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 is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors

Peter B Peter B 9/10/2017 01:18
Where does the dress code say "no shorts"?
loeksnokes loeksnokes 9/10/2017 12:58
Why is nobody above discussing the accusation of the racial slurs?

Given that Kovalyov wore the same attire earlier in the tournament, there really is no excuse for this. As it may in fact be racially motivated, it is even more disgusting. This was not handled well at all by FIDE, who should step in on Kovalyov's behalf, perhaps with some funding and invitations to other tournaments. Also, they do need to address the question of Azmaiparashvili's behaviour: he is taking a high tone for someone who famously bought rating points. Az. may have acted out of racism, and he certainly did not give Kovalyov a chance to fix the trousers issue when they brought it up after having let it go by for three rounds in a row.

Shame on FIDE, Shame on Azmaiparashvili (even if the racism claim is false, he certainly mishandled the dress code issue).
Smellfungus Smellfungus 9/10/2017 12:21
Maybe Rex Sinquefeld should pay off the FIDE thugs, rename it the World Chess Federation, get some billionaire backers and take chess to the level of professional tennis, where it belongs. Make the dress code crystal clear well before the tournament starts and only hire unblemished professional arbiters. This whole episode is shameful. What kind of arbiter would even think of telling a player he has to change pants 5 minutes before his game when evidently nothing was said during the previous two rounds? This is either psychopathy in action, or someone of prominence complained behind the scenes and Zurab was only a lowly pawn carrying out orders.
Mouldywarp Mouldywarp 9/10/2017 12:09
Kovalyov was absolutely right to leave -no-one should have to put up with these arrogant antediluvian self-important idiots.
holyknight holyknight 9/9/2017 11:44
There must have been other players witnessing this incident. The picture taken 11 min. before the start of the round shows David Navara right next to Anton Kovalyov and it seems they were supposed to play right next to each other. It would be interesting to hear Navara's and other witnesses' account. At any rate, very sad for chess in general.
Pionki Pionki 9/9/2017 11:42
Beating Anand on his bad day is not yet a licence to behave like Bobby Fischer. If you want to walk out of a tournament every time someone says something, you'll be walking more than playing. Look at all the champions around you. If you want to be one of them, start dressing like them, and behaving like them. You've got a long way to go. Good luck, kid, with your exams.
sorenbh sorenbh 9/9/2017 11:36
Absolutely ridiculous behavior by the organizers. This has nothing to do with common sense, Gens Una Sumus or the spirit of the chess game.

And the regulations allow Bermuda shorts.

I would have done the same as Mr. Kovalyov but I am not that good a chess player.

Søren Bech Hansen
Copenhagen, Denmark
satman satman 9/9/2017 11:36
Is it true that there's a rule against greasy hair?
It must have come in quite recently else Karpov could never have become World Champion!
Bendigo Bendigo 9/9/2017 11:17
Interesting that the much more important issue of a racial slur was not addressed by ZA. Will there be any action by FIDE on that?
murali100 murali100 9/9/2017 11:16
Poor timing and execution by organizers. He had been wearing shorts for the last 2 rounds. He beat Anand in the last round, can't imagine that none of the organizers noticed him wearing shorts then. They could have told him after the end of the game with a warning.
joe ryan joe ryan 9/9/2017 11:11
Zurab Azmaiprashvili has disgracefully abused and treated a chess player here.

The arbiter only asked the player if it was possible but then Azmai stepped in. Even worse is the video by Azmai, selective avoidance of the truth and further libelling Kovalyov.

ACP should step in here.
mythiclott mythiclott 9/9/2017 11:04
Zurab Azmaiprashvili ....not the first time this clown has caused this kind of trouble.
Sad for chess. There were usual with this guy...much better ways to deal with such a minor issue.
thudandblunder thudandblunder 9/9/2017 11:03
The FIDE dress code rules specifically permit Bermuda Shorts (i.e., knee-length):

Suits, ties, dressy pants, trousers, jeans, long-sleeve or shirt-sleeve dress shirt, dress shirt, alternatively T-shirts or polo, dress shoes, loafers or dressy slip-ons, socks, shoes or sneakers, sport coat, blazer, Bermuda shorts, turtleneck, jacket, vest or sweater. Team uniforms and national costumes clothing.

