Kovalyov case moves to Ethics Commission

by Macauley Peterson
10/7/2017 – It's tempting to make light of this affair by, for instance, referring to it as "the short(s) report". But when a tournament as prestigious as the FIDE World Cup is making international headlines for what amounts to dress code enforcement, it should be no laughing matter. We take a comprehensive look at the facts in evidence and Kovalyov's response to the previously published report. | Photo: Chess.com / Maria Emelianova (used with permission)

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Anton Kovalyov: The status quo

Last Sunday we published "The Kovalyov Report", a collection of interview fragments assembled by Georgian freelance journalist Ioseb Qipshidze at the behest of World Cup organiser Zurab Azmaiparashvili. The report reached no conclusions, but is a reflection of the views of its interview subjects. No effort was made to present Kovalyov's side of the dispute.

The story does not end there. The Chess Federation of Canada is actively pursuing a complaint about the matter with the FIDE Ethics Commission which convenes in Antalya on Monday at the 88th FIDE Congress. We spoke to Canadian representative to FIDE, Hal Bond, who will attend the meeting, and will present "the Canadian case" tomorrow.

The reader response to this ongoing story has been overwhelming. The "report" and our original post on the subject — "The shorts episode" — have been two of the three most commented stories in 2017! For this reason we'll return to it once more in a follow-up post, and present some of your discussion points, both from the public comments and those submitted via our feedback form.

But first, let's look at what we know, and try to break down the issues that the Ethics Commission will have to grapple with as they endeavor to ascertain the facts, then deliberate and come to a decision.

What we know

When seeking to establish facts, to some degree of confidence, it helps when the accounts provided by various witnesses agree. Part of the problem in this story, and why the situation is rife for speculation and interpretation, is there simply weren't very many witnesses. Perhaps the only person who was within earshot of the conversation between Kovalyov and Azmaiparashvili was photo journalist Maria Emelianova. Her photos of the incident have been widely shared and reproduced via social media and (with her permission) we include them here, chronologically. Since so much of this case revolves around the interior state of mind of the two protagonists, it's an important window into these crucial minutes of subjective experience.

Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Anton Kovalyov, photo by Chess.com / Maria Emelianova

Capturing the fateful discussion between Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Anton Kovalyov, minutes before the start of Round 3 | Photo: chess.com / Maria Emelianova, used with permission

Azmaiparashvili and the Chief Arbiter Tomasz Delega were both interviewed contemporaneously by ChessBase reporter IM Sagar Shah. These interviews are quite significant, as they occurred both very close in time to the actual events in question, and they represent first hand unedited testimony. They were also given in a very different context than the follow-up interiews provided to Qipshidze, which occurred roughly a week after the incident. By that point the full severity of Kovalyov's departure had become clear — it was making global headlines. For these reasons, the video interviews on the day ought to be regarded as more credible by the Ethics Commission.

1. The time and place

The conversation (which Kovalyov characterises rather as a confrontation or altercation) occurred in the playing hall between five and ten minutes prior to the start of the first game of the third round on September 9th. All those present agree on this basic fact.

2. The arbiter's warning

Chief Arbiter Delega is quoted in the Qipshidze report as saying, "this was the first time when I realized that he was wearing shorts, so I politely asked him to change his outfit before the game." He also gave a contemporaneous account to IM Sagar Shah:

Tomasz Delega interviewed in the lobby of the Hualing Hotel, outside the playing hall

Azmaiparashvili was aware that Delega had issued a warning about the dress code, because he briefly spoke to the Chief Arbiter after Delega's conversation with Kovalyov. The result of that exchange with Delega prompted Zurab to take matters into his own hands. He described the circumstances contemporaneously, again to Sagar Shah:

When I see the situation that the chief arbiter cannot solve it himself, I went to the player because — I'm not only here, not only Appeals Committee Chairman in this tournament, but also as the organiser of the tournament — I have a responsibility.

3. Kovalyov's previous attire

There were conflicting statements among the interviewees in Qipshidze's report regarding whether Kovalyov had worn shorts during the previous World Cup in Baku, as he contends:

Mr. Kovalyov claims, he was wearing shorts while playing The World Cup 2015 in Baku, but the Chief arbiter of that tournament Mr. Faiq Hasanov ensures us that it is not true.

This is then immediately contradicted by Azmaiparashivili, who's quoted saying "Mr. Kovalyov is correct. I have seen the proof of him playing The World Cup 2015 in Baku wearing shorts."

