September 15, 2009 19:05

Sergey Tiviakov: "I had no choice but to leave the Championship"

TiviakovThe already seriously weakened Dutch Championship lost its top seed yesterday, after the third round. Sergey Tiviakov had prearranged a draw for his last-round game on Sunday and had told the organizers that he couldn't attend the closing ceremony and possible tiebreaks. This was not accepted, after which Tiviakov decided to withdraw immediately. ChessVibes spoke with all people involved.

Three rounds have been played so far at this year's Dutch Championship, which has GM Sergei Tiviakov (2670), GM Sipke Ernst (2589), GM Dimitri Reinderman (2572), GM Anish Giri (2552), GM Friso Nijboer (2540), GM Robin Swinkels (2511, IM Frans Cuijpers (2480), GM Karel van der Weide (2462) IM Ali Bitalzadeh (2437 and FM Roi Miedema (2396) on its participants list.

To start with, the tournament has a remarkable location: the town of Haaksbergen, close to the German border, about 10 kilometers southwest of Enschede.

This year's edition is one of the weakest Dutch Championships ever held, with no less than seven players from the top 10 missing. After the withdrawal of its main sponsor, the Dutch Chess Federation had to downgrade the prize fund considerably. The last three years, when the tournament was held in Hilversum, the first prize was € 12,000, € 8,000 and € 10,000 respectively; this year it's € 6,000.

Players who we don't see this year include Loek van Wely, Jan Smeets (reigning champion), Daniel Stellwagen, Erwin l'Ami, Erik van den Doel, Jan Werle and Jan Timman. And now, after three rounds, the tournament organizers had to say goodbye to the only top GM who did agree to play: Sergey Tiviakov. What has happened?

After the opening ceremony, which was held last Friday, Sergei Tiviakov walked over to his townsman Sipke Ernst, his opponent in the last round, and offered him a draw. Ernst accepted, but then Tiviakov added that he could't play on Sunday, because he had to play in the Croatian league on Monday. Ernst suggested him to contact the arbiter, which Tiviakov did. At that point the arbiter and tournament director didn't object (yet).

After the third round (Tiviakov had drawn with Bitalzadeh, lost to Swinkels and beaten Miedema) the organizers told him that they couldn't allow it. As stated in the players' contract, which was signed by Tiviakov, all participants have to attend the opening, closing and all rounds. If he wouldn't appear in the playing hall, his game would be declared lost by default. Tiviakov immediately decided to withdraw from the tournament, which thus lost its top seeded player.

The resuls of Tiviakov will be removed from the tournament table, but his games do count for the FIDE rating list. This means that IM Ali Bitalzadeh, who already played him, can still hope for a GM norm but IM Frans Cuijpers, who was supposed to play Tiviakov in round 4, can't score a norm anymore.

ReindermanAccording to GM Dimitri Reinderman all participants unanimously condemn Tivakov's actions. "He only came with it after the drawing of lots. This way he put the organizers on the spot, leaving them no options: accept it, or let your tournament be ruined." Reinderman added that it's not unusual to prearrange a draw. "It happens. I wouldn't have problems with it, but you shouldn't do it too often."

Sipke ErnstGM Sipke Ernst, who accepted Tiviakov's draw offer, expected to play a few moves on Sunday before shaking hands. "It came to me as a surprise when he said that he couldn't play at all. Prearranged draws happens all the time and intrinsically there's nothing wrong with it. However, one should keep it quiet."

Jan StomphorstAlready plagued by the refusal of seven top players, tournament director Jan Stomphorst was not amused to see the top seed leave. "It's a drama. After having weighed all options, we came to the conclusion that we couldn't accept it. It would establish a precedent that we don't want to have. Besides, already in May he knew that he had to play in Croatia. Why didn't he tell us before?"

"And the strangest thing was that he told me he was happy that his last-round opponent was Sipke Ernst, 'a decent player', as he said. I asked him: 'What would you have done if you had to play FM Roi Miedema in the last round?' 'I would have played', he replied!"

