A few days ago, I published the official statement from GM Anton Kovalyov about the World Cup incident. You can read it below:
A few clarifications, hopefully my last ones since I don’t like to repeat myself.
1. The actual timing:
Everyday I would come about 15 minutes before the game. I was one of the very few players to do so, sometimes it was just me and maybe one or two players more. I wouldn’t just sit, I would go in circles around the playing hall before and during the game. I was seen by several arbiters and even had a few eye contacts with some of them. Really, if you are an arbiter that is doing their job you must be blind not to see me. That day I made an exception and came about 10 minutes before the game. Mr. Deluga happened to be standing close to my board. He immediately asked me to change my shorts, his tone wasn’t the nicest but he choose the right words to do so. Zurab later on approached me about 5 minutes before the game.
2. The color confusion:
I did NOT MAKE ANY CLAIM! I thought I’m playing with white and asked Mr. Deluga to check. While he went to check I talked to other arbiters who confirmed to me that I’m playing with black. I said it’s OK and proceeded to explain why I confused the color. I didn’t find the actual color pairing anywhere and I didn’t receive an email from the organization as it happened before my game with Anand. So as reference I used the pairing tree where my name is above Rodshtein’s and due to the pattern of this meaning that the player above plays with white, I assumed so. Anyways I told the arbiters that this is not a problem. And it really wasn’t, since I already knew what Rodshtein plays with white, and although I didn’t seriously prepare for this, those that know me, know that I have experience and really like playing against the Catalan opening. So again, for those that don’t understand, playing with black that day was not an issue for me! I talked a little with the arbiters, one of them mentioned an anecdote that this has happened to Kamsky once, and that many players make the same confusion. Then I was approached by Mr. Deluga, he showed me the official pairing and I told him it’s OK and we didn’t speak again.
3. The threats from Zurab:
When Zurab approached me he didn’t give me any warning. He assured me that I will be punished by FIDE. At that point I was shocked since I was not given any warning before. This was a huge shock for me before the game, since I don’t know what “punished by FIDE” means. Will I be banned from playing chess? Will I get kicked out from the tournament? Will I be stripped away from my monetary prize? All of this questions crossed my mind. I knew that Zurab is the organizer of the tournament and an influential figure in FIDE, and in a prepotent way he yelled that he could do whatever he wants. So even after this threat I wasn’t sure if there was point in playing my game. It was clear to me that I wasn’t wanted there and Zurab wanted to destabilize me before my game.
4. The use of the racial slur:
Zurab used the word “gypsy” when referring to me multiple times. First he said that I look like one. Later on, when I inquired why he was so rude to me he did indeed respond “BECAUSE YOU’RE A GYPSY” and I believe he repeated this again when I was standing there in shock thinking what action to take. This was all done in a very condescending tone. If you don’t know what somebody means when they call you a “gypsy” in a condescending tone and yet you claim it’s not a big deal, then I recommend you informing yourself better.
5. The tone of the “conversation”:
Zurab was yelling at me at all times during our “conversation”, if you can call it that way. He “talked” to me in a very prepotent and condescending tone. I remained respectful till I couldn’t take it anymore, and before doing anything impulsive I thought about the consequences and decided to leave. It was clear that Zurab was provoking me, it was obvious that I was upset and he kept repeating the same threats and insults. There were some people in the playing hall at that time, if you heard something, please speak up.
6. My shorts:
I don’t know what category my shorts enter. They were a gift from my mother who does her best in buying good quality clothes. I felt very comfortable using this shorts, and to my standards this are some really nice shorts, but I’m not the type of person that follows fashion and is concerned about it. In no way I pretended to offend anybody using this shorts. As I already mentioned I even asked in the previous world cup if what I was wearing was OK (I was wearing other shorts, but they were certainly not better) and I was said that it’s fine. In the previous world cup I also made it till round 3, beating former World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Continental Champion Sandro Mareco, and eventually losing to the famous super GM Fabiano Caruana.
If my shorts were actually a problem I should have been warned and I would have taken a cab to the mall and bought pants during the free day. It was really not a problem. And what happened in the previous world cup proves that I was willing to cooperate. To my understanding I was dressed decently, but I do come from a humble family, where moral values are put way above superficial things, and that’s something I’m proud of and will not tolerate being shamed of. I was later on told that the rules about the dress code are vague and the way I was dressed was not specifically prohibited. Even in this case I WAS WILLING TO COOPERATE.
7. My hygiene:
Anybody that knows me, and/or has lived with me knows that I’m a clean person that showers everyday, and more than once. Claiming that because I wear shorts I’m probably a dirty person is a fallacy and if you don’t know how I am, I recommend keeping such assumptions to yourself. Otherwise, what you’re doing is wrong and I’m sure you will be outraged the same way as I am when hearing such nonsense about yourself.
8. My decision:
It seems that some people don’t understand that I took the hard way out of this situation. To keep my dignity I declined winning several thousands dollars that would of helped my family’s economical situation significantly, and instead I put them and myself in a hard situation since we lost about 3000 dollars in this affair, and this is a lot of money for us. Zurab might be used to treat with people that swallow their pride in order to make some dollars. I’m not one of that people. Dignity is way above any money and fame, if you don’t see this I recommend you to do some soul searching.
I hope this is my last input about this situation and I can carry on with my daily life without getting distracted. So before you post anything please think twice and inform yourself well.