Nigel Short is an unusual Englishman, who lives in Greece. The Grandmaster hates football and follows the England cricket team "ball by ball" when he can. An anti-establishment man, he is known for being critical of FIDE - the world governing body of chess.
Short, 45, who lost to Garry Kasparov in the World Championship final in 1993, is here for the Kolkata Open beginning on Tuesday. He spoke to HT on Monday.
You are here following a string of good performances. What are your expectations?
I was amazed to see how strong the field is. On the good side, it reduces expectations. On the bad side, it makes it very difficult to win a good prize. I am here without any expectations and looking to play to the best of abilities.
How was the experience of working as coach in Iran, especially working with women players?
I enjoyed it and so did the girls. They were very enthusiastic in attending my talks and analysis. After my stint was over, I wrote in my report that for Iranian women chess players to progress, they must play against superior players. Afterwards, the Iranian sports ministry amended a rule that enabled women to play chess against men.
Does your stand on FIDE remain as hostile as it used to be?
It's a fairly hopeless organisation which has not changed. They chop and change tournaments and make players sign contracts which are one-sided.
You accused the then-FIDE vice-president Zurab Azmaiparashvili of cheating in a European championship that he won and got reprimanded. Was it a moral victory?
He didn't achieve anything by raising a hue and cry and I think I was given the weakest possible reprimand. Everyone knows Azmaiparashvili is a cheat and his act only made my accusations popular. The FIDE didn't disagree with what I said. They just found one word objectionable.
How serious a threat to the game is the problem of cheating?
It's increasingly becoming a problem. I haven't faced it personally, but players have been disqualified for cheating in various places.
The FIDE is not taking proper steps and troubling itself with idiocies like drug testing. Drugs have never been a problem in chess. Never in the 1500-year history of chess has anyone accused the opponent of using drugs after losing a game.