We also called Sergey Tiviakov, who was already back home in Groningen this morning. The Russian-born grandmaster, who speaks Dutch very well, was happy to give his side of the story. "I confirmed my participation in the Croatioan league on March 24th, 2009, long before anything was known about the Dutch Championship. Later, when I told them about my participation in Haaksbergen, they were kind enough to reschedule the first round from September 19th to 21st. This way I could play all 9 games."

"On May 28th I spoke with Jan Stomphorst and Jeroen Bosch [Sports Director at the Dutch Chess Federation, PD], when I already informed them that I had confirmed my participation in Croatia. There and then, Stomphorst promised me that the Championship would be organized in such a way that I wouldn't have to miss the Croatian league. Then, when I received the playing schedule of the Championship, I was of course very disappointed, as the federation didn't fulfil their promise."

Sergey Tiviakov

Tiviakov explains why he decided to play the Championship anyway. "The last round was scheduled on September 20th, which was the day I was to leave for Croatia. I decided that I wanted to play anyway, because I didn't want to disappoint the federation even further, after they had already lost so many top players. I wanted to support them in times of crisis. I thought we would always be able to find a solution."

"When I have to leave on the 20th, I thought, the most logical solution is to play the game on a different date, or simply agree to a draw. When Sipke accepted, I immediately informed the arbiter and Mr Stomphorst. I also suggested that we could play a few moves on one of the evenings, even with live transmission. I didn't get any complaints or anything."

"I started to play the Championship and then suddenly after the third round I was told that it wasn't possible, that I had to play and attend the closing ceremony. But they knew this wasn't possible for me because the ceremony starts Sunday at 19.00 hrs, while the last possible flight leaves 19.45 at Schiphol airport to Zurich, where I will fly to Split on Monday morning."

Tiviakov also makes clear why he signed a contract that stated that he had to be present during all rounds, and the opening and closing ceremony. "It's very normal for a player to miss the closing ceremony. Last week at the Montreal International, a much stronger tournament, both Bacrot and Mazé had left earlier, which was no problem for the organizers.

I don't understand why it is so important for the organizers to have me at the closing ceremony. Besides, with my score and play the chances that I have to play a tiebreak are about 1%. And if I don't play, the other player can simply be declared the champion."

Sergey Tiviakov

The grandmaster from Groningen doesn't like the way the press release on the website of the Dutch Chess Federation describes his motives. "It says I otherwise couldn't go for 'a lucrative offer in Croatia', but I want to make clear that it's not about the money. I am a man of my word. When I confirm my participation somewhere, I play."

"In August 2006, I got an invitation to play in the Staunton Memorial, but I had already told the open tournament in Banyoles, financially much less interesting, that I would come. The same last year, when I had confirmed my participation at the European Union Championship in Liverpool. Then a tournament in Romania offered more, but I said no."

In their press release, the Dutch Chess Federation mentions that they are seriously considering sanctions against Tiviakov. "I think I'm the one who should ask for compensation. They didn't fulfil their promises, which I don't understand. I'm still the strongest player in The Netherlands, I have the highest rating, but still the federation wasn't willing to compromise. It happens all the time that players go for a quick draw, but for some reason they forced me to be present at the closing ceremony."

"I had no choice but to leave the Championship. I don't feel guilty; I don't think I did anything wrong. My only mistake was that I agreed to participate in the Championship in the first place, but I could never expect this behaviour by the federation. I shouldn't have trusted the federation and the promises they made."

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Thomas's picture

@vooruitgang: Not sure what you mean or would suggest. Should the organizers really add a disclaimer after "players are obliged to attend the closing ceremony", something as "WE REALLY MEAN IT, even if early departures are tolerated at other events"? Should they specify financial penalties that would apply? I vaguely remember that this is the case at some top events: something like 5000€ for skipping the closing ceremony, 2000€ for missing press conferences or sponsor events? [should be divided by 10 for the Dutch championship as the prize money is also roughly 10-times lower?].
Of course, there may still be "unforeseen events and eventualities" such as sudden illness or death in the family. Whether "having to leave for another event before the closing ceremony" is an unforeseen event is another story

Indeed, the FIDE GP regulations include
"10.4. Players are required to be present at all official functions approved by FIDE President or his representative during the Tournament including official receptions and the opening and closing ceremonies. ", as well as Article 18 specifying penalties for "breach of conduct of any of these regulations"

Jarvis's picture

Stupid ass federation. Pathetic little men striving for power. 'a more lucrative offer' - Jesus Christ, the pettiness of it!

