10 September 2017


The beginning of the third round of the World Cup as reported by Eteri Kublashvili

The first game of the third round began with a scandal. Anton Kovalyov, whose opponent was Maxim Rodshtein, turned up to the match in his chequered shorts, as per usual. Only a few minutes before the start the Canadian was approached by the Chief Arbiter Tomasz Delega, who asked him to respect the dress-code and change his attire. The sportsman replied that he had no other attire, that he went through the whole tournament dressed like this and, furthermore, his playing the previous World Cup in such attire had not lead to any complaints.

It should be pointed out immediately that there is an item in the Regulations regarding Recommendations for organization of top-level competitions  hat mentions proper attire of competitors, but it nonetheless does not contain the key word “shorts”. Nor does it contain the word “sanctions”, which are so dearly loved by the Russian people.

After this conversation, Kovalyov told the Chief Arbiter that there may have been a mistake in the draw, since he believed that he would be playing white.  While Delega went off to check the colours, Anton was approached by the Chairman of the Appeals Committee Zurab Azmaiparashvili who repeated the request regarding proper attire. In all likelihood, the level of emotional intensity increased and the subsequent conversation included fines, improper and “gypsy-like” attire of the player, after which Kovalyov departed the playing hall in disappointment and did not return. After the prescribed 15 minutes passed, Maxim Rodshtein was awarded victory. I can’t say that the Israeli grandmaster lit up with happiness.

Zurab Azmaiparashvili commented on the situation to Chess-news.ru: “Kovalyov refused to change shorts for proper attire and I said that maximum monetary sanctions would be applied to him, which I will personally fight for.”

After a few hours Kovalyov checked out of his room and left the tournament, refusing to comment on the situation. He did not submit an appeal or collect his winnings. Shortly afterwards, Susan Polgar published a statement by the player in which he outlined his own view of the incident, gave his opinion on the whole situation and expressed sadness at how everything was carried out. He also pointed out that he did not bring formal trousers because he gained weight and could no longer fit in them. Nor did he imagine that shorts would be inappropriate for the World Cup, since no one warned him.

At the end of the day a meeting was organised to discuss the incident.

To be honest, I prefer men in suits rather than shorts and I think that for these types of competitions players must prepare from a media viewpoint as well as a sporting viewpoints. Okay, the rules contain no specific dress code, but what about the status of the event? It is possible that this is merely a feminine viewpoint, but it nonetheless has a right to be heard.

However, it seems to me that Anton should have been notified about this during free time so that he would have had time to buy some other clothes. But, in the prelude to a big game, such a request would have been like thunder during a clear sky. The players are already exhausted nervously.

Inadvertently one remembers Kasparov’s joke about the match with Short, but this was no moment for laughter.

Tomasz Delega claims that, during previous competitions, he did not see Anton in inappropriate attire, so this question was never raised. Admittedly, there were too many players for each one to be distinguished, but Anton did beat Anand himself. In shorts.

Incidentally, about the Tiger of Madras; what does he think about this departure from the tournament of the man who beat himself? It would be interesting to know his opinion.

In light of the aforementioned events, even Magnus Carlsen’s defeat by Bu Xiangzhi was of secondary importance. The report for the sporting aspect of the tournament will be published after the end of the third round of the World Cup.

Therefore, I recommend that our readers listen to a little music.

Angus Young made shorts his trademark.