Indeed, this is simple to determine and one wonders why the question is left even remotely ambiguous. Kovalyov did wear shorts during the 2015 World Cup in Baku:

More significantly, it's clear that he wore shorts during the first two rounds in Tbilisi — in fact the identical pair he was criticised for in round three. There are multiple witnesses and photos establishing this. It is significant mainly insofar as it permits a reasonable expectation on Kovalyov's part that his attire was acceptable, in accordance with the regulations. If it were not, it would be reasonable for him to assume that he should have been notified during one of the first four days he competed in the tournament (two games in each of the first two rounds).

4. The dress code is imprecise

The World Cup regulations as well as the FIDE Handbook offer limited guidence:

Players are requested to note the requirements of FIDE Regulations C.01 (Article 8.1) in respect of their dignified appearance at all times during the World Cup.

Article 8.1, advises:

The image of the chess player should be a dignified one, and dressing properly would not only show respect for the game, but also to sponsors, potential or otherwise, to make it worth their while to spend their money.

The ambiguity is duly noted in the Qipshidze interviews. All three arbiters quoted acknowledge the potential benefit of clearer regulations. Deputy Chief Arbiter, Ashot Vardapetyan, questions whether it should be the responsibility of arbiters to enforce a dress code at all.

I believe that regulations must be changed and become more precise. I also want to say that the dress code is not connected to the arbiters, it’s not our responsibility. With the new regulations, it has to be clear who is responsible and how.

However, the dress code itself, its importance, and the interpretation of what is "dignified" is relevant primarily as it pertains to the state of mind of each of the participants. For example, it's clear from Azmaiparashili's subsequent interiew that he regarded Kovalyov's casual dress as a sign of disrespect, reflecting the wording of the FIDE Handbook.

The dress code is not particularly relevant, however, in and of itself, as Kovalyov was not forfeited for a dress code violation, and therefore there is nothing directly connected to the dress code for him to appeal. He did not leave the tournament in protest of the dress code.

5. Azmaiparashvili told Kovalyov that he resembles a "Gypsy"

The meaning, intention or implication of the term "gypsy" is disputed, but the basic fact that Azmaiparashvili told Kovalyov that he "looks like a Gypsy" is not. Kovalyov first made this claim in a lengthy statement on his Facebook profile:

Clearly he regarded it as both an insult and a racial slur. Whether one agrees with that judgement or not, it establishes Kovalyov's frame of mind which is relevant to the question of his motivation for leaving the tournament. In a follow-up post two days later, after he was back in the United States, he clarified a number of points, one of which is regarding his characterisation of Azmaiparashvili's intention.

Zurab used the word "gypsy" when referring to me multiple times. First he said that I look like one. Later on, when I inquired why he was so rude to me he did indeed respond "BECAUSE YOU'RE A GYPSY" [sic] and I believe he repeated this again when I was standing there in shock thinking what action to take. This was all done in a very condescending tone.

There is no corroboration that Azmaiparashili actually said "you're a Gypsy", but he himself acknowledged referring to Kovalyov looking like a Gypsy, in an interview with ChessBase India on September 10th:

I used the word "Gypsy" but not calling him "Gypsy". I used the word "you are dressed like Gypsy".

He went on to say that the word to him was synonymous with a "homeless person", and what he really meant was that Kovalyov "dressed like a clown — and only one thing missing for Anton is that, with this short pants, he have to also make a red nose."

He further denies any implication that the term signified racial or national prejudice:

Georgian people don't have a tradition to criticise or to insult some nation. There is not in our soul — and what is not in our soul, actually I cannot — if I grow up like this, I never grow up as some kind of racist. If somebody try today [to say] that I am a racist, this is a wrong approach and they will not succeed in this. But I apologize because this word for some people or some nations maybe it's very insulting. The meaning of the word they interpret differently, and that's why I have to make a clarificaiton of this word, why I used this. And I don't use "you are a Gypsy" again, because then maybe they could consider that I am insulting a nation. I use "you are dressed like a Gypsy" and that's why you have to change your clothes. And it was actually after this that he provoked me, he asked me "what is wrong with my dress."

Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Anton Kovalyov, photo by Chess.com / Maria Emelianova

The third frame sequentially of the heated discussion | Photo: Chess.com / Maria Emelianova (used with permission)

Emelianova could not be sure of what was said precisely, but did get the impression that Azmaiparashvili used "Gypsy" as a short-hand for describing Kovalyov's dress, and nothing more serious. Be that as it may, one can assume a generous interpretation of Azmaiparashvili's intent, and nevertheless safely conclude that his comment is a put down, meant to convey in no uncertain terms that Kovalyov was unwelcome in the playing hall dressed as he was. But beyond being unwelcome...

