Once again, the game of chess manages to make into the mainstream media for all the very wrong reasons, as the game’s governing body, FIDE, somehow managed to contrive a minor dress code violation in the World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia, into a full-scale major crisis. And with it, previous round hero Anton Kovalyov, of Canada, sensationally stormed out of the $1.6 million knockout event at the weekend.
In round 3, Kovalyov had turned up wearing the same beach-wear stripy shorts he wore not only in the previous round when he knocked out Indian five-time former world champion Vishy Anand, but also in the opening round. But 10 minutes before the start of his game, he was accused of breaking the dress code imposed by FIDE. Kovalyov said in his defense that he didn’t have any long trousers, claiming a recent weight gain meant they were all too tight to fit.
It was then that FIDE vice president and head of the European Chess Union Zurab Azmaiparashvili – who admittedly has a very short fuse and no stranger to controversy, and that’s putting it mildly – intervened and a blazing row ensued, and it’s further claimed he threatened that FIDE would be heavily fining the Ukrainian-born Canadian. Following this, Kovalyov walked out and forfeited his match with Maxim Rodshtein of Israel, claiming that he had been “racially abused” and “bullied”. And posting a statement on Facebook, Kovalyov claimed he walked out on the biggest payday of his career, not because of his shorts, but because “[Zurab] was very aggressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur ‘gypsy’ to insult me.”
And later posting a statement on Facebook on why he walked out on the biggest payday of his career, Kovalyov claimed it was not because of the sartorial choice of his shorts, but because “[Zurab] was very aggressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur ‘gypsy’ to insult me.”
In defence of the FIDE dress code, if the tournament organisers wish to enforce this to present a better image of the game for the sponsors and the media, then they have every right to do so – but there are diplomatic ways of doing this, and they certainly shouldn’t be picking an argument with a player just 10 minutes before a crucial game is due to start.
There was also a dress code violation last month at the new Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis – but the handling between the two incidents couldn’t have been more different. There, GCT Chief Arbiter Chris Bird very diplomatically waited till the game had finished before taking the player aside in private to point out what was expected regarding the dress code. There were no further problems with the player involved.
Amazingly, the blazing row and walk-out overshadowed what should have been the news of the day, with World Champion Magnus Carlsen suffering his own “short circuit” on the board, as he miscalculated a key variation and unexpectedly lost to China’s Bu Xianngzhi. And after losing with White, Carlsen could make no headway with Black in the next game, as the Norwegian top seed and favourite lost his first match in 10 years to sensationally crash out of the World Cup.
And Carlsen wasn’t just the only high-profile casualty of the round, as out also now go Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura without making it to the tiebreaks. And in today’s tiebreaks, also out is American hopeful Fabiano Caruana and his fellow countrymen, Alexander Onischuk and Aleks Lenderman, leaving only Wesley So now as the sole player left flying the stars and stripes.
(Photo) Carlsen crashes out to Bu | © Anastasia Karlovich official site
The brackets showing the full results for round three and those now left contesting the final-16 is available at the official site by clicking here.
GM Magnus Carlsen – GM Bu Xiangzhi
FIDE World Cup, (3.1)
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 The Bishop’s Opening is one of the oldest opening lines in chess. After laying dormant at the top level for the best part of a century, Bent Larsen revived it again in the 1960s and 70s. Although it can have a separate agenda, more often than not it is used as a conduit into the Giuoco Piano, as happens in this game, transposing into a Two Knight’s Defence. 2…Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Bb3 d6 7.c3 Be6 8.Re1 Qd7 9.Nbd2 Rab8!?N Not only a novelty but also a subtle little move that prepares Black to push in the center with …d5 – the idea is that, once the d5 push comes, Black wants to prevent the very awkward pin with Bb3-a4 (threatening Nxe5) with the timely …b5. 