Peter Doggers's picture

Actually I had quoted that part slightly inaccurately - corrected now.

nep's picture

"Prearranged draws happens all the time and intrinsically there’s nothing wrong with it."

Yes, and tell this to organizers and sponsors, they'll love it. Why not prearrange all results beforehand?

Arne Moll's picture

I think both parties are at fault here. Tiviakov should of course have contacted the arbiter or the tournament director as soon as he received the playing schedule, rather than on opening day offer a draw to Sipke first and only then informing the officials instead of the other way around.
But the press release by the federation sounds hypocritical and whiny, where a simple compromise (Tiviakov simply forfeits the last round, or something) would have been a much more normal way of solving matters. But then, the Dutch chess federation has a repuation to uphold of being more bureaucratic than Kafka could ever imagine...

ceann's picture

the Dutch championship is even more of a farce than the British and that saying something, the oddball Trivialkov isn't even Dutch, a total shambles all round....

Thomas's picture

Actually Tiviakov could appear for the last round to play a few pro forma moves. The round starts at 11:00am, which would leave him plenty of time to catch his evening flight from Amsterdam ... . Actually it seems that he could even play a normal game of 40 moves (time control is 90 minutes + 30 second increment from move 1)? I guess 3 hours should be enough to get to the airport from the tournament location !? Does this explain why he would have played ELO tailender Miedema??

me's picture

Tiviakov is Dutch. He has lived in Holland for ten years and holds a Dutch passport.

vooruitgang's picture

This is what happens when it becomes "very normal" for a player to miss a ceremony that he agrees to appear at and contracts to do so. What good is a contrat if it does not include clauses that address unforseen events and eventualities? So either a player reads the contract before signing and sees that he is going to be required at a ceremony and then refuses to sign the contract, or the Dutch Federation employs a contract lawyer to re-write the contract to avoid these kinds of situations that cause ill feelings. If we in the chess community don't think this through and work together on solutions the Royal Game which we love so much suffers.

observer's picture


ceann's picture

oh yeah i forgot about the Trivialkovs from Rotterdam! numpty.

me's picture

Again somebody impersonates me. I must be famous.

Clifford's picture

Ernst should also be held to account for prearranging a draw. Perhaps some players regard such tactics as acceptable but prearranging any game, draw or loss, is morally and legally unacceptable and when proven should result in a ban for both players.

Ronny Baekelant's picture

1) Is is normal that a professional chessplayer tries to play as much as he can to earn a decent living.

2) If the organisers have a contract that stipulates a penalty if the players do not attend the tiebreaks or closing ceremony all problems should be avoided.

The Netherlands is one of the countries where chess is still considered as a sport. Keep it that way. Nobody is interested in a fight away from the board.

test's picture

The organizers didn't keep their word, then twist the story to make Tiviakov a bad guy so Tiviakov says fuck this, I'm leaving.

Michael X Tractor's picture

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "To lose 7 of your top 10 players might be classed as a misfortune, but to lose 8 sounds like carelessness"!

guncha's picture

Well, Tiviakov is nr.1 borad of Netherlands team in European team championship. It will be interesting to see if he will play for them especially when federation is considering sanctions.

Possibly he could switch federations if he wanted to. He is high quality GM and I think a lot federations which might be interested in him.

udayb's picture

It is interesting to see how some grandmasters have a lenient view on pre-arranged draw. I tend to agree with Clifford's comment above.

I think pre-arranged draws should be tolerated only in exceptional circumstances, that too with the prior approval of the arbiter. An example could be a situation where the two players are long time training partners who exchange ALL their notes between them.

