Canadian chess player accuses tournament organizer of bullying him over his shorts

Canadian chess player accuses tournament organizer of bullying him over his shorts

Canadian chess grandmaster Anton Kovalyov entered the FIDE World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Saturday wearing the same plaid shorts he wore two years ago at the tournament. But this time, his wardrobe choice caused the 25-year-old trouble after the new tournament organizer, European Chess Union President Zurab Azmaiparashvili, allegedly began bullying the player over his lack of long pants.

Kovalyov leaving the playing hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

 

The argument between Azmaiparashvili and Kovalyov today in the playing hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Arbiter Arild Rimestad stops Kovalyov's clock 15 minutes into the round, Deputy Chief Arbiter Ashot Vardepetyan is behind. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

It's not official yet, but Maxim Rodshtein is the first player to reach round four of the World Cup. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Dress Code Incident At World Cup: Kovalyov Forfeits

“He was very aggressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur ‘gypsy’ to insult me,” Kovalyov wrote on his Facebook page Saturday, hours after he decided to forfeit the tournament to protest his treatment.

“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 [world chess’s governing body], yelled at and racially insulted,” the ethnic Ukrainian continued. “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.”

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.
    Azmaiparashvili said after the tournament that Kovalyov had been warned by the tournament arbiter earlier in the day about his shorts and given the option to change into long pants. Azmaiparashvili said he only got involved when Kovalyov refused ahead of the tournament’s third round of games.   “I don’t care how he played previous World Cups,” Azmaiparashvili told ChessBase.com, confirming he did threaten to lodge a formal complaint to FIDE about Kovalyov if the player still refused to comply. “He don’t like this, and he left, but really I was thinking that he finally understood me and he went to his room to change the pants,” Azmaiparashvili said, adding the two argued about other issues during their altercation as well, including what side of the board Kovalyov was assigned. Under FIDE wardrobe rules, which the World Cup tournament follows, shorts are not expressly prohibited, although players are expected to maintain a “dignified appearance” at all times. “Those with unkempt and greasy hair should be admonished, as well as those wearing old or torn jeans and battered attire generally,” the organization’s handbook states. Kovalyov said he left the tournament and gave no intention of returning, partly because he didn’t bring any pants with him to the tournament because of a recent weight gain. More than the dress code kerfuffle, however, Kovalyov said it was the manner in which he was treated that led him to walk out.
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