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.

ChessBase 15 - Mega package ChessBase 15 - Mega package

Find the right combination! ChessBase 15 program + new Mega Database 2019 with 7.6 million games and more than 70,000 master analyses. Plus ChessBase Magazine (DVD + magazine) and CB Premium membership for 1 year!


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 Shah 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 news outlet in the country related to chess.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors

fighter1 fighter1 9/9/2017 06:21
Anton Kovalyov appears to be a good person. He speaks clear, good thinking after the games of chess. He's a modest one.
It's not easy to be a chessplayer, but every chessplayer knows a rule:"Gens una sumus". Unfortunally every organizer knows"money" rule and all they say it's for us. This is the world of today. But in time young chessplayers will change that. This is the case!
parselmouth parselmouth 9/9/2017 06:16
Kind of like Jay walking, only time you enforce it is when it's a problem: Safety in the case of jay walking and distraction in the case of chess. If the clothes smelled bad, yeah, warn the player to change. If it sparkles, change to take the sparks away. This is not secondary school. Ivanchuk once wore a medical mask in a Moscow tournament...probably not part of the dress code ;)
Malcom Malcom 9/9/2017 06:14
FIDE is trying to say they did not see him dressed like that when he was playing 5 TIME CHAMPION VISHY ANAND...What do you take us for!? You might be "superior"chess players and you might think other people are not as logical (and you would be dead wrong!) but to think we believe such crap that you did not see his attire in the 2 previous rounds...YOU ARE BEYOND DISGUSTING!!! Just admit you took this decision for very precise reasons one which may possibly be the strong relations Maxim Rodshtein has with FIDE personal! Come on...stop taking us for idiots! You just ruined a young man's passion for the game he loves and probably lost a true talent forever. Oh and again Canadian Federation just stand by and do nothing not like we need him at the Olympiads or anything!
rankerox rankerox 9/9/2017 06:00
Fide forced women to wear hijab but is offended by a young talented player who weares shorts. Very nice !
Malcom Malcom 9/9/2017 06:00
Ok I am outraged! How can the Canadian Chess Association just stand by as one of its proteges has just made chess history by beating a 5 time world champion and be treated in such an egregious way! If they had such a problem with his dressing they should have told him WAY before and at a more proper moment! How can they expect the young man to go get changed if he can't and if he is trying to win himself a year's salary in the next few days! I understand a dress code but is it more important than the integrity of sport!? Not like he was wearing anything racist or abusive or opinionated...he was wearing a damn pair of shorts you psychos! As for losing sponsors; yes you are right; ALL the Canadian or freedom of liberal expression country sponsors should PULL OUT of FIDE events... this is a huge mark on our beautiful game and it is being swept under the rug because Mr. Anton Kovalyov is not a house-hold name....YET! Shame, and Rodshtein to be smiling shows you are happy of this outcome because you know you were not going to win. Double shame! But what gets to me more is here in Canada the bickering between FQE (Québec Chess Federation) and the Canadian one means no one will most probably lay claim to helping out Anton. A pride for us chess aficionados who know a real pure talent when they see one. I am appalled right now!
Jimjam Jimjam 9/9/2017 05:58
Let me see if I've got this right:
1. FIDE rules actually allow Bermuda shorts to be worn as acceptable attire.
2. Kovalyov wore Bermuda shorts his first 4 games without any comment, complaint etc.
3. Nothing was said to him about his attire until moments before his 5th game at which point he was threatened with financial penalty for wearing the very same Bermuda shorts he'd worn the previous games.
4. He reportedly had no other lower body clothing with him.
No wonder he didn't return. What a goon show! FIDE shoots itself in the foot once again. Azmaiparashvili comes off looking like a clown. It would be nice if Kovalyov's chess federation intervened on his behalf, not that FIDE would do anything or admit the error. Kovalyov will no doubt choose to concentrate his efforts on his computer science studies after this experience with a world class FIDE event and we lose another young rising chess talent.
Pieces in Motion Pieces in Motion 9/9/2017 05:40
He defeats one of the best players of the game and refuses to be treated like crap. Well done by Kovalyov. His biggest crime is being too successful. This is forever gonna be a stain on FIDE and Georgian Chess.
rokko rokko 9/9/2017 05:36
Rodhstein should play Anand as Kovalyov's win should be cancelled for the same reasons.

In my opinion, the dress code is certainly debatable (does not Ivanchuk wear a sporting attire?!) but send somebody away without warning in round 3 when he dressed similarly in rounds 1 and 2 is absolutely arbitrary and ridiculous.

This is the kind of thing that might make Kovalyov give up professional chess and concentrate on his studies.
macauley macauley 9/9/2017 05:35
There are interesting points under discussion, but let's keep the conversation civil. Thanks!
MrDobalina MrDobalina 9/9/2017 05:11
"aristocratic game" lol. chess is a DEMOCRATIC game now, whether you like it or not. and while there were some aristocrats that did goodthings it is completely idiotic to label aristocratic as something to aspire to.

Here is the proposal for FIDE dress code by the FIDE Vice President, Ms. Beatriz Marinello, clearly stating BERMUDA SHORTS ARE OK:

3a The following is acceptable for men players, captains, head of delegation.