10.Bc2 d5!? This steers the game into a sort of Marshall Attack set-up – but just how dangerous is it going to be if White takes the e5 pawn? 11.h3 Carlsen is wary of the attacking possibilities coming from Black if 11.exd5 Bxd5 12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.Rxe5 Bd6 14.Re1 Ng4 – so with h3, he’s preventing the possibility of …Ng4, and at the same time perhaps threatening Nf3-g5 himself, so… 11…h6 12.exd5 The proof is in the pudding. 12…Nxd5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.Rxe5 Bd6 15.Re1 Now if you really want to stop the coming sacrifice on h3, then there’s the trickier – and perhaps better – option of 15.Re4!? Nf6 (The Re4 cuts out the sacrifice, as now if 15…Bxh3 16.gxh3 Qxh3 17.Nf3 Rbe8 18.Rh4! Qe6 19.d4 and White is well on top.) 16.Re3 and Black has a big nothing for his pawn, as White will easily continue with Ne4 or Nc4 and unravel his pieces. 15…Bxh3?!? I simply can’t believe Black has enough compensation here for the piece – but if not this, then what, as Bu is surely lost if Carlsen has simply won the e5 pawn. 16.gxh3 Qxh3 17.Nf1 Black has a forced draw after 17.Qf3 with 17…Bh2+ 18.Kh1 Bg3+ 19.Kg1 Bh2+ etc – but Carlsen wants more. 17…Rbe8 18.d4 Left to his own devices, White will play Be4-g2 and safeguard his king – but Black has a say in the matter! 18…f5! The only viable move that keeps Black in the game. If Bu gets …f4 in, then Carlsen really will have problems with his king – so his next moves are forced. 19.Bb3 c6 20.f4 White simply has to stop Black playing …f4 – and with that completed, all he needs do now is carefully unravel his pieces to emerge with a big material plus. Can it really be all that simple? 20…Kh7 Getting the king out of the pin and leaving Carlsen wondering what to do about defending the f-pawn – if the f-pawn falls, then Black could well be winning. 21.Bxd5? It’s a difficult position, what with White’s king being exposed to the elements, and your gut instinct here is telling you to exchange pieces to lessen the attacking possibilities. But this was a big mistake from Carlsen, who has seriously miscalculated the position. Instead, after the correct 21.Re2! threatening Rh2 (and covering from unwanted checks with Rg2) that is immediately thrown up by the omnipresent engine, Black has trouble showing he has full compensation for the sacrificed piece. Now, Black is more or less forced into 21…Qg4+ (There’s nothing for Black in 21…Nxf4? 22.Rh2 Qg4+ 23.Qxg4 fxg4 24.Bxf4 Rxf4 25.Rd1 and White’s extra piece will eventually win the day.) 22.Rg2 Qxd1 23.Bxd1 Bxf4 24.c4! Re1 25.Bd2 Be3+ 26.Rf2! Bxd2 27.Rxd2 Nf6 28.Re2 Rxe2 29.Bxe2 and White has a big winning advantage. 21…cxd5 22.Re3 Rxe3 23.Bxe3 g5! A powerful move, and one that was likely missed by Carlsen in his assessment of the position when he took the knight on d5. The point is that White can’t play 24.fxg5 as 24…f4! and Black has a storming attack on the White king that can’t be stopped. And if he doesn’t take on g5, Black will be playing …gxf4 opening a path for Black’s rook to enter the king hunt via the open g-file. 24.Kf2 Carlsen is caught between a rock and a hard place. If 24.fxg5 f4! 25.Qc2+ Rf5! 26.Bf2 Kh8 and the White king is going to get caught in the crossfire of Black’s active pieces. 24…gxf4 25.Qf3 It’s desperation time now for Carlsen – but Bu has too much material in the ending to stop the inevitability of a loss. 25…fxe3+ 26.Nxe3 Qh2+ 27.Kf1 Rg8 The clinical kill was the simple 27…Qxb2 28.Re1 Qxc3 29.Qxd5 Bg3 30.Re2 Qc1+ 31.Kg2 Bb8 and the White king is left dangerously exposed. 28.Qxf5+ Rg6 29.Ke1 h5?! It’s not so much that Bu’s threatening to push his h-pawn up the board, it’s more he wants to create a little escape route for his king from the checks – but in doing so, he gives Carlsen a chance of salvation. Instead, he could have created a safe haven for his king with 29…Kg7! 30.Qd7+ Kh8 31.Qd8+ Kh7 32.Qd7+ Rg7 33.Qf5+ Kh8 34.Qc8+ Rg8 and White has run out of checks while Black has maintained the strong pressure on the White king wandering dazed and confused in no man’s land. 30.Kd1? Carlsen is worried over the double threat of …Bg3+ and …Rg1+ and walks himself right into an even worse scenario. Remarkably, with the inaccuracy from Bu of 29…h5, the world champion has been gifted a lifeline with 30.Rd1! and fails to spot it. It looks dangerous, but it’s all smoke and mirrors from Black, as White has everything covered with lots of repetition chances. Now, if 30…Kh6 31.Qf2! Rg1+ (If 31…Bg3 32.Nf5+ is a draw.) 32.Ke2 and White has all the threats covered and will easily hold the draw. 30…Kh6! Freeing up the rook decides the game. 31.Nc2 Now, if 31.Rc1 Rg1+ 32.Nf1 Qf4! 33.Qe6+ Rg6 34.Qe2 h4 and with White’s pieces all in a muddle, Black’s h-pawn can’t be stopped. 31…h4 32.Ne1 h3 33.Nf3 Qg2 34.Ne1 Qg4+ 35.Qxg4 Rxg4 36.Nf3 Rg1+!! (see diagram) 0-1 And Carlsen resigns. I suppose if you are going to beat the world champion, then you may as well do it with more than just a touch of élan! The point being that 37.Nxg1 h2 38.Kc2 h1Q quickly wins.