Rob Brown's picture

Prearranging a draw is fixing a game. In all other sports, prearranging the result, or game fixing, is regarded as a cardinal sin and doing so brings on the severest penalties. Why is it all but ignored in professional chess? When Tiviakov and Ernst agreed to draw without playing, they declared their intention to cheat the spectators as well as the other competitors while ignoring the terms and conditions under which they agreed to play. The decision of the tournament organizers is a logical and just response. I applaud them and tournament organizers around the world who have adopted rules designed to combat this type of unethical behaviour.

Peter Doggers's picture

There you go again, paul, talking about Tivi's games not being beautiful. As I said, that's TOTALLY irrelevant here. And now you're extending your criticism suddenly to "all Dutch players" playing for money and not "the love of the game". It just doesn't make sense at all what you're saying and besides, I had to delete two swear words. Please lower your tone to more humble levels.

Peter Doggers's picture

paul, congratz for leaving one of the silliest comments ever on this site. What on earth do you base your assumptions on. 'Would do everything for money' - do you know him personally? 'He likes an easy buck' well, who doesn't? 'Gaining his Elo against weak(er) players', another nonsense remark, since Tivi regularly beats stronger players, but can't play them too often since he's seldomly invited to elite events. 'Rather dull games', totally irrelevant here. Sheesh.

paul's picture

TY Peter didn't know you were Triviakovs manager, maybe u have a program about games and their culprits, To me it seems TIVI never would reach a database including the most beautiful 10000 games between 1999 and 2009. He gets payed and produces .... little, just like Sokolov and Timman i guess.
Tivi ought to bring the contracts (HE rejected) online or i will not believe him! In cruell English you can call him an elohssa,,,he made draws...withdrawn from the closingceremony..just for money, Besides that the KNSB have payed him plenty.
I don't like the patzers from the knsb BUT ONCE THEY SEEM TO BE RIGHT!
Skip Triviakov and Sokolov from the dutch team en just play whith the regular guys , who are also right to demand some startingmoney! \But Tiviakov and Sokolov should be ***deleted*** to the dutch chesscompetition. No pay no cure!
Oke Timman wont play because he asks to much even te join! But i think even i would contribute 10000 euro to see Smeets, Stelwagen, L'Ami, v Wely, Peng, play the dutch CHAMPS. A pitty Tiviakov has no manager if he had he would not looked like an elohssa ,,..he hurt the players in the NK and he doesn't care! Please let Shirov ,Ivantsjoek,Ponomariov live in the Netherlands and Spassky and Hort would be happy to train them. And they would make results ...

Sorry Peter, Dutch chess players only play for money there is no love to the game.,.,.....witch is right cause every dutch GM ought to get a better job in real live supporting friends and kids ***deleted*** Besides that he fucked Bohm!!!! Calling him a friend and NOT giving him a draw (which would haven given his friend Hans Bohm a third GM result)

I hope Nijboer wins...he has 2 kids!!

Besides that...let's keep on our places...ever since the computer was a participant nobody took the Dutch NK seriously!!!!

paul's picture

T(r)iviakov would do anything for money, and right he is cause a GM earns little. But Arne is right , he should have known better and whitdrawn before the NK-finals. But he likes an easy buck ..and he can afford it being a 2650 player gaining his Elo against weak(er) players. I don't believe a single word he wrote before i c the contracts he would have set aside. He is just in for the money i guess ...right he is...but please Tiviakov be honest!!!!! Don't wee END pee for something you KNOW should or could have happent....u disgrace sponsors and public and besides that u always play rather dull games. Be like Sokolov and fuck everthing that has a pulse!!

Thomas's picture

I tend to agree with Clifford and others - well, actually I am not that sure (see below). In the given case, the issue was not really that the players prearranged a draw, but that they (or at least Tiviakov) planned to do so without playing a single move. If they had been able to (or had bothered to) show up at the round, it may be hard or impossible to prove that their draw was prearranged. Three examples:

1) If a game ends by the "standard repetition" in the Ruy Lopez Zaitsev, can we distinguish if it was prearranged or a spontaneous decision over the board?

