Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dunderhead Revisited
Sanctioned with a warning by the FIDE Ethics Commission, Mr. Nigel Short granted that he would refrain from calling Mr. Azmaiparashvili a " dunderhead " , but he would certainly call him " a cheat." We have heard Mr. Short assert that the FIDE Deputy President cheated in one of his games, but do you know the specifics of this claim? What cheating? Where and how? Against whom? Well, I looked around for the answers.

It seems that the story began with the position depicted above with Mr. Azmaiparashvili having the black pieces. Vladimir Malakhov sat across the board from him in a game that started out as a Pirc. As you may have already notice, the white king is in check. Malakhov played 25. Rd1 to which Azmaiparashvili replied 25...Be5, leaving his rook en prise. Realizing the mistake, Azmaiparashvili retracted this move and played 25...Rd1+ instead. Someone on the web speculated that Malakhov was so stunned and stupefied by this retraction that he failed to object. The true reason, perhaps, for allowing the retraction was Azmaiparashvili's written note on his scoresheet as 25...Rd1+, signifying that this was his true intention and not 25...Be5? Azmaiparashvili went on to win this game in 59 moves. Experiencing a pang of conscience, he offered to score the game a draw but Malakhov stood by his loss. Malakhov, by the way, finished in second place behind Azmaiparashvili ( the 4th IECC in Istanbul, Turkey 2003) .

I must stress that I have not found a direct quote or a full statement by either Malakhov or Azmaiparashvili about this incident. The most I can say is that this is the prevailing story on the web. If there is a statement from either one about this incident, please send me the url. Now, assuming that this is pretty close to the truth, you can see why every fair-minded chessplayer can become alarmed by this incident. It's rule-bending by a high official of FIDE to say the least. I'd say that Azmaiparashvili's retraction of his move was, in reality, rule-breaking. One has to move the piece that he touched, or capture the piece if the piece belongs to the opponent. I mean, we're talking about a basic, bare bones, fundamental rule here. You could not get away with this stuff at your local club championships much more in an international chess tournament. This is absolutely wrong even if your opponent agreed to the retraction because the rules are not made up along the way between the players but are set even before the game started. In the long run, this retraction will cost Azmaiparashvili more than a point. It's going to be the gadfly that won't go away, and it will forever tarnish his reputation that he sought to defend against the concept, or unflattering image, that we all know now as dunderhead.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taking back a move doesn't stain at all. How else to explain the mild reactions, if any, on Carlsen taking back moves on an almost regular basis? (f.e. against Aronian during the Amber tournament and against Gashimov during the Tal memorial blitz tournament).

4:14 PM  

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