6. Kovalyov was threatened

In his September 11th Facebook post, Kovalyov outlines how he perceived the situation:

When Zurab approached me he didn't give me any warning. He assured me that I will be punished by FIDE. At that point I was shocked since I was not given any warning before. This was a huge shock for me before the game, since I don't know what "punished by FIDE" means. Will I be banned from playing chess? Will I get kicked out from the tournament? Will I be stripped away from my monetary prize? All of [these] questions crossed my mind. I knew that Zurab is the organizer of the tournament and an influential figure in FIDE, and in a prepotent way he yelled that he could do whatever he wants. So even after this threat I wasn't sure if there was point in playing my game. It was clear to me that I wasn't wanted there and Zurab wanted to destabilize me before my game.

One may doubt the characterisation used by Kovalyov as subjective ("he yelled", "he wanted to destabilize me"), but Azmaiparashvili himself acknowledges that he was issuing a de facto threat:

I asked Mr. Kovalyov to follow the dress code rule, and he said that previously he was also playing like this — at [the] previous World Cups and so on — and I said really I don't care how he played previously, but the Chief Arbiter asked him, and I am asking him also, to take a normal [pair of] pant[s] and [observe] the dress code in the playing hall. Otherwise, I told him that — the Chief Arbiter will make a report — I will make a report — and you will be punished by FIDE financially. Of course there is a financial punishment. Grandmaster Kovalyov [didn't] like this, and he left. But really I was thinking that finally he understood me, so he went to his room to change to the pants. But later we understand that he just became angry and he left the room and he didn't come back, which is really sad for me, because I don't like it when some players are getting a point like this [referring to Maxim Rodshtein -Ed.], and it is not good generally for the tournament. But if it's a sacrifice for the dress code, I'm in favor that we follow the dress code...

Excerpt from the full interview on September 9th with Zurab Azmaiparashvili | Source: ChessBase India

7. Kovalyov had no prior intention of leaving

In the immediate aftermath of the incident and Kovalyov's departure, Azmaiparashvili sought to portray Kovalyov's decision to leave as premeditated, in a statement on the World Cup web site:

It is not appropriate for a chess player to declare a day before that he intentionally came with only one shorts and that he is ready to leave, because he has other more important obligations. Indeed, he left the tournament as he stated that he wished to do so only one day before!

Azmaiparashvili cited an interview (in Russian) with Evgeny Surov's Chess-News.ru, and concluded from it, that it was Kovalyov's intention to leave the tournament.

UTD logoAlthough Kovalyov did express that his primary activity was being a full-time student, he clearly intended to remain as long as he was advancing in the World Cup. There was speculation that he was under pressure not to miss too many days of classes, but that is dubious for two reasons:

  1. The semester had just started.
  2. Kovalyov studies at the University of Texas Dallas under a chess scholarship. It's not plausible that he could face serious academic repercussions as a result of excelling at his sport at the highest level.

Flight itinerary

Moreover, already on September 7th, after defeating Anand, he had rebooked his flight for September 12th. This itinerary [click or tap to expand] is from the email confirmation of his travel agency, and is among several similar emails which Kovalyov shared with ChessBase, to detail his travel timeline.

As is common among underdog participants in the World Cup, Kovalyov initially booked a return flight on September 6th, to use in the event he was eliminated in the first round.

After getting past Varuzhan Akobian on September 4th, he rebooked a flight out on the 10th departing Tbilisi at 10:55 AM. Once he advanced to the third round, he changed his plans for a third time as noted, and finally — after the incident with Azmaiparashvili — Kovalyov purchased a new one-way ticket at a cost of 516 Euro (around USD $605) with which he eventually left the country, on Qatar Airways' 2:35 AM departure on Sunday the 10th, after forfeiting his third round game.

So, this was actually his fourth itinerary change, with the total flight expense of at least USD $1,825. Only the last change is unusual — the pattern of rebooking round-by-round is not atypical, especially when he could anticipate facing Anand in round two!

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He-said-he-said

Now that we have laid out the relevant facts that we know with confidence, the situation becomes more challenging to analyse. No new witnesses have come forward to help corroborate the pair's disparate accounts of the substance and tone of the encounter. I contacted two players on a tip that they might have witnessed the exchange — Alexandr Lenderman and David Navara — but unfortunately neither of them was nearby. Navara did however provide some relevant perspective:

In fact, I was not the eye witness. On the contrary, I was perhaps the last person who learned about the scandal. Well, there is this photo of me communicating with Anton 10 minutes before the game. I just asked him what was his native language. I paid no attention to his clothes at all. Instead, I realized I forgot my tie in the room and went back for it...I played the longest game of the round, still not knowing anything. When a friend told me what had happened, I thought he was joking. It sounded absurd to me.