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.
TMMM TMMM 9/9/2017 04:58
Ok the addendum clarifies that they did not warn him before, and they would have told him before R1 as well if they had noticed. It is unfortunate to let him know so late before the game, but then again Kovalyov could have known he was taking risks by showing up in shorts when most others are in suits or other formal clothing. (And if they had told him before R1, then they could not have told him sooner either as they did not know he would wear those clothes.)
wittgenstein wittgenstein 9/9/2017 04:44
Mr. Kovalyov, IMHO behaved very childshilly. Typical behavior of a generation that thinks oneself as the center of the world and whose ego can not admit frustrations. Childsh onipotence going through adulthood. In this particular case (and look, I am not at all a fan of FIDE nor of Mr. Azmaiprashivilli, with the excepton of his beaultiful victory over Karpov in 1981), Fide acted very professionally.
IMHO, Chess is an aristocratic game and one should respect it and dress accordingly. If I were a Sponsor, I would like my brand to be associated with class, beauty, quality and harmony. Sorry to use these words, but not with a Funk party like ambiance. In resume, IMHO, FIDE acted perfectly.
kingfisher99 kingfisher99 9/9/2017 04:41
What a shame.I think anton kovalyov should learn to control his temper.
daftarche daftarche 9/9/2017 04:28
both sides could have shown some compromise here. sad.
MrDobalina MrDobalina 9/9/2017 04:19
Tbilisi Weather:
28°C, Wind S at 13 km/h, 38% Humidity

yes, what a bad decision to wear shorts at these temperatures lol
MrDobalina MrDobalina 9/9/2017 04:16
in the proposal for the dress code it was also stated that BERMUDA SHORTS are allowed lol. nice arbiters lol, dont even know their own proposals by FIDE.
reske reske 9/9/2017 04:16
We all know that money rules the world. But if it is all about sponsors and their longings, it turns chess as a primarily brain sports to a poor game. Why not respect the player's performance over the board and the spirit they put into the fight? Why not admit them the freedom to choose their own clothing as long as it is not a sign of a really bad taste? The listed examples in the regulations do not necessarily exclude shorts that reach over the knees. You cannot compare them to greasy hair. In my view shorts for a player like Mr Kovalyov do not look unprofessional. In addition it seems to me contra bona fide to accept them for two rounds and only then intervene. It may be another issue for sponsored players rated over 2700 to undergo stricter rules.
On the other hand I do not know why Mr Kovalyov didn't show up. I hope he had another pair of trousers in his suitcase. After all, regarding his extraordinary success so far it seem exaggerated to punish him for the dress code with a loss of a crucial game.
MrDobalina MrDobalina 9/9/2017 04:14
one more thing: the guy apparently ONLY has these trousers. you see him on his way to the taxi with a small backpack and wearing his trousers. this guy DOES NOT HAVE A PAIR OF LONG TROUSERS. he was probably too ashamed to admit this and simply could not do what the arbiter asked of him. the arbiter should have considered this and asked him after the FIRST round. because of a silly dress code rule they ruined a big chance for this guy who beat anand last round. they could have just let him play this round and AFTER ask him to get some long trousers for next round.
MrDobalina MrDobalina 9/9/2017 04:06
yeah really sensitive organizers lol. how about these clowns ask him the rounds before to wear long trousers? and maybe they could have done that at the end of the round and not five minutes before a very important game starts for this young fellow?

correct would have been this: FIRST round ask the guy politely AFTER the game to please wear long trousers according to silly rule the next round. nobody gets hurt by him wearing shorts at the table.

problem solved. INSTEAD they ask him to change (maybe he ONLY has this shorts and would have needed to buy long trousers) FIVE minutes before super important game. especially annoying as he has been playing like this the last two rounds.

arbiter should get fired for ruining this chess tournament for this young man.

if you have a dress code - this should be enforced sensibly from tournament day one. not like this.

no other sports, like esports and backgammon etc has stupid dresscode like this. chess is being played by people of all cultures and ages. to implement a dress code like this is stupid in the first place. if you play in some superhumid place and have to wear long trousers it is super insensible. you can not compare chess to snooker. snooker is an old english sport that has been played in clubs for a long time and thus their dress code makes sense. chess never had a similar dress code and it is not sensible to enforce something like this. in fact i remember playing chess when smoking was still allowed which was terrible.

but like i said the main culprit is the arbiter who apparently handled the situation very badly. he should have informed the player at the end of the last round to wear other trousers and should have allowed him to play a last time like this and be able to buy trousers after the end of the round.
tipau tipau 9/9/2017 04:00
Sorry, I meant world top 20 not 2700.
tipau tipau 9/9/2017 03:56
In this case I understand FIDE's position but taking the moral high ground always sounds ridiculous coming from Azmaiprashvili, who is infamous for buying rating points at Strumica in 1995 to get over 2700.
kosuu kosuu 9/9/2017 03:42
I support the player. The way the organizers communicated this issue and the timing is terrible. Knowing that the player came with this attire in earlier rounds, this could have been conveyed amicably to the player at a non-critical time so that he needn't be insulted when the round is about to be started.

Note, what one person thinks as appropriate dressing is absolutely personal and subjective. It's the officials who should handle this matter amicably so no one gets offended.

Unfortunately, this is organisational failure here. Wish some common sense prevailed.
TMMM TMMM 9/9/2017 03:20
It would be good to get more information on this though. Did the organizers explicitly stated what is meant by proper attire, and did they remind players that they will be punished for not following this rule here? And did Kovalyov get warned after round 2, and before round 3?
maac2002 maac2002 9/9/2017 03:16
wittgenstein wittgenstein 9/9/2017 03:14
In this aspect, IMHO, FIDE is absolutelly right! In Life, you should not act as there is only you in the world. Dressing improperly means bad not only to you but to the whole image of Chess ! An example to be followed on this regard: Bobby Fischer, who from a very early point in his carreer, began to dress very classy. Thumbs up for FIDE on this acident!
TMMM TMMM 9/9/2017 03:14
Although it's sad for Kovalyov, I also understand the position taken by the organizers. Take snooker as an example - people don't wear shorts there, and it makes snooker look much more professional than e.g. darts. A simple thing of a (slight) dresscode at the top gives the sport a much more professional appearance to the outside world (in the media).