2) More suspicious might be a book draw in an opening that is normally not part of either player's repertoire - for example there is one line in the Pirc. But this still wouldn't be proof, at least not from a legal point of view.
An anecdote from my own practice: I once drew against a friend of mine (we travelled to the tournament together), he was much higher-rated but drunk. The full story is: He was not present at the start of the round, I went to the bar [I knew he would be there ...] and offered him a draw. His answer: "Not yet, let's play a few moves first, you know that line of the Pirc do you?" Actually I didn't, and during the "game" he had to tell me which moves I had to play ... .
Would it have been more ethical to wait at the board, let his time run out and claim a win by forfeit? One could ask the same question regarding Sipke Ernst!?

3) And clear proof are games like the following:
Elisabeth Paehtz - Raj Tischbierek, Berlin 2009
1.d4 1:21:55 1...d6 1:30:24 2.Dd2 1:22:11 2...e5 1:30:45 3.a4 1:22:38 3...e4 1:31:05 4.h3 1:23:04 4...f5 1:31:27 5.Df4 1:23:31 5...Le7 1:23:58 6.Dh2 1:23:58 6...Le6 1:32:07 7.Ta3 1:24:23 7...c5 1:32:27 8.Tg3 1:24:49 8...Da5+ 1:32:50 9.Sd2 1:25:15 9...Lb3 1:33:12 10.d5 1:25:33 10...Lh4 1:33:35 11.c4 1:26:01 11...e3 1:33:56 12.f3 1:26:30 12...f4 1:34:21
[Times spent on the clock indicate that both players had memorized the moves until stalemate beforehand, only E. Paehtz was a bit late at the start of the game]
Actually there was an identical predecessor game Tischbierek - Thomas Paehtz (father of Elisabeth) at the last East German championship in 1990 ... .

For two other prearranged rapid stalemates, see
[no need to know German or read the entire report, just scroll far down to the two positions, click on the links to see how they were reached]

ceann's picture

@Thomas- haven't you been told before...

EJ Wagenmakers's picture

If you are allowed to offer a draw at move 20, at move 10, and even at move 1, I don't see why you would be forbidden to offer a draw at move 0. Acceptance of an early draw offer signifies that the contestants did not want to fight, for whatever reason. I don't see why offering it before the game would be "illegal", but offering it immediately after the game has begon is fine. If you want to outlaw this kind of behavior, just implement the Sofia rule.

Tony's picture

Seems there are two main issues here:
#1 the pre-arranged draw issue which happens all the time and we as avid enthusiasts and players know this very well. It should have been kept underwraps though because it is not the main issue. Tiviakov was simply trying to make the best of a situation.

#2 The main issue really is that the organizers when inviting Tiviakov assured him that they would arrange the schedule so he could leave on time to make it to his next commitment. When they decided for what ever reason to not do that the organizers should have talked to Tiviakov when they were going to not allow him to leave on time (HOw much time he needs is something HE decides not the organizers) . Tiviakov seemed to be the one trying to make the best of a situation while the organizers are hiding and waving a contract around.
granted Tiviakov should have come forward the minute there was a problem and confronted the organizers then but that is a personality issue and he preferred to make the best of things since he understands sometimes things cannt be organized to make one participant happy.
I would say that the organizers are not the ones in power here. Tiviakov has plenty of invites and is a well respected and strong player that doesnt need them but other player can see how he is treated....

CJ's picture

Tiviakov probably expected a special treatment since he at least bothered to participate. Not playing is not an option of course. But the organisers should have been a bit flexible about the tiebreak and ceremony part.

Brian Wall's picture

I agree with the GM Tiviiakov 100% and with the Dutch Federation 0%

me's picture

I see some people here forgot to take their medications.

Bert's picture

Not mentioned here is, I believe, that in case of equal ending, the winner is decided by play-offs. In which case Tivi surely wouldn't have caught his flight. Something Tivi surely was aware of.
We can conclude that Tivi was only thinking about his own interests, which is to a large extent the right attitude of a professional chessplayer. But short term decisions like these tend to interfere with long tem.

On the other hand officials and organizers should think in the general interest. They should be practical and rational, and not emotional and vindictive. A pragmatical solution would be to let Tivi play on, including the prearranged draw (maybe with the request to play 5 moves) and apply a suitable penalty at a later moment. The tournament would have progressed in a normal way, and other contestants would have had their chances for norms and so on.

vooruitgang's picture

@Thomas: Let's simplify this...A player signs a contact agreeing to play and attend ceremonies, interviews, etc. He is ASSURED by organizers they will arrange the schedule in order to enable him to attend another event.