Kovalyov and Navara

To be honest, I think that coming to the World Cup just with shorts is not completely appropriate, but shouting at a player before the start of his game is certainly even less so. There were many better ways to deal with the problem. I hope Anton gets his money, even though he does not want it. Well, perhaps with some small deduction, but he has deserved his prize by winning his first two matches and he should therefore get the money. Anton is an honest man and I understand and appreciate that principles are more important for him than money, but those two values are not always mutually exclusive, even though in some cases they might be. Many employees dislike their bosses and still rightfully take money for their work.

It is not clear whether it's fair to say that Azmaiparashvili "yelled". Kovalov certainly experienced it that way:

Zurab was yelling at me at all times during our "conversation", if you can call it that way. He "talked" to me in a very prepotent and condescending tone. I remained respectful till I couldn't take it anymore, and before doing anything impulsive I thought about the consequences and decided to leave. It was clear that Zurab was provoking me, it was obvious that I was upset and he kept repeating the same threats and insults. There were some people in the playing hall at that time, if you heard something, please speak up.

Azmaiparashvili explains this away as the general character of his voice:

When he using word that I 'shout' this is not correct again, because my voice unfortunately is very loud. Even sometimes people aske me to speak [quietly but] it's not for me. Any kind of word I say, in fifteen minutes people will hear about this, so it's not my style. And probably he wants to interpret in Facebook that I really shouted. This was not like this.

Emelianova, was standing fairly close to the conversation, and characterised Azmaiparashvili as having "exploded" to Qipshidze:

Of course he shouldn’t have exploded next to the player, especially before the game, but I also understand that Mr. Azmaiparashvili is under a lot of pressure organizing this event. In my opinion Mr. Kovalyov also overreacted.

However, others in the room do not claim to have heard the exchange at all.

Kovalyov's response

In response to our request for comment on the published report by Qipshidze, Kovalyov sent us the following via email:

It seems like a pretty one sided article, which is not surprising having in mind the people involved in it. I wasn't wearing beach shorts, so exaggerating in order to sound more convincing is basically defamation. I really don't know what else to say other than repeat myself. Maybe if you work for the organizers of the tournament or FIDE in general, being insulted, threatened and yelled at multiple times is not a big deal. I don't work for these scumbags and I don't plan to, so I will not tolerate such treatment. I am still not sure what will be my next step regarding this situation, but this cannot be left unpunished.

He then followed up, unsolicited, on October 2nd:

I would like to propose the following idea: if dressing classy is so important in chess why not to include it as a an extra attribute in the chessbase database? This could also be used as an extra tie-break system in tournaments called "Player's disrespect level" or just PDL. A PDL close to 0% means that the player was dressed extremely classy for the whole tournament. Also when having such a field in chessbase, player's can have a more complete preparation for their opponents, and it can be a consolation prize for those that can't beat their opponents over the board, beating them at least in something...

What comes next?

Attendees to the 88th FIDE Congress are arriving in Antalya today, and the Congress officially gets underway tomorrow. The Ethics Commission convenes on Monday, at 9:00 AM local time, according to the schedule.

Tomorrow we'll look into the argument that may be presented to the panel by the representative of the Chess Federation of Canada.

Update October 8: "The Canadian Case"

FIDE congress banner

Correction: The initial version of this story gave the wrong University of Texas as the location of Kovalyov's current graduate studies. It is UT Dallas, not UT Rio Grand Valley, where he previously studied. Both have chess teams / scholarships.

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Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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oldsalt7 oldsalt7 11/4/2017 04:13
It is strange that Kovalyov was reprimanded only after he ousted Anand. Is it at all possible that the whole controversy was a grand charade. 'Operation oust Anand' from the candidates!.
Martas Martas 10/11/2017 01:45
@Bill Alg : at least you should rethink your statement that Rodshtein was not beneficiary from Azmaiparashvili's action. Or do you want to claim that Kovalyov would have left the stage even if he would have not been approached by Z.A. ?
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/10/2017 04:06
@ Bill Alg : "Azmai did not expel Kovalyov from the tournament, he told him to change clothes." This, 5 or 10 mn. before the next game. Nothing better than to ensure that what you ask can't be done ; like that, it's not your fault ! You did ALL you could ! (Quite obvious, isn't it ? Or is it really ??)
Bill Alg Bill Alg 10/10/2017 11:51
Kovalyov left the tournament, causing great damage to it. He should have stayed, trying to buy new clothes and play on. He did not ask for any compensation in his public message after leaving. I don't really know what the Canadian Federation wants now.

