Fide decision drags India into unseemly row
India are celebrating a first after being declared on Sunday as joint winners with Russia of online chess Olympiad.Updated: Sep 01, 2020, 07:38 IST
Chess lives and breathes on the internet and is considered a perfect global game allied to ever-increasing connectivity speed. India are celebrating a first after being declared on Sunday as joint winners with Russia of online chess Olympiad.
But the tournament pushed into the virtual world because of the pandemic has triggered a row over crashed connectivity and a decision forced by it.
India’s victory mood has been tempered by criticism of the decision by Fide’s Russian president Arkady Dvorkovich that the title will be shared after India’s appeal during the final. The appeals committee could not reach a unanimous decision on the protest with evidence that a host chess.com server crash had led to Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh forfeiting their games on time in Round 2.
Russia would have been declared winner as they were 4.5-1.5 winners of the round after the first round was tied 3-all. And any loss of connectivity at the players’ end would also have led to forfeiture.
Sunday witnessed a major global internet outage and a Fide report says internet outage was caused by a Cloudflare crash. Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN) which acts as an intermediary between client and server. It stores web content for delivery on the closest edge server, optimising loading times.
Dvorkovich being Russian has put him in an awkward position amid claims that it is to appease the strong Indian chess community. A critic on twitter even quoted George Orwell’s Animal Farm (“…but some animals are more equal than others!”) in the timeline of Armenian GM Levon Aronian, his team’s captain in the tournament.
Fide’s decision has particularly come in for criticism because a similar protest by Armenia after a player lost connectivity in the first round of their quarter-final against India was rejected. Social media was flooded with comments, especially by Indian fans, many of whom commiserated with Armenia.
Susan Polgar, eldest of the three famous Hungarian chess-playing sisters who are close to Anand, congratulated Russia and India but questioned Fide’s decision in a tweet, but was upset by a torrent of tweets attacking her.
Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi’s tweet on Sunday summed up mood in his camp. “Smart decision to please Indian chess community, meanwhile forgetting about other fans & players. Selective nobleness.
Russia’s former women’s world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk rubbed it in, tweeting. “Let’s clarify one thing: India didn’t win the Olympiad, but was rather named by FIDE a co-champion. Imho, there is a huge difference between actually “winning” the gold or just being awarded one without winning a single game in the final.”