The rules do not permit:

Beach-wear slips, profanity and nude or semi-nude pictures printed on shirts, torn pants or jeans. holes, denim shorts,
short-shorts, cut-off shorts, gym shorts, unclean clothing, sun glasses, sports caps.

It appears that the arbiter does not understand the difference between shorts and Bermuda shorts and was wrong to threaten Kovalyov with a fine.
malfa malfa 9/9/2017 10:47
And so, once again, GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, the top representative of Georgian mafia in chess, was at its best in order to damage our game. Shame on him and on FIDE!
Igor Freiberger Igor Freiberger 9/9/2017 10:30
Well, there are two versions and I don't know… Wait! Zurab Azmaiparashvili took part of this. The same Zurab who has a long list of incidents, accusations, scandals, and bad behavior acts. In this scenario, I believe in Kovalyov. Azmaiparashvili is known as not a trusty or polite person. And the horrendous T-shirt open in chest he was wearing during the interview is not helping the "professionalism" organizers say to defend.
Aighearach Aighearach 9/9/2017 09:46
The fact is, if he was called a racial slur then they will end up paying him the maximum amount he could have won, they'll probably have to pay the full amount he would have received if he won this tournament and the candidates and the WC.

When part of their actions contain racial prejudice, nothing about their right to set a dress code matters.
Petrosianic Petrosianic 9/9/2017 09:36
@Malcolm Anand is a ONE time World Champion, as previously discussed. But whether one or five, you should be ashamed of yourself for thinking that the standards for Kovalyvov are different because of his performance in the tournament.
Danna Danna 9/9/2017 09:20
I think Anton Kovalyov is a nice grandmaster and why should he not play with his short pants ?
Sgoerli Sgoerli 9/9/2017 09:10
As far as Azma is concerned, I do believe he had absolutely no right to interfere in this issue. He is the organizer, and not the arbiter. The roles are very well defined in the regulation (and Azma shall know it well !). Only the arbiter can state whether a player follows properly the rules or not (and there are precise way of appeal if a player believes an arbiter took a wrong decision). If an organizer starts to interfere in all and everything, like Arma seems (according to his own words) to have done, all abuses become possible. As a consequence, Azma should at least be blames, and officially bu FIDE (if FIDE want to have his own rule followed).

As far as Kovalyov is concerned, his reaction was probably not the most appropriate. His way to express his disagreement was wrong. But he was also put in a situation where there was probably not really any good way to react. And those who have created this situation can only be blamed, and clearly did not act in respect of "gens una sumus" !
Logos Logos 9/9/2017 08:52
I am sad by the way Kovalyov was treated. Azmaiparashvili's behaviour was questionable - there was no need for his aggressive approach. For Kovalyov's side of the story (which should have been covered Sagar Shah), read the following:

Come back home Anton. We are waiting for you with open arms.
MrDobalina MrDobalina 9/9/2017 08:52
i think all the players should boycott tournament until zurab is fired if the accusations are true - zurab should also be forced to publicly apologize. then kovalyov should be able to resume the tourney, so we have a fair tournament without a madman that apparently did not like anand losing so early and decided to live out his frustrations on this very sympathic young grandmaster.
MarriedRhombus MarriedRhombus 9/9/2017 08:46
The racial slur, 'gypsy', that was what made this incident worse than it should have.
bachma1 bachma1 9/9/2017 08:45
This sad incident happened in round 3! what happen if it happens in round 6?
flachspieler flachspieler 9/9/2017 08:34
My 2 cent: Azmaiparashvili with his bully style is not
worth to be a member of the chess players family.
gerando69 gerando69 9/9/2017 08:28
Organizers should have warned him at the beginning of the tournmanent. Azmaiparashvili seems to have acted like a bully. Very disgraceful from him.
MrDobalina MrDobalina 9/9/2017 08:26
the accusation that his opponent told Azmaiparashvili to insult this player is complete and utter garbage. Azmaiparashvili has a history of bullying people. he should be banned if this is true from FIDE and all chess competitions. we dont need people like this in chess.
kyklop kyklop 9/9/2017 08:15
Zurab is a complete bully. He should have been kicked out of FIDE many years ago. This guy has absolutely no sense of right and wrong, he is just a moron. How can anybody let this mafioso arrange a World Cup. Its simply completely crazy.
TommyCB TommyCB 9/9/2017 08:06
Speaking of dress codes, I think Zurab Azmaiparashvili looks sexy with that hairy chest showing.
geraldsky geraldsky 9/9/2017 08:06
Zurab Azmaiparashvili is no longer fit to do organizing. He should be fired from FIDE as the one to be blame here for creating scandal. This is a very sad experience for Kovalyov.
geraldsky geraldsky 9/9/2017 07:48
Wearing shorts in a chess tournament is not nice. It's better to wear hoods and hijab than shorts. Mr. Zurab Azmaiparasvili was the reason why Gm Kovalyov did not play and went home. It is Mr. Zurab A. was to be blamed here as well. According to Kovalyov that Mr. Zurab was so rude to him and treated him badly.
CostaMaison3 CostaMaison3 9/9/2017 07:43
The FIDE regulations neither give the authority to the arbiters to judge the player's dress nor specify any specific dress code.

Since it is difficult to specify all the allowed or not allowed dresses, it would be better to amend the regulations to authorise the arbiters to assess the suitability of the players dress.
chotokusen chotokusen 9/9/2017 07:39
On a side note, Zurab, who has made a fortune out of chess, feels comfortable wearing 5$ t-shirt and doesn't feel like he is damaging the image of chess. Poor personality and ignorance, as simple as that.
chotokusen chotokusen 9/9/2017 07:35
Zurab and Dalega should be immediately kicked out of chess. Their behavior and little education, combined with poor command of English, is damaging the image of chess. These two destroyed years of hard work and the dreams of this young talent. It's sad, really sad when people like Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Tomasz Dalega destroy the careers of talented young players. There should be no place for them in the world of chess.
mchessmax mchessmax 9/9/2017 07:32
I'm sorry for GM Anton Kovalyov. Why the organizers alowed him play in the previous rounds in the same dress, and no in this one? He is a grate chess player, and correct in maners and respect for the oponent. I'm sorry that he was so annoyed by the situation. I wish that what happened today helps for next tournaments and players, with more details in tournament rules.
rokko rokko 9/9/2017 07:30
These "long" shorts were no further away from "business casual" than the sporting jackets of Wei Yi or Ivanchuk who look as if they came right out of the gym.

I think this kind of scandal for a trifle makes look chess much more ridiculous than some less well-dressed player.

I watched Zurab's interview. He will now go to punish the arbiters who did not exclude Kovalyov in rounds 1 and 2. What a power junkee!

I hope that Anand will come back (since he only lost because he was shocked by his opponent's clothes) and beat Rodhstein.
Malcom Malcom 9/9/2017 07:10
Very well said "Mountshark". This stinks of corruption the whole way!
anonimous anonimous 9/9/2017 06:45
The new addendum about the racial slurs is obviously an extremely serious accusation and if FIDE is a serious organization, Azmai's career should be over.

But even before that, this whole "shorts accident" is just ridiculous. Since Kovalyov was allowed to play in shorts in rounds 1 and 2, there is no plausible reason to claim that since round 3 that's not acceptable anymore. The arbiters and the organization screwed up even before Azmai's total collapse.
Jason Lohner Jason Lohner 9/9/2017 06:24
Once again FIDE embarrasses itself with idiotic decisions
Alekhines-Cat Alekhines-Cat 9/9/2017 06:24
This is a scandal. Poor Anton.
Andrea Mori Andrea Mori 9/9/2017 06:21
Good grief! If you want to wear shorts, at least get a stylish pair. Those, combined with that t-shirt, look just horrendous. Moreover, if you wear shorts, never ever wear socks! He deserved to lose his game just for that.