Claiming that Rodshtein was the beneficiary of Azmaiparashvili's actions is not true. Rodshtein benefited from Kovalyov's actions. Azmai did not expel Kovalyov from the tournament, he told him to change clothes.
ex0 ex0 10/9/2017 08:22
1. Zurab would not have gone off or called Kramnik/Anand or anyone else a "Gypsy'(!!!) or disrespected them before an important game just because they wore shorts etc..

2. It's clear from the picture that Zurab was angry and talking down to Kovalyov simply because he was young, and of course showing him disrespect and even calling him a gypsy(!!!). Doesn't matter if he said "You are a Gypsy", he said You LOOK like one, which is basically accusing him of being one because he dresses like one.. What is a gypsy if not a racial/class slur?

3. Azmai is a hothead, he should not be judge/jury/executioner. IE organizer, arbiter, appeals committee member etc. He should have no reason to be speaking to Kovalyov in any capacity, either as FIDE president or tournament organizer or some random 'high class person' since he is obviously looking down on Kovalyov because he is a 'gypsy' or looks like one.. wtf?

Kovalyov did no wrong here, even if he did change his pants, he was clearly attacked and put off mentally by Azmai. How can someone be ready to play a game vs Anand or Rodstein in such a mood? It's clear, they can't. No hotheads should be arbiter, especially not ones calling them Gypsy and screaming at people(exploding). It's clear from the picture that Azmai didn't act professionally and not only that, he acted disrespectfully and even attacked Kovalyov.

Azmai needs to be punished, even lose his job for the Gypsy slur.. end of story. If he didn't call him a gypsy, then ok, we can overlook the shouting, but Gypsy and class slurs? Cmon, that's way too far for someone of his supposed position.

Lastly, like others have said, Ding Liren wore tracksuit until the last round almost, and only changed after Kovalyov got screamed/threatened and cursed at already. Why didn't other players get called gypsy and be attacked and get put off mentally too? This is not fair for Kovalyov. He picked on Kovalyov because he was from Canadian federation(no power) and because Kovalyov was young and had no real backing, unlike Ding Liren who was there with the Chinese head coach and his tracksuit was chinese national team tracksuit..

Azmai is total embarassment for FIDE and the game. Last time he got in a fight and headbutted someone and his bleeding face was all over the papers, now this, calling players a Gypsy because of their dress.. What's next?
macauley macauley 10/8/2017 10:22
Posted "The Canadian Case" (see link above)
oleppedersen oleppedersen 10/8/2017 05:46
I find it hilarious that the player is told off for the way he dresses by an arbiter in an old polo shirt and worn-down jeans. This case just reinforces the impression of FIDE as a sad, sad joke. Player should have been told off before game 1 and expelled before game 2 if this really was in clear breach of rules. When he wasnt, his dress code is accepted.
geraldsky geraldsky 10/8/2017 04:56
Azmaiparasvilli is too harsh and unprofessional.. We expect that Kovalyov will no longer wear shorts in the future tournaments and Azmaiparasvilli must be fired by Fide.
bonnie charles bonnie charles 10/8/2017 04:48
No question both Kovalyov and Azmaiparashvili are hotheads, but there is an irony in the whole situation. Azmaiiparashvili who is wearing jeans and a T-shirt as a main organizer is telling off Kovalyov for not wearing proper clothes. If the event was such a high prestigious one why the main organizer wore proper clothes i.e. a suit, a shirt with a tie?
e-mars e-mars 10/8/2017 04:28
@Petrarlsen You're correct. Although I do not justify Kovalyov's behavior, that brings to evaluate this story from another point of view, the one you would take while analyzing Kovalyov's background, education, family and so on... Since I have never ever seen Caruana wearing "Gipsy clothes" nor Ding Liren or anybody of the same age and ranking, I may wonder why this happened to Kovalyov only. But I do not want to open up Pandora's box here. Let's focus on Azmaiparashvili and FIDE...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/8/2017 04:02
@ e-mars : "(...) Kovalyov's been just stupid as a normal kid of his age (...)" Not saying this either for or against Kovalyov, but he isn't really a "kid" : he is of Caruana's and Ding Liren's age, one year older than So, and two years older than Giri. Logically, if Caruana isn't a "kid" (and I don't think that anyone would call him a "kid"), then Kovalyov isn't a "kid" either...
e-mars e-mars 10/8/2017 03:04
I begin to suspect Aronian intentionally wore that cat t-shirt and all his "laundry crisis" is a subtle, ironic yet intelligent (as I think Aronian is) comment or reaction about the shorts scandal, but everybody was so focused on Kovalyov and Azmaiparashvili that nobody noticed it. If it is true that Azmaiparashvili talked to Ding Liren during the (semi?)final and not to Aronian that confirms again there're A-class and B-class GMs, the untouchable (most probably our beloved Ivanchuk is among them) and all the others: do not forget sponsors! They are above all! Clearly Aronian's cat t-shirt or a shabby Ivanchuk (or Grishuk as someone mentioned) are good for sponsors while Ding Liren and Kovalyov are not.... ...

