This one, for a change of pace, does not come out of the pages of Wired.
But it's just as weird.
So let's turn the microphone over to the great chess blogger Dana Mackenzie: Scandal Ruins World Cup’s Best Day
everybody is talking about the stupid dispute that caused the Canadian player, Anton Kovalyov, to forfeit his game and withdraw from the tournament — all over a pair of shorts.
Probably most of my readers are already familiar with the sad details, but for those who haven’t heard yet, these seem to be the facts:
- Kovalyov showed up for his game against Maxim Rodshtein wearing a pair of shorts. He had worn the same shorts for his previous four games. Yes, apparently he only packed this one pair of shorts for a potentially month-long chess tournament. Cue jokes about chess players’ dressing habits.
- The chief arbiter spoke to him and told him that the players’ dress code (which is in a legal contract they sign before the tournament) requires more dignified wear. He told him to go back to his room and change.
- Kovalyov went back to his room but never reappeared. His opponent played one move (1. d4) and won by forfeit.
Even from these facts, it seems to me that the FIDE approach was very heavy-handed. From a legal point of view it seems to me that they have greatly weakened their case by allowing Kovalyov to play four games (!) in the offending garment. The arbiter said that nobody noticed earlier. Come on! If it’s a rule, then enforce it from the beginning. If it’s not enforced, then it’s not really a rule.
Kovalyov is actually Ukrainian, playing as a Canadian citizen, but living in Brownsville, Texas, where he studies computer science and got a chess scholarship!.
Kovalyov later wrote about this on his Facebook page, then tried to delete what he wrote, then tried to close his Facebook account, then re-opened his Facebook account, then wrote about it some more.
More at The Guardian, where we find that the REAL issue may have involved an ethnic slur:
Azmaiparashvili refused to back down, said Kovalyov. “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,” he said.
He continued: “So imagine this, the round is about to start, I’m being bullied by the organiser 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.”
Assuming that is what actually happened, it's a shame, but clearly he made the right decision.
The internets took to calling this "shortsgate" for a little while.
But it has now passed from public interest.