Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Smoking can be hazardous for your chess

It's confirmed, smoking will affect your chess. Two Chinese players found out the hard way in the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk.

According to reports, both Li Chao and Wang Yue were having a smoke minutes before the start of the round. Both forfeited when they were not at their boards at the start of the games. This zero start forfeiture first came into use at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad and have claimed a number of high profile victims and no doubt will claim more in the future. It is not enough to be present in the hall, you have to be sitting at your board when the round starts (usually through a gong being sounded or announcement by the Chief Arbiter).

One of your most important games in your career so far is about to start and you are not at the board but smoking outside? Really, the only people that can be blamed are themselves. The only other person who should shoulder the blame is the team captain/manager. As the Chinese had a fairly large contigent, a team captain accompanied them even though this is an individual event. To my mind, this person should have the responsibility to ensure all the players are at their board at the start of each round.

Both players lost the next game and are eliminated. As a result there will be no more Chinese representation in the next stage. This only leaves Wesley So as the sole remaining Asian player.

In an interview, Wang Yue had this to say when asked whether the forfeiture was a fair decision on the arbiter's part.

"Yes, this was correct and fair decision. The only decision that could be taken."

No tantrums, no excuses. My respect for this guy went up quite a few notches. See you again at the next championship cycle.


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