CFC President's Letter to FIDE on the Zurab Incident

CFC President Vlad Drkulec has sent an Open Letter to FIDE regarding the treatment of Canadian GM Anton Kovalyov at the 2017 World Cup. 

You can read it below, or download the PDF from this page:

Note: this website does not allow us to fully reproduce the formatting of the letter, which has the picture above positioned after the second paragraph.


An Open Letter to FIDE, from the Chess Federation of Canada regarding the Kovalyov incident at the World Cup. 

Dear Mr. Makropoulos, 

I would like to thank you for your September 15, response to Hal Bond’s protest on behalf of Canadian 

chessplayer Anton Kovalyov on the incident at the World Cup. I would like to preface my remarks by 

saying that I respect you and all you’ve contributed to FIDE and the world of chess. I would also like to 

say that I understand that GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili has made huge contributions to chess organization 

and fundraising and I respect that as well. I am aware of an incident in a previous World Youth Chess 

Championship where he was a voice of reason and was instrumental in resolving a problematic situation 

in favour of a very young Canadian who had made an improper claim of threefold repetition. I would 

certainly not expect nor hope that this current World Cup incident will be that which the Grandmaster 

and President of the ECU will be remembered for. 


The comments made by the president of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov certainly gave hope that some 

measure of justice might be hoped for in this most unfortunate situation and that FIDE recognized the 

seriousness and implications of trying to minimize what happened to Mr. Kovalyov. 

I would ask that we avoid the error of seizing upon some pretext to explain the unexplainable and the 

unconscionable act which took place. An organizer and member of the Appeals Committee intervened 

moments before a competition to distract and insult a Grandmaster who only a few moments before 

became aware that there might be a problem with the way he was dressed. 

[screencap above from YouTube video]


I would like to point out this photograph dated September 7, 2017 where Zurab is himself pictured in 

shorts/capri pants at the same tournament in the presence of Magnus Carlsen. The photograph came 

from the Russian sports news site 

The picture appears to be a frame grab from the youtube video at the following location which shows the whole incident in context. 


Any random check of coverage on sites like shows that jeans and tee shirts are worn by 

many of the other Grandmasters. One example of this is Grandmaster Aronian’s cat tee shirt, which I 

will not criticize, but which does seem to me to be no less problematic from a FIDE dress code 

perspective than Anton’s attire. If it tries to reframe this episode as a question of a dress code which is 

vaguely formulated and sporadically enforced at this tournament FIDE will make itself look ridiculous 

and hypocritical to all independent observers. If Anton saw Zurab’s shorts at that September 7 th photo 

opportunity in the presence of both the current World Champion and Georgia's former Women's World 

Champion, and remembering that there were no warnings or complaints from Arbiters before or after 

any of the previous four games when he had worn those pants at this World Cup, Anton could be 

forgiven for not anticipating that there would be a problem if he wore them again for a fifth game. 

The future for chess in Canada appeared quite bright based on the performance of Anton up until the 

moment when Anton was inhospitably abused over his attire. If the Chess Federation of Canada which 

has been a good citizen of FIDE since the day of its founding can expect this kind of treatment within 

FIDE for one of its top players, in his shining moment, the brightest moment of his chess career, with the 

world spotlight upon him, who is then safe? I am certain I don’t need to point out that this has brought 

a great deal of unfavourable attention to chess and FIDE in the worldwide press coverage. Please do not 

stoop to explanations which attempt to justify the unjustifiable. We can accept the idea that there can 

be a dress code for chess competition. Given everything that has gone on before and during this World 

Cup, we cannot accept that a young Grandmaster deserves to be distracted and insulted moments 

before a game that is part of the qualification for the World Chess Championship, merely because the 

organizer doesn't like his pants. 


If there is to be a dress policy it needs to be clearly enunciated before the tournament and should be 

enforced for all participants. If chess is going to make inroads in the demographic groups which 

advertisers crave we must avoid the appearance of ridiculousness which this situation invokes. It is a 

pity that instead of focusing on the chess that was played we are focusing on a pair of shorts. 

I think that a sincere apology to grandmaster Kovalyov from grandmaster Azmaiparashvili for this 

incident without qualification or blaming the victim of this outburst would be the first step required to 

move forward from this unfortunate situation. As Hal Bond said in his letter about this incident “Mr 

Azmaiparashvili's behaviour in this case clearly violated the rules and norms of FIDE.” Please do not 

send the message to the world at large that this is not the case and this behaviour is within the rules and 

norms of FIDE. 




Vladimir Drkulec 

President, Chess Federation of Canada