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.
“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.”
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.
“They were too tight,” he said.
More than the dress code kerfuffle, however, Kovalyov said it was the manner in which he was treated that led him to walk out.
“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,” he said. “But instead I was treated like garbage.”
Kovalyov said he has no plans to file an appeal with the FIDE over the matter.
“I am disgusted by this type of people,” he said. “I’m coming back home.”
Kovalyov, who was named a grandmaster in 2008, had won his first two rounds of the tournament that runs through Sept. 27. He defeated Varuzhan Akobian in the first round before upsetting former World Champion Viswanathan Anand in the second. Kovalyov was set to face Maxim Rodshtein in the third round before he forfeited.
Read more about chess: