FIDE World Cup 2017: The shorts episode

by Sagar Shah
9/9/2017 – On 9th of September at the start of the third round of the FIDE World Cup 2017, Anton Kovalyov came to the board before the round began. He was wearing his striped shorts, the same one that he had worn while playing rounds one and two. He was asked by ECU President to dress appropriately in accordance with the dress code which was mentioned in the players' contract. Kovalyov left the playing hall before the round began and did not turn up for the game. After 15 minutes, his opponent Maxim Rodshtein was given a walkover.

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32 players were supposed to play the third round of the FIDE World Cup 2017 at 3 p.m. in Hualing Hotel, Tbilisi. However, when the clocks started, one of them was missing. That person was Anton Kovalyov. Anton was up against Maxim Rodshtein. And Anton didn't turn up even after 15 minutes of forfeit time had passed which gave his opponent the full point.

Canadian-Russian GM Anton Kovalyov is playing the tournament of his life. In round one he beat Varuzhan Akobian 1.5-0.5 and in round two he beat five-time World Champion Viswanathan Anand with the same score. |Amruta Mokal

Anton's scorecard from the official website (click to expand)

Why did Anton Kovalyov forfeit the game?

Anton came to the playing hall a few minutes before the stipulated start at  3.p.m.

Anton came dressed in the same shorts that he had worn against Akobian in round one and Anand in round two. This picture was taken eleven minutes before the game was due to begin. (photo by Amruta Mokal)

ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili noticed that Anton was dressed in shorts and asked him to adhere to the players' contract which mentions the point related to the dress code:

3. 13. 4. 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.

C.01 (Article 8.1) of the FIDE handbook mentions the following:

The Commission on Chess Publication, Information and Statistics (CHIPS) stresses the need for all chess players to take more care in their personal appearance. 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.

For example, some federations have barred slippers, sleeveless T-shirts and vests in their tournaments. Those with unkempt and greasy hair should be admonished, as well as those wearing old or torn jeans and battered attire generally.

Anton Kovalyov left the playing hall and did not return for the game. Rodshtein made the move 1.d4, 15 minutes passed and Kovalyov is not to be seen. |Amruta Mokal

Arbiter Arild Rimestad stops the clock |Amruta Mokal

1-0. Anton Kovalyov forfeits the game. |Amruta Mokal

Maxim Rodshtein would not have expected the game to end so soon! |Amruta Mokal

After the incident, we got in touch with Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who clarified the situation in the following video:

ECU President Zurab Azmaiprashvili talks about the shorts incident


Chief arbiter Tomasz Delega speaks about the shorts incident

The chief arbiter also clarified that it was he who spoke to Anton first and later Zurab Azmaiparashvili.

Meanwhile an enraged Anton Kovalyov left the hotel and also the tournament

When asked for a comment, Kovalyov said that he was too angry and didn't wish to go on record. He has booked his flight and has left the venue.

In the evening Kovalyov updated his Facebook Status and speaks about this incident:

"I wanted to wait a little till I calm down, but I'm tired of seeing lies everywhere. So here's what happened:

The issue were not the shorts but how I was treated. I came to the game and was approached by the arbiter asking me to change (first time). I told him that I don't have pants with me, and then I noticed that I was playing black instead of white, which came as a surprise for me and asked him to check that. He and the other arbiters checked and confirmed to me that I'm playing with black, we talked a little and everything was fine. Then came Zurab, he was very agressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur "gypsy" to insult me, apart from mentioning several times that I will be punished by FIDE. I told him that I had asked before at the previous world cup if what I was wearing was OK and I was told by somebody from the organization that yes. Zurab, in a prepotent way, said he doesn't care, he's the organizer now. At this point I was really angry but tried not to do anything stupid, and asked him why he was so rude to me, and he said because I'm a gypsy.

So imagine this, the round is about to start, I'm being bullied by the organizer of the tournament, being assured that I will be punished by FIDE, yelled at and racially insulted. What would you do in my situation? I think many people would have punched this person in the face or at least insulted him. I decided to leave.

Worth pointing out, I didn't take any pants with me because I gained some weight and they were to tight. If the organization of the tournament would have warned me sooner I would have taken a cab to the mall and bought pants, without any problems whatsoever, but instead I was treated like garbage. I was too stressed out by the way I was treated and the threats of being punished by FIDE no matter what I do, so I choose to leave before I do anything stupid. Another point worth pointing out, Zurab never asked me to go and change, the conversation consisted of threats, insults, and agressive behavior from Zurab. He was clearly provoking me. I will not appeal anything. I am disgusted by this type of people. I don't want the money. I'm coming back home."

Related videos:

Interview with Anton Kovalyov after he beat Vishy Anand in round 2.1

Anton Kovalyov on advancing to round three

September 11: Update on the Anton Kovalyov incident

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.