The player should stop right there and get this assurance in WRITING. Written contracts have greater evidentiary value than verbal assurances in court. Verbal contracts are subject to misinterpretation. What was said and what was heard are often miles apart. GM's are treated poorly in the chess world. They need to push back and do it legally.

Get it in writing. So what I meant in the first post was that contracts need to be specific and address eventualities such as occurred here.

Thomas's picture

@vooruitgang: While I appreciate your effort to 'simplify', things are actually complicated and, in chess analysis terms, unclear.

One thing which hasn't been said before: thanks and kudos to Peter Doggers for his efforts to come up with a balanced report, and also for leaving his own opinion (if he has one) out of the story - it's a report, not a column after all.

Reading through the report again two quotes are 100% contradicting each other:
Tournament director Jan Stomphorst: "already in May he knew that he had to play in Croatia. Why didn’t he tell us before?”
Tiviakov: "On May 28th I spoke with Jan Stomphorst and Jeroen Bosch [Sports Director at the Dutch Chess Federation, PD], when I already informed them that I had confirmed my participation in Croatia. There and then, Stomphorst promised me that the Championship would be organized in such a way that I wouldn’t have to miss the Croatian league. "
While some posters take Tiviakov's version for granted, I would say noone (not you, not me, not Peter Doggers) can possibly tell who's right and who's lying or remembering things wrongly. Peter could have made the additional effort to ask Jeroen Bosch - but I guess he wanted to get the report out quickly.

BTW (but this may only be relevant from a legal/court point of view): I checked flight schedules ,:) and Tiviakov could still reach his connecting flight in Zurich taking a 7:05am flight from Amsterdam Monday morning. Not ideal of course (most chess players aren't morning people, and there would be a risk to miss the connection), but - from a legal point of view - the Dutch federation could even claim that they honored Tiviakov's request!?

For the rest, my previous comment was just to point out that Tiviakov's statement "both Bacrot and Mazé had left earlier [from Montreal], which was no problem for the organizers" is rather irrelevant IMO. Maybe there was no contractual obligation to attend the closing ceremony, maybe they informed the organizers who agreed, maybe they were actually punished (keeping part of their prize money), who knows?

Poek's picture

"the Dutch federation could even claim that they honored Tiviakov’s request!?"

They did. It's not ideal, but starting the tournament earlier would have given other problems. The main problem is probably that Tiviakov expects some rest time between the two tournaments and wanted to leave saturday evening. But this was not part of the agreement between him and the federation...

vooruitgang's picture

@Thomas...I agree with you that Peter Doggers did an excellent (as always) job reporting. And also that it is irrelevant that players left another event without causing problems to the organizers.

You are correct that both sides contradict each other. This proves the point I am trying to make: Unless something is in writing there is no proof of obligation, or as you say, "no one can possibly tell who's right and who's lying or remembering things wrongly".

Now, if Tiviakov had insisted on Stomphorst putting his alleged promise in writing he would be in much better standing. If he had the conversation he said he did he could have insisted it be in his contract. As it stands now he has been condemned by his fellow players.

Seems clear enough to me that talk (if it in fact occurred) is cheap.

Matt's picture

Tiviakov is right ofcourse, the inability of the organisers to make it happen is ridiculous. One part that makes chess chess is that chesspeople have common sense and usually treat each other with respect.

About the pre-arranged draws... it's normal, get over it. Friends, both being hungover, family stuff, emergencies.... it happens and chessplayers are generally the kind of person that likes to help in that kind of case.

The people that nag about this, are.... unsportsmenlike.

TO be fair, the KNSB never seems to like jokes... I remember playing:
1.Nf3 Nc6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Ne5 Nd4 4.Nd5 Ne4 5.Nc6 Nc3 6.Nf6+ Nf3+
lol both kings are in check.... we moved the knights back to b1, g1, g8, b8 later and started a normal game.... halfway they insisted on the rules and the normal played game was stopped untill the Nf6 check when a draw was the only result possible.

