand brought the world crown to India.

You personally attack a person who is far more accomplished than you seem to be. Who has done more for this country than you might ever do. So don't be jealous!

Why are you bringing politics into chess? Propaganda? You are ignorant of the true nature of happenings. It's not the stone age. People will donate and ask others to do so if they want. You have the right to question, but you can't impose your will on others. It shows your inflexibility.

I am done trying to correct you. You have your opinion and that can be respected. But do not start barking about a player who inspired a whole country, when you hide behind a pseudonym and unnecessarily criticize a man whose achievements you will never equal, let alone surpass. Good day.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/10/2020 11:13
Time and again I and other readers here have expressed our appreciation of the play by the Indian players (irrespective of the result) in this Online Olympiad.
That’s the greater reason for our dismay at the decisions not allowing them to show their real level with other rivals, Armenia and Russia.
The reader here has insinuated about “insecurity and lack of understanding” by critics. Insecurity about what? About whom?
Just a moment, let us leave critics alone. Were Aronian and Nepomniachtchi insecure about complaining on the result? Have they not played in olympiads before? Give us a break.
Lack of understanding about what? Young players should read more about the great tradition of chess olympiads and how battles are won and lost.
Commercial publicity with a comedian in hand will not promote the cause of chess in India. It’s only hard work in the background that does it in the end.
Once the pandemic is over and real olympiads commence, few would remember this virtual olympiad and its joint victors If it’s remembered it would be for blackouts, dubious decisions and controversy.
Is that what the players deserved, be it from India, Armenia or Russia?
The young Indian player commenting here has allowed his vision to be blinkered by propaganda. He can see things clearly if he takes off those blinkers. I cannot spend precious time on doing it for him.
As he loves to have the last word, he can go ahead and post more comment. I am afraid, only he and his friends would be reading it. No one else.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/10/2020 11:09
Let no one go about sermonizing here on Anand. His public work for Chennai flood relief is readily acknowledged. His chess success has also motivated other young talents.
But if India has become a chess superpower it is not because of him alone, but also on account of dedicated coaches like R.B. Ramesh.
Now let me mention the negative issues that no one speaks about. Anand has never spoken out when injustice has been done to players like Koneru Humpy by FIDE or AICF. Even when he was world champion.
Recently he has also misled the public by lauding the Government of India for its
“ excellent relief work” in spite of the disaster that it brought and the misery it inflicted on millions of migrant workers.
He has also contributed to PM Cares Fund and encouraged others to do so without ever asking serious questions on its transparency and accountability.
Could he and his supporters enlighten the public on how that fund is being spent?
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/10/2020 11:08
Young Indian players who know little about their own chess history wax eloquent about Anand. They should be a little more aware of their chess heritage. I would ask such players to take a look a book like “Indian Chess History (570 AD -2010 AD)” by Aaron and Pandit. A phenomenon like Anand became possible because the spade work was done by players like Manuel Aaron, Nasir Ali and Ramachandra Sapre, not to mention legendary organizers like Bhausaheb Padsalgikar.
To his credit (?) Anand made only disparaging remarks about the state of chess in India before him in subsequent interviews. It’s there in his book, “Vishy Anand World Chess Champion” (Gambit 2012).The service, dedication and sacrifice made by others before him counted for nothing.
Amnesia!?
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/10/2020 11:07
On the Appeal by Armenia:
“The appeal was legitimate, but so was the decision.” Really? How can both be right?
One makes an appeal expecting a fair decision. If it is not there, one makes a strong protest.
Vishy did not complain in 1998 when all the conditions were weighed against him. If he had, he would have been disqualified or life made more difficult by FIDE. He didn’t want more tension and kept quiet. Neither AICF nor the community of chess players did anything for him. In the chess world it is always the cynical, “Each on his own”
In both the matches with Armenia and Russia the score could have been 3-3 and Armageddon would have been one way of deciding it or a proper rematch on all boards.
In fairness to Anand, he said, after the finals they were ready to play on all six boards with Russia.
“I don't see anything wrong with India's decision to wait for the official response to the appeal,” That’s right.
“…as they chose not to take the law into their own hands.” Really? How could they have?
Suppose, they had told the Appeals Committee in no uncertain terms they were willing to co-operate if Armenia wanted replay. They would have won plaudits all over the world. Why didn’t they?
Scorpion29 Scorpion29 9/10/2020 07:39
Coming to Armenia, their appeal was rejected because of a client issue, that was neither Chess.com nor Armenia's fault. One can ask the players to continue if there was a fault with Chess.com. But here this was not the case. The appeal was legitimate, but so was the decision. If you don't want to accept the final decision, then why appeal at all?Armenia should have continued irrespective of what 'grave injustice' had been done.