@USCF Expert Yes, as I have already commented, IMHO Kovalyov's been just stupid as a normal kid of his age and background would probably be. Unfortunately the 2015 WC precedent didn't help.
Jimjam Jimjam 10/8/2017 02:56
It will be telling to see what FIDE Ethics Commission does with this. Whitewash Asmaiparashvili's behavior or sanction him? Will cronyism or organizational responsibility carry the day? The result will speak volumes about the state of FIDE.
onyman onyman 10/8/2017 02:31
(And also ban him from the playing hall during the games in order to prevent him from bullying players while their game is in progress.)
onyman onyman 10/8/2017 02:18
This is how I think FIDE should deal with the whole issue:

- give Kovalyov the money he earned by reaching round 3 plus some financial compensation

- ban Azmaiparashvili in events he organises from the playing hall and from the way to the playing hall (before the game) for the next couple of years. So that he wont be able to bully players again - at least not before the games.

- apologize to Kovalyov for Azmaiparashvilis misconduct

- Make the dress code clear and also formulate the consequences a player has to expect if he is not following the dress code.
USCF Expert USCF Expert 10/8/2017 02:01
Honestly, Kovalyov's response does not do him any credit. He is being obnoxious, disrespectful, sarcastic, and a bit stupid. That said, it sounds like two hotheads (Azmaiparashvili and Kovalyov) had the unfortunate fate to meet, and this kind of blow-up is the result.

It seems like as others commented, its an easy solution. Instead of leaving things fuzzy in the tournament regulations, make them very specific for the tournament, then invite the players and make it clear what is expected as far as dress code is concerned, and then if they agree to that, they can participate in the tournament. Maybe some organizers would want a very formal tournament where only suit + tie is expected, while others may want a more relaxed informal dress, with say, polo shirts and slacks as the code. Perhaps another tournament would be very relaxed, with t-shirts and shorts allowed. It all is fine, but just spell these conditions out ahead of time, and then there will be no confusion. This isn't rocket science.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/8/2017 01:46
I find quite significant that David Navara and Tomasz Delega (the Chief Arbiter), who were both quite well-dressed, were quite moderate in their reactions (for Tomasz Delega, cf. a previous ChessBase article : http://en.chessbase.com/post/the-kovalyov-report), and that it was Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who arguably wasn't dressed in a better way than Kovalyov, who reacted in a completely incorrect way...
PPawn PPawn 10/8/2017 01:25
After reading so much on this it appears to me while Kovalyov was wearing shorts but Zurab was behaving "short". So many senior chess colleagues going on form or appearance (Kovalyov's short) rather than substance (Zurab's behaviour). The show of a gentleman is how one interacts with people, talk to people not mere what you where. This is perhaps a sign of decline in character or quality of people at the helm.

Does FIDE or chess organisations mere emphasise on wearing a suit to be a gentleman rather than behaving like a gentleman. Don't know which way chess .... game of intellectuals is going. Sad state.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/8/2017 01:20
@ WildKid : Yes, but what was like Capablanca's "tennis attire" ? I'm no specialist at all on the subject, but I suspect it was very different from what it is today... And, furthermore, this was for one isolated game, not for a whole tournament (the same could be said of Aronian, who is nearly always well-dressed, but who nonetheless came for one of the World Cup games with this cat t-shirt who wasn't really the most beautiful piece of garment on earth, in my opinion...).

