By Leon Watson
10 SEPTEMBER 2017 • 4:17PM
The World Cup of chess has been engulfed in a race row after a Grandmaster claimed he was told he couldn't wear shorts because he "looked like a gypsy".
Anton Kovalyov, of Canada, stormed out of the $1.6 million event minutes before his third round match yesterday. It followed a blazing row with one of the event's main organisers.
Kovalyov, 25, had turned up wearing the same stripey shorts he wore in the previous round when he knocked out India's former world champion Vishy Anand.
But 15 minutes before the start of play, officials collared Kovalyov and informed him they did not approve of his attire.
Kovalyov was accused of breaking the dress code imposed by the game's world governing body Fide, and ordered to change into long trousers.
Kovalyov refused, saying he didn't have any, before Fide vice president and head of the European Chess Union Zurab Azmaiparashvili intervened and a fierce row kicked off.
It ended with Kovalyov storming out, forfeiting his match with Maxim Rodshtein of Israel, and claiming he was racially abused, "bullied" and "treated like garbage".
Speaking afterwards, Ukrainian-born Kovalyov said: "The issue was not the shorts but how I was treated.
"I came to the game and was approached by the arbiter asking me to change (first time). I told him that I don't have pants with me.
"Then came Zurab, he was very aggressive, yelling at me and using the racial slur 'gypsy' to insult me, apart from mentioning several times that I will be punished by Fide.
"I told him that I had asked before at the previous world cup if what I was wearing was OK and I was told by somebody from the organisation that yes.
"Zurab, in a prepotent way, said he doesn't care, he's the organiser now. At this point I was really angry but tried not to do anything stupid, and asked him why he was so rude to me, and he said because I'm a gypsy."
Kovalyov said at that point he had to leave.
He went on: "So imagine this, the round is about to start, I'm being bullied by the organiser of the tournament, being assured that I will be punished by Fide, yelled at and racially insulted. What would you do in my situation?
"I think many people would have punched this person in the face or at least insulted him. I decided to leave.
"I am disgusted by these type of people. I don't want the money. I'm coming back home."
The winner of the two-leg match is due to face world champion Magnus Carlsen in round four.
When asked about the incident Azmaiparashvili made no mention of allegations he said Kovalyov looked like "a gypsy".
The Georgian, the event's appeals committee chairman, said: "He [Kovalyov] just became angry and he left the room and did not come back."
Fide has also been approached for a comment, but not responded.
The incident is not the first time a row has broken out over a player wearing shorts.
At an event in Serbia in 1987, a Hungarian player protested about the British Grandmaster Nigel Short's shorts.
However, on that occasion a compromise was reached and the match went ahead.
In an interview with Russian media, Azmaiparashvili tried to defend his comments by saying "gypsy" was meant in the sense of "vagabond".
He said: "We in Georgia have an expression: 'dressed like a tramp'. Do not fool around, everyone understands what I mean. If someone wants to get hold of a national theme, nothing will happen."