Vishy didn't complain when he had literally no rest before the 1998 FIDE WCC Final match against Karpov. He didn't agree with it, but unlike the 'protesters' he went along and tried to win anyway. That is a true sportsman if there ever was one. He tries to win irrespective of the circumstances.

So let us stop pretending to criticize and accept the results, even if we don't agree with it. It's rare for a competition to finish like this, but as they say, Chess is a draw with best play!
Scorpion29 Scorpion29 9/10/2020 07:35
chessbibliophile,

You write well, but your writing lacks substance. All these claims of the highest ethical standards are what we all strive for, but most people remember the winners, not losers. I don't see anything wrong with India's decision to wait for the official response to the appeal, as they chose not to take the law into their own hands.

When you criticize Anand, you must be very careful with your words. You are not speaking about someone who plays good chess but has a dubious personality (Karpov and Kasparov come to mind here). You are speaking about a gentleman who housed over 50 people during the Chennai floods, who has nurtured and motivated young talent, and who is the reason India is becoming a chess superpower. Criticizing someone is easy. But we must have enough credibility ourselves to criticize them. And the criticism should be valid.

Let us understand one more thing. There have been many games that have been lost or won because of the umpiring error. Doesn't mean the win or loss doesn't have value. The winner pours their heart and soul into improving their craft. They must be respected for their achievement. Ridiculing it because of debatable decisions by third parties only shows the insecurity and lack of understanding by the 'critic'.

This 'ethics' debate will go on for a few days, but 2020 will be remembered in the future as a catalyst for the Indian Chess fraternity...the day when India begins her rise to the top of the chess world. They won. It's as simple as that. Sport is (whether you choose to accept it or not) a result based field. The result mattered, matters and will always matter. Ethics is important, but it's not the ultimate goal - the ultimate goal is to win.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/10/2020 06:49
As long as sport remains, values like sportsmanship also remain. So Let us cut out the sarcasm bit about “ethics committee”. At the end of the day both teams and players have to uphold the highest standards of play. “All is fair in war and we can win by any means,” sets a bad example. The moot question is whether the Indian team merely accepted a decision favourable to it in the Match with Armenia. In fairness to the Indian Team it would have played from the final position if the FIDE had ordered a replay on the last board. What it did was “Wait and see” as indicated from the non-playing captain’s statement. In my view an immediate and direct response from the Indian side that they were willing for replay would have helped and done wonders for the cause of the game.
There is a difference between criticism and attack. Every public figure is accountable to society and is subject to legitimate criticism. This applies to Anand as any one else.
When there is criticism he and his fans have to accept in good grace. Personality cult of any sporting figure is not healthy. It’s time our young players grew up in maturity and started making an objective assessment of their idols and their accomplishments. Sporting gods are also human and they need to seen, warts and all.
All this talk about the "emotional instability" of the Armenian team does not hold water. Here was a team that won the gold in the real chess Olympiad time and again. If its legitimate appeal was rejected it had a right to make a strong protest. It did so with withdrawal. Those who do not know should go through their appeal, accompanying evidence and the FIDE decision. All are available in public domain. Neither the FIDE nor Chess.com made adequate provision for server failure and redress of grievances. Our fellow reader here has to understand, at the end of the day apples and oranges are fruits meant to be eaten! In this case it only left a bitter taste.
Scorpion29 Scorpion29 9/9/2020 08:49
chessbibliophile,

Quoting a cricket example is indeed fascinating, but I would like to remind you and the rest of the 'ethics' committee that at the end of the day chess is a sport, where two teams are fighting on behalf of their countries. Yes there can be errors, but at the end of the day we are all human beings, so each and every decision can be debated for hours, even if it is relatively the best decision that can be taken in that situation.

I am not a FIDE fan one bit, in fact the current administration is just as pathetic as the previous one. But you are blaming India for accepting the results, which is incorrect. When you are trying to attack a player of the stature of Vishy Anand, you should understand that us common players will do what Anand has done even in two lifetimes. In a sport one has to think about winning as well, and here the win was fully deserved, even if it didn't come in the way we all desired. But a win is a win, and we must respect the decision taken, even if we don't agree with it.

