I’m writing this blog out of rage for the injustice that was just suffered by Grandmaster Anton Kovalyov.
Anton just forfeited from the FIDE World Cup after an incident involving his clothing choices, despite having worn the same clothing for the first two rounds without issue. Below is a brief snippet of his post game statement:
“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.”
This is what happens when you allow well known cheaters and unethical people to have such major involvement in your chess events. They end up using racial slurs to intimidate and harass the players.
If you go to the following link, which is titled “cheating in chess”, you can read about how Azmaiparashvili created a tournament out of thin air in order to reach the chess elite. He gained 50 ELO points in a fabricated tournament with 3 other players. The tournament was a sextuple round robin, in which everyone faced everyone else 6 times. Azmaiparashvili finished with 16/18, and another player rated 2400, Rolando Kutirov, finished with 11.5/18, enough to get his GM title. Meanwhile the two 2500+ rated GM’s, Kurajica and Rashkovsky, finished with 4.5 and 4 points out of 18.
Here’s a link to the crosstable and the fabricated games.
Here is a quote from Veselin Topalov, for why he withdrew from the Grand Prix cycle in 2017.
“The last degradation of the FIDE happened during the Opening Ceremony of the World Blitz and Rapid Championship 2017 in Qatar. The person appointed by FIDE to open the Championship was no other than Zurab Azmaiparashvili, ECU President with a large record of unethical and even criminal acts during his career. These unethical acts he committed both as a player and as a FIDE official include buying an entire tournament in Strumica 95, and the case of sexual harassment in Mexico in 2007.”
So to sum it all up, we have a guy who is well known by everyone to be a massive cheater, was thrown out of a hotel in 2007 for sexual harassment, and has committed many other unethical acts during his career in chess, and yet somehow he is named as an official for the FIDE World Cup?
There is nothing less surprising than hearing that he called Kovalyov a gypsy on multiple occasions, because this is how Azmaiparashvili behaves. He says and does whatever he wants without any repercussion. He made up a tournament to reach the world elite and later went on to become FIDE Vice President.
What should happen now? This is a difficult question, but one in which I believe in my answer.
The top players in the world should band together and refuse to play until Azmaiparashvili is removed from his role as organizer and is forced to leave the premises. I admit it’s very unlikely that this will occur, as the elite chess community has a rich history of turning a blind eye to the corruption and greed that is so evident at the top of the FIDE food chain. It’s understandable, they love chess and FIDE does provide them generous sums of money to play at the highest level. Is it really worth it to risk your reputation and career for something like this? While I think that the answer is yes, I’m not going to hold it against everyone for staying quiet and continuing to play chess under the auspices of known cheaters and bullies.
I also hope that organizers around the world show Kovalyov some love and give him invites to a few major tournaments. When one of the top players in the world is treated in such an unfair manner by a top FIDE official, the chess community should band together to make sure that this player knows that we don’t think that what happened was okay. Good for Anton for not debasing himself and playing in a tournament where he was treated in such a manner. He could have won a lot of money, but his dignity was worth more to him.
Meanwhile Azmaiparashvili should be asked to resign from any official role he has in the chess world. This guy has been a cheater for decades now, it’s getting boring already. Just go away and keep getting crushed by me online.