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FIDE fires GM Smirin for sexism at the Women Grand Prix

At the Women’s Grand Prix held in Astana, Kazakhstan, FIDE’s official commentator Ilya Smirin made some “completely unacceptable” sexist remarks publicly but also privately as revealed by his co-commentator WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni.

Photo by Anna Shtourman / FIDE

While the cheating scandal is still ongoing, GM Ilya Smirin decided to shock the chess world with his sexist comments. The Belarusian-born Israeli made his debut as an English-language commentator at the Women’s Grand Prix and made sure it was his last, at least under FIDE’s flag.

During the coverage, GM Smirin admitted saying “chess is not for women” and “why women can play against men and men cannot play against women?” Smirin also asked, “why a woman would want to get a men’s GM title?”

WIM Steil-Antoni said to him: “You’re saying, you know, ‘chess is maybe not for women’,” and Smirin replied: “I didn’t say it openly... in private, private conversation.”

Immediately WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova tweeted the incident, with the Director-General of FIDE Emil Sutovsky replying: “I spoke to GM Smirin. He sincerely apologized, and promised to bring an apology on air tomorrow.”

Sutovsky’s response though wasn’t enough with the journalist John Hartmann commenting: “That’s laughably inadequate, Emil Sutovsky. This guy should have been fired without delay.” and Ecuadorian WGM Carla Heredia saying: “Apology is not enough. He shouldn’t have been invited and paid to broadcast in a Women’s event since he has misogynistic views.”

Later, WIM Steil-Antoni who handled this outrageous situation with great professionalism and dignity, tweeted:

Today, FIDE stated: “Although we have great respect for Grandmaster Ilya Smirin as a chess player, the views he expressed on air are completely unacceptable, offensive, and do not represent any of the values that FIDE stands for. [...] Additionally, GM Smirin will not continue as a FIDE commentator with immediate effect.”

FIDE’s full announcement

During yesterday’s Women’s Grand Prix live broadcast, one of the announcers expressed some very embarrassing comments.

Although we have great respect for Grandmaster Ilya Smirin as a chess player, the views he expressed on air are completely unacceptable, offensive, and do not represent any of the values that FIDE stands for. Therefore, we unreservedly apologise to all those who were offended. Additionally, GM Smirin will not continue as a FIDE commentator with immediate effect.

FIDE not only strives to increase women’s representation in professional sports and official positions but also to change the perception of chess as purely a men’s world. Our community has to be a place where women feel safe and respected. Therefore, any action that carries disrespect, sexism or physical, verbal or emotional assault is unacceptable.

More of Twitter

“I am not willing to play chess with Niemann” Carlsen on the cheating scandal

After a record-breaking result at the Julius Baer Generation Cup, Magnus Carlsen decided to make a statement – as promised – on the Niemann situation, in which the World Champion directly accused Hans of cheating.

Photo: Crystal Fuller, Grand Chess Tour / Magnus Carlsen tweet

Magnus Carlsen has finally broken his silence and spoke up his truth, in great caution, due to the possibility of facing an investigation by FIDE, or potentially legal action from Hans Niemann, over the allegations. Because, guess what... it was about cheating after all!

In his statement Magnus shares his frustration with the chess world and directly accuses Niemann of cheating “more – and more recently – than he admits”. Niemann indeed admitted to cheating on chesscom twice, but chesscom published a statement saying that he wasn’t telling the entire truth. Magnus unfolded his thoughts even more saying that Niemann’s OTB progress has been unusual, and throughout their game in the Sinquefield Cup, he had the impression that Niemann wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying him as black in a way he thinks only a handful of players can do.

Prior to that the World Champion mentions that when Niemann was invited last minute to the Sinquefield Cup he strongly considered withdrawing prior to the event. “I ultimately chose to play,” Magnus said, and continued: “We must do something about cheating, and for my part going forward. I don’t want to play against people that have cheated repeatedly in the past, because I don’t know what they are capable of doing in the future. [...] So far I have only been able to speak with my actions, and those actions have stated clearly that I’m not willing to play chess with Niemann.”

After Magnus’ statement, Twitter once more bifurcated.

Carlsen won against Erigaisi with “Anti-young-player chess”

After posting a record score in the Julius Baer Generation Cup Prelims, Magnus Carlsen won the final against 19-year-old Arjun Erigaisi in the minimum possible number of games!

Photo: Chess24

The Julius Baer Generation Cup 2022 started unorthodoxically for the World Champion, who chose to resign on move 2 against Hans Niemann. Despite gifting Hans 3 whole points, Carlsen still posted a record score of 34/45 points total for the 2022 Tour, and entered the final with massive 9 points ahead of 2nd placed Erigaisi.