Armenia has the right to appeal, but withdrawing because their appeal wasn't upheld shows emotional instability. Let me remind you again that what happened in the Armenia match is completely different from what happened in the finals. So let's not compare apples and oranges and call them the same!
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/9/2020 06:34
The cheerleaders of “Indian chess” can do as much singing and dancing they want. That is no way to promote the cause of the game in India.
The fact remains that the result was marred by several blackouts. In a recent interview with Chess.com Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President candidly owned up moral responsibility for all errors of omission and commission. It seems that he tried to please both parties without appearing partisan and ended up pleasing no one. To date there is no clarity on whether the Russian Team would have accepted replay on the disputed boards with India or not: http://chess-news.ru/node/27317
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/9/2020 06:33
Armenia was right to protest and withdraw on principle and that would teach the organizers to respect opinions of players & teams, address their grievances and do things in a better way.
Having mentioned this, let me offer more by way of facts.
The Indian non-playing captain N. Srinath was asked by FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich about India’s stand on the appeal by Armenia. Here is what he told Sportstar (https://bit.ly/3id374F) Magazine, a well-known magazine of the Hindu group.
“I said, they could investigate the internet issue. But we could not wait indefinitely for the second match to start as it would be unfair to our players,” Srinath told Sportstar over phone from Chennai. “Then some two hours later, I was told, Armenia withdrew.”
He said, it wasn’t the way India wanted to reach the semifinals. “But we are still delighted that we are through,” he said. “We should not forget that Nihal was slightly better in the final position, and Martirosyan needed accurate moves – that too in severe time pressure -- to force a draw.”
(In a subsequent interview to Chess.com Dvorkovich stated, Martirosyan had only 52 seconds left on his clock).
Readers can check the position and reach their own conclusion:
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/9/2020 06:32
Let me remind the Indian chess players that there was another Vishy back in 1970s. He was G.R. Vishwanath, legendary batsman. He used to walk away from the field when he knew he was out without even waiting for the umpire’s decision. Mind you, the fate of a test, be it with West Indies or Australia depended often on the umpire’s decision. But for that other Vishy it was more important to set the highest ethical standard of play than by merely winning with favourable umpire decisions. Our own Vishy and his colleagues should reflect on the price they have had to pay for someone else’s dubious verdict, be it the FIDE or Chess.com. All their hard work, preparation and great performance in this online Olympiad have needlessly come under cloud by acquiescing into decisions that favoured them. How far should they claim responsibility or claim credit for this dubious “victory” is left to their conscience.
Scorpion29 Scorpion29 9/8/2020 10:57
I have seen previous commenters criticising the Indian team for accepting the decision in the Armenia match. While 'sportsmanship' is a valued asset, it is also important to understand that Armenia took a rather emotional decision to end the match then and there rather than fight on. So that must be equally criticized as well.

Also, you should know that the two cases were not as similar as they are painting - the Armenian team suffered a drop on the client side, while the Indian team suffered due to the drop in the Cloudflare server, which is not under their control. Vishy also mentioned in the press conference that the team was ready to replay the match itself.

One must also understand that the FIDE President did not rule in favour of India, BUT IN FAVOUR OF HIS TEAM RUSSIA. Had the games been continued there was a very high chance that we would have seen the Armageddon (pure statistics - even with Humpy's loss Divya would have won and Nihal drawn so its a draw 3-3). There was atleast a 50 percent chance that Russia would have lost the match had it gone into Armageddon. To ensure that the Gold went back to the yesteryear powerhouses the President decided on a solution that benefitted all sides, but in reality favoured his own.

Let us celebrate the rise of Indian Chess and the Resurgence of Russia, instead of throwing stones on all fronts!
Scorpion29 Scorpion29 9/8/2020 10:51
Gerald C your usual hate against India aside it was indeed a moderately worded speech by the Armenian Chess Chief, my respect to him for that.

Chessbibliophile,

While the manner in which India won can be criticized, looking at the matches purely chess wise it was clear that India atleast had 50 percent chance of winning them (I would increase it in the Armenia match as our juniors are the best in the world). So going on and on about criticising both the winners for celebrating or lack of it is mistaken and does not do justice to all the effort put in by players of both the teams.

To be continued...
sivakumar R sivakumar R 9/8/2020 07:58
There is no doubt a blemish in India’s victory and everyone is quick to criticize.
In the US victory of 2016 Olympiad, there was also a blemish (in using imported talent) – but everyone was quick to hail!
No wonder “might is always right” …….
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 9/8/2020 06:05
Members of the Armenian team have clearly stated and even proved that the connection problem was not caused by them, but by the server, Chess.com.
It is a fact that the Indian team did not win the matches with the Armenian and Russian teams over the board, but by arbitrary and dubious technical decisions. For the same reason the “celebration” on the joint victory at the Olympiad was uncalled for. It was poor publicity hype. This is not the way in which the game should be marketed anywhere, let alone India. Chess and its players do not deserve it. However, the preparation and effort the Indian players made over the board (whatever be the result) deserve to be appreciated. The same goes for the Armenian and the Russian players.
In the heat of the moment passions have been roused and uncivil comments have been made on chess players of India. It’s very decent of the President, Armenian Chess Federation to acknowledge the same even as he makes a perfectly legitimate case for a cause sadly and wrongly lost. Let us all be friends. GENS UNA SUMUS as he reminds us.
Gerald C Gerald C 9/8/2020 04:52
S. Sargsyan is absolutely right and his language is moderate.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 9/8/2020 04:15
It has been reported that the cause of the internet connection difficulties was on the Armenian side, and during the Russia-India match, was not on the Indian side. Is this correct?
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