My conclusion is that the chess bureaucrats are way to full of themselves. Sure when prize funds of over 50.000 are at stake contracts and behaviour are in order. But a measly 6000 gives the organisation less symbolic right to nag about the little things IMO.

Grow up KNSB and get some perspective!

simon's picture

usual arrogance from tivi

Jonathan Berry's picture

I was arbiter at the 2007 Canadian Open. The organizers agreed months in advance to have a 30-move draw rule, then didn't put it in the player contract .... but that's not the point. Despite deploying the 30-move rule starting with flexibility and continuing with increasing certainty, there was a glaring counter-example. Tiviakov discovered that he needed a root canal (this is a painful dental operation, for the education of anybody who is fortunate enough never to have experienced one), and I brokered a pre-game draw with Tiviakov's GM opponent, who was agreeable and sympathetic to Tiviakov's situation. Whether travel to the Croatian League falls in the same category as a root canal operation, I don't know, but I do think that a compromise would have been better than a withdrawal.

Rob Brown's picture

This is germane:

Translated from Chinese lanaguage which was published in Sina Sports at 21:21 hr on 21 September 2009.

In the 6th round of the Zhejiang Lishui Xingqiu Cup International Open Chess Tournament held in Lishui, Zhejiang Province, an extraordinary incident happened when two young star players Wang Chen and Lu Shanglei agreed to a draw. After the end of the round, the Chief Arbiter declared both players to have lost their game. This is the first time that a double default has ever been meted out in chess competition in China.

What actually happened? This brings us back to 16:00 hour when the Chief Arbiter announced the start of the round and the two players wrote their result as drawn, signed on their scoresheets without making a single move and left the playing hall. The Chief Arbiter from Singapore, Mr Ignatius Leong, General Secretary of the World Chess Federation, saw what happened and after checking that no move was recorded on the scoresheets, declared the game lost for both players.

After the incident, Mr Leong was interviewed by the sports reporter from Sina Sports. Mr Leong said that while this was the first time that such a ruling had been made in China, it was also the first time he had ever made a double default in his 30-year carrer of arbitratiion in major international competitions all over the world. In his opinion, such conduct does not show respect for the competition, the organisers and the chief arbiter.

There may be different reasons where short draws are made during a game. However, as in today's case, agreeing to a draw without making a single move are rare. When the reporter asked Mr Leong if there are regulations which support his decision, Mr Leong replied smilingly asked if there are regulations which do not support his ruling. "I have arbitrated in numerous major world and international competitions for 30 years and have not made a mistake. From my perspective, a sportive result cannot be achieved without making a single move.

The players had come to the tournament hall, signed on the scoresheets without makiing a single move and left the tournament hall immediately. This is as good as fixing the result prior to start of play. Such behaviour is bad for the image for the development of Chess. This was why he made such a tough ruling.

The reporter contacted a Chinese International Master Xu Yang who supported Mr Leong's decision. Xu said that such conduct of the players could lose the support of sponsors. Moreover, from the professional view point, this is unfair to chess fans who want to see interesting games.

Before the start of the 7th round, Mr Leong will announce his ruling in the presence of all the competitors. This will be a good lesson not only for the two players but to all competitors to respect their profession as chessplayers, to respect the efforts of organisers and to respect the development of Chess activities.

Posted on the FIDE Website

Jonathan Berry's picture

Not made a mistake in 30 years? "Mister, you're a better man than I" (apologies to the Yardbirds).

Too bad Mr. Leong wasn't the arbiter (although he is listed as such at the Swiss Manager site:

2nd Women World Team Chess Championship Organizer(s) FIDE
Chief-Arbiter Ignatius Leong
Arbiter Xie Jun(Deputy)
) for the China-Vietnam match incident. Though there is a difference between isolated players agreeing to a draw off the chessboard, and powerful federations doing the same thing.

alex's picture

I recall a very similar experience with kasparov, who had promised me a draw, of course in the end we agreed ti play and i destroyed him with my prepared queens gambit

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