Carlsen continued his exceptional performance against the “amazingly strong” as he called him, Erigaisi, scoring 2½-½ in the first set, and 2-0 in the second to win the Cup with the minimum possible number of games according to the rules. Arjun did not leave the tournament empty-handed, though, as besides the prize money ($15,000), he qualified to the Champions Chess Tour season, set to take place in November in San Francisco, USA.

“I tried to play a little bit older, less-theoretical lines that have some serious strategic complexity, and it worked out pretty well. [...] I’m happy with the opening choices that I made — the strategy I had from a psychological point of view. Now that I’m playing younger and younger players, it makes sense to employ some different tricks.” Carlsen said on his strategy against Erigaisi.

On Hans Niemann and his promised statement after the end of the tournament, Carlsen said: “I will say a little bit more. Whether it will be tomorrow or one of the days after is not completely clear. I generally want cheating in chess to be dealt with seriously, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll certainly put out a statement very soon, and that will also not be all you hear from me on the topic.”

Buy a Chess Set — Plant a Tree

World Chess, a global gaming company, will from now on plant a tree for each chess set sold. Beautiful chess sets and beautiful forests can co-exist.

This environment-conscious initiative is a collaboration with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit dedicated to global reforestation. The main goal is to plant 10,000 trees over the next 5 years, restoring deforested and fire-affected areas. For every chess set purchased, World Chess will plant one tree in India where its main manufacturing site is located.

“We will plant a tree and help restore forests for every wooden chess set sold by World Chess and its partners around the world. It’s important to us, and it’s important to our customers. We will also continue using sustainable materials since It has always been important for World Chess to be sustainable and to use wood that is already harvested by the Indian government for their use. In other cases, the trees are sometimes so old that they have to be cut down and replanted, ‘ said the CEO of World Chess Ilya Merenzon.

According to the research, India lost 376kha of tree cover from 2001 to 2021, equivalent to a 3.7% decrease in forestation since 2000, and 204Mt of CO₂e emissions. The objectives of this partnership include supporting India’s reforestation efforts, empowering our partners and customers to act sustainably, and raising awareness of the importance of ecosystem rehabilitation.

Planting trees is one of the best ways to combat the damaging impacts of climate change. Trees clean our air and water, create habitat for biodiversity, contribute to our health and well-being, and create jobs for social impact.

The World Chess x One Tree Planted partnership is designed to simplify customer participation in global reforestation. For every chess set sold at the World Chess Shop, the company will make a donation to One Tree Planted equivalent to the cost of planting one tree. The trees will be planted by local partner organizations and community volunteers in areas where deforestation has occurred. World Chess will also monitor the effort and will keep its partners and customers informed.

“I cannot particularly speak on that” Magnus Carlsen on Hans Niemann

Magnus Carlsen is currently thriving at the Julius Baer Generation Cup Prelims but his resignation on move 2 against Niemann a couple of days ago overshadowed all success. On the final day Magnus decided to break his silence! But he actually say anything?!

Photo: Chess24 Oslo broadcast

First he [Carlsen] withdraws from the Sinquefield Cup after losing against Hans Niemann. The he tweets, indicating that there is something serious going on, but he can’t speak about it, while silently encouraging the cheating rumours. Then he resigns on move 2 against Niemann at the Julius Baer Generation Cup without saying a word afterwards. And yesterday the World Champion, after finishing the Prelims stage of the Cup with 9 full points ahead of the 2nd place, decided to comment, but without commenting!

Here is his whole interview, as presented by chess.24.

What was the reason you withdrew from the Niemann game?

“Unfortunately, I cannot particularly speak on that but people can draw their own conclusions and they certainly have. I have to say I’m very impressed by Niemann’s play and I think his mentor Maxim Dlugy must be doing a great job.”

Can you confirm whether or not you resigned on Monday due to suspecting Niemann of cheating?

“I will not comment on that.”

It’s been a dramatic time, how are you doing in all this?

“I’m OK, just living my life and trying to do well in the tournament. People who know me and followed, for instance, the tournament in Zagreb in 2019 know that I can shut things out.”

How have you been able to stay focused?

“I’m happy to play chess and that usually makes me happy. As I said, I have a lot of experience and generally it makes me... the score in the preliminaries is nice but now I’m facing a very strong opponent already in the quarters, so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything at this minute.”

Will you make a comment in the future to clarify events?

“I hope to say a little bit more after the tournament.”

Is cheating in general a problem in chess?

“I think individual people will answer the question differently depending on their own experiences. I think regardless of whether it’s a massive problem or not, it’s I think fairly easy to cheat and, on a general basis, I think that cheaters in the future should not be taken lightly either online or over the board.”

Do you have a message for youngsters thinking about cheating?

“I understand it’s tempting but, yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Are FIDE and organisers doing enough?

“It’s hard to say really. I will probably say a bit more after the tournament.”

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