But, as Azmaiparashvili wasn't really dressed in a better way than Kovalyov, to see him criticizing Kovalyov's attire is quite ridiculous (even without taking into account the inacceptable way he conducted all this...).
adamjohn.may22@gmail.com adamjohn.may22@gmail.com 10/8/2017 01:06
I read on another column that Bernuda shorts were allowed under the dress code. Also that arbiters and tournament officials should not wear T shirts. Viewed from that angle, if true, the player was dressed within the guidelines and Azmaiparashvili was not. Regardless of the guidelines, surely the essential facts are that Kovalyov could reasonably have expected his attire to be considered reasonable as he wore the same shorts to play in the two previous rounds. Secondly, whether he was insulted or not, the timing of the intervention was entirely inappropriate. Nobody could be expected to be in the right frame of mind after such an exchange, within five minutes of sitting at the board.
satman satman 10/8/2017 12:54
So what about the business of the colours being changed from what had been originally announced?
Did it really happen? If so, what's the explanation?
It certainly raises all kinds of questions - why just this game?, why weren't the players (or at least this player) not informed earlier of the change?
A conspiracy theorist might suspect that the Shorts Incident was just a side show to turn the spotlight away from some other skullduggery.
But that would be idiotic - after all this is FIDE...oh.
WildKid WildKid 10/8/2017 12:44
FlorynCD: Can anyone imagine Capablanca or Botvinnik or any other such player wearing shorts.

Yes, indeed I can. There is a famous story about Capablanca playing an adjourned game against Yates wearing tennis attire.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/8/2017 12:03
Taking into account what Azmaiparashvili said, it seems that he thinks dressing like Gipsies means dressing like homeless clowns. Dressing like a Gypsy means dressing like they dress, that is, their traditional dressing. However, there are many Gypsies where I live and in general women are dressing into white outfit with painted flowers or very clolorful dresses and men are dressing in suits. Of course, the poorer or the homeless are not elegant at all, but White homeless people are not elegant either. So, when Azmaiparashvili was telling Kovalyov that he is dressing like a Gypsy, he essentially accused the player that he was dressing in full accordance with the dress code. Of course, he did not want to mean that and he has a stereotype that Gypsies are homeless in general, which, if plausible in the region he lives, then it is very sad.
e-mars e-mars 10/8/2017 11:32
@floryncd you keep saying this, chess players of old would have done it differently. You deeply lack of any knowledge about chess history, I am afraid. History is FULL of anecdotes and stories about odd, questionable and surely controversial behaviours.
Before quoting Capablanca, Botvinnik, Lasker I would recommend to take some free time and document yourself better about chess history.
Those chess players of old were everything BUT a good example of what you are trying to recall here, today. And it's perfectly normal because we are talking about complete different times: we can't make any comparison at all.
BabyPfuscher BabyPfuscher 10/8/2017 11:09
Aronian wore a cat t-shirt and yet no one objected. Is a cat-shirt any more dressy than a pair of dress shorts? I would have to say no -despite the fact that I really liked it!, they are roughly on the same level of casual attire. OK so Kovalyov didn't leave the tournament because of this discrepancy or because there was no way for him to acquire pants but rather on how he was treated about it. He was threatened and disrespected in front of his peers in plain sight and earshot just minutes before he had to play an important game. I wonder how Aronian would of reacted had Azmaiparashvili treated him in the same manner? How would you feel?
floryncd floryncd 10/8/2017 10:34
Can anyone imagine Capablanca or Botvinnik or any other such player wearing shorts.

All serious chessplayers should dress appropriately (or "classy" as Mr. Kovalyov says).

On the other hand GM Azmaiparashvili acted totally shamefully and disrespectfully and showed that FIDE is not a serious
organization.
virginmind virginmind 10/8/2017 09:11
Of course it's all about the way you speak/behave. Admittedly, those shorts were not quite the best outfit for a World Cup venue, but had Azmaiparashvili spoken normaly to Kovalyov - like, admitting the fault of the organisers not to notice/advice him about his shorts in the previous rounds and, having in view that there was no time to go and buy a pair of pants, ask him to buy the pair tomorrow morning so he could wear them starting from the next round - I'm sure the player would have had no problem with it, continued to play the round normally and starting with the fourth roud he would have appeared as required.

But no - like someone pointed out before - Azma had to have it his way, a way he was used to - that of a bully or, if you prefer, a thug. Because it was probably not the first time and because he got away with it. "Hey, what do you want, that's me, I'm a bit of a tough guy, deal with it, I'm the boss, all right?"

The behaviour of Azmai towards a player at a World Cup venue, minutes before the starting of the round, was completely unprofessional - all the more that, being for a long time a professional player himself, he knew well what effect might have his words/behaviour upon the player who was just about to sit at the table and start playing. That is, completely upsetting his power of concentration, with direct effect on the quality of the game being played and on the result.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/8/2017 05:26
A slob in blue jeans with his shirt undone and his chest hair sticking out is going to lecture the world about dress codes and respect?

And he can't tell the difference between using a racial slur because he thinks it is OK to say, and using it because he thinks it is OK to say?

Yes, the fact that you use the slur and claim it is innocent to use it MEANS you're a racist. The argument isn't over the true meaning of the word, it is over if you think it is OK to say on the job.
Nezhmetdinov191919 Nezhmetdinov191919 10/8/2017 05:01
Congratulations, Mr. Peterson.
Your writing follows logic, common sense and is a pleasure to read.
I look forward to reading other articles from you.
MikeyBoy MikeyBoy 10/8/2017 03:30
Here's an idea. If FIDE fail to bring about justice, how about every player attending the next tournament organized by this bully all wear shorts as a show of solidarity? Let's see him threaten everyone and see how that works out.
SULAYI_LANG SULAYI_LANG 10/8/2017 03:02
Just for some funny fictional thoughts: Probably what we didn't see was the amount of money Zurab loss when he put so much at stake in rooting for Anand to win...hahaha. For real, most may forgot how Azmai scuffled with Spanish presidential guards and end up in jail badly beaten...so whose character is tainted? Don't mutter words which you are not familiar with and i don't think this guy is an idiot for not knowing whats the meaning of it. I believe cameras are all over the venues...it is vital to the investigation, unless it was already purposely deleted, to conceal the factual circumstances of the case.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/8/2017 01:42
@ Lark : "Breaking dress code is no good (...)" The problem is that it isn't obvious at all that shorts were prohibited by the rules. Personally, I would be in favor of it, but such wasn't the case. So, in view of this, in my opinion, an extreme course of action as the one chosen by Zurab Azmaiparashvili was completely inadequate.
Lark Lark 10/8/2017 01:09
Mr.Azmaiparashvili had any clearences to talk to the players, no matter amount of money he represent. Breaking dress code is no good, yelling on the player by organiser is no good. There is no white or black it is grey situation.
Martas Martas 10/8/2017 12:24
Asking top players to support Kovalyov in this case, there is at least one:
https://www.chessbase.in/news/topolov-withdraws-from-fide-grand-prix
http://veselin-topalov.com/index.php/news-media/what-is-new/397-who-is-the-ecu-president-for-real-part-2
jecatotal jecatotal 10/8/2017 12:09
a ridiculous situation, instead of chess, the issue was short paints.
mjmax mjmax 10/7/2017 11:16
Mr.Azmaiparashvili should first dress professionally before he could comment on participants.
Sets a bad precedent himself. Why can't organizers find a better professional to lead the tournaments? On Kovalyov, given that he was allowed to play with the same dress in the first two rounds wondering why organizers discovered all the sudden that he has not dressed to their expectation. State the dress code clearly as part of the rules and then take action when the rules are broken. Not this way.
cathyc cathyc 10/7/2017 11:03
Never having heard anybody have a good word to say about Zurab Azmaiparashvili, I looked him up on wiki....and if this prompts you to go and look at it, keep in mind that this is the best official interpretation of him. Corruption and bullying, amongst other charges, are listed under the long subcategory 'controversies'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zurab_Azmaiparashvili. Some of them will sound very familiar. And the wiki page is scarcely complete. It doesn't mention, for example, "In 2010, however, he [Gashimov] did not represent his country at the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk due to a conflict with the national chess federation and former team coach Zurab Azmaiparashvili." from Gashimov's wiki page. So incredibly sad given he was such a special GM and it was his last chance, as it turned out after he died at an early age.
SunriseK SunriseK 10/7/2017 10:58
I marvel why is there even debate about this! It's so obvious that Azmaiparashvili was very wrong: he bullied, insulted and threatened Kovalyov for no real reason. And all of this, few minutes before the round! It's absolutely unacceptable! No doubt he, and not certainly Kovalyov, should be punished for this misbehavior. Looking ahead to see what happens now...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/7/2017 10:42
@ Martas : And if we were to compare Kovalyov to all the people in history who used the term "Scumbag", we wouldn't see the end of it ! In fact, Kovalyov and Ivanov have MANY common points : both of them have two hands, two feet, ten fingers, one head, etc. ; very suspicious indeed !! (...the main difference being perhaps what they have - or haven't - UNDER their feet ! but this is quite another story...)
Martas Martas 10/7/2017 10:25
@oldalt7 : this is at least second time you mentioned famous cheater in the context of dress code issue. I expect you wear suit and tie even when sleeping, isn't it?