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Boot to the Head

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Well, back to chess. I'll try to avoid reading a newspaper for the next four years. Hey, it works for Bush. I could make a contrived election connection to chess by making the case that having an avowedly anti-intellectual president isn't good for a game with an egghead reputation in the US. But I won't.

Instead I'll touch on the already-infamous case of FIDE vice-president and Georgian Grandmaster Zurab Azmaiparashvili's altercation with Spanish police at the closing ceremony of the Calvia Olympiad. Azmai is out of jail now and an interview with him will be at ChessBase.com soon. Basically they thought it was best to wait until Azmai was safely back in Georgia.

The unrepentant attitude of the organizers and Spanish federation is the worst of it. Instead of apologizing for what was bad policy to start and a dangerous overreaction by security, they act as though having an unarmed man beaten to the ground on the stage of a chess event was perfectly normal.

Azmaiparashvili has some thuggish qualities that have manifested at various times in public and private. There had been friction between him and the organization at several points in Calvia already. I don't doubt he tried to step by security to get to the stage. But this is really beside the point. The Olympiad is a FIDE event and if the FIDE VP wants to get on the stage and perform a naked tap-dance, well, cover the eyes of the kids and stand back. Okay, maybe not, but clearly the organizers have gone power mad when they have crack security police bludgeoning chess politicians. That should be left to the fans and the journalists.


I don't agree neither Mr. Azmaiparashvili nor FIDE. I was there, and although I didn't see Azmai's affair, I don't think that his intention was only to "advertise" organization that they didn't say Nona Gaprandashvili's name or didn't give the prize correctly, or anything else.

I'm sure that spanish police had say more things than really happened, but I'm sure they wouldn't "beaten up" Mr. Azmaiparashvili if there was no reason to do it (I don't like to defend police, and less if they are spanish...)

Don't let this become about WHY he wanted on the stage. It's irrelevant compared to what happened. Or about liking or not liking FIDE. A known official was prohibited by force, and when he didn't sit down he was beaten. I don't care if Azmai was going to sing bad karaoke up there; you don't attack someone who is not a threat. Period. If he had been a random and unknown individual who presented a potential threat to security, that's a different matter. But the people on stage obviously knew him and could have avoided this entire disaster.

I am not implying a verdict of innocent or guilty because I simply don't know, but as evidence for the prosecution I would like to submit that the strawberry on Azmai's head


would seem to imply that there is some truth to the story that instead of putting on his boogy shoes to disco with Lahno and Karjakin, he attended the Headbanger's Ball.

Yes, I was wondering about the people on stage. Was Kirsan there? I gather Campomanes was there, presenting the Nona prize that Nona had been flown in to present, which was what Azmai was complaining about. Was this a message from Kirsan not to mess with him (e.g. re Kasparov negotiations)?

I look forward to seeing Mrs. Azmai´s video. (My Spanish is not that great, but I´m fairly sure the link John Fernandez gave on the CN board said she was filming the whole time.)

First of all we still do not know who attacked first. How can we expect the Organizers to defend Azmai's case after seeing his thuggish attitude since he landed there? I am not trying to defend the Organizers here. Once the truth is revealed, we will know who is guilty here. Anyway, I think its cruel for the Police to attack an unarmed man.

As someone who lived in both (east and west) worlds, I can understand where is the confusion.
Sometimes a rule is a just a rule, like don't eat in metro or you get fined, arrested...
This concept of "rule" cannot be understanded by "east" mentality peoples. They think that a rule is just something for "ordinary" peoples, and a simple policeman cannot take any action against "power".
I guess all dictators take advantage of this mentality, persuading peoples in follow them because they are "special" and even if "ordinary" peoples suffer, nothing can happen to them. And we get holocaust, gulag...
Even after the incident Azmaiparashvili don't understand the "rule" concept. You have right, is not important why he want to go on stage, The policeman was doing his job and I'm sure he don't have a list of "special" peoples who can pass anytime and a list of "ordinary" peoples who can't pass. Sometime we want "security" to work, but hey, not so much security please.
The situation fit perfectly the profile of an old USSR leader (of any level), at least most of them in action.
Unfortunately he will never understand that he was wrong, is an education issue. Especialy with the current FIDE leaders that everybody seems to complain about because they don't follow the old rules, but hey, this time was good to not follow them, and Spanish police is evil.
Just sad.

I find it interesting that the organizers point to Amzai's "improper" hardball negotiations for a second hotel room as if this "misconduct" provides some basis to believe that Azmai actually assaulted a policeman, or some justification for the security officers' use of physical force against him. This extremely tenuous link suggests to me that organizers felt their actual "justification" for the security police's assault (namely, the alleged "head butt" by Azmai) was not very convincing (too many witnesses, maybe?) and they felt the need to attack Azmai personally to make him less sympathetic (he's greedy and a troublemaker, so why should anyone get upset if we beat him up a little bit).

I hope the incident WAS captured on video by Azmai's wife as otherwise we may never know the truth of the matter. At least in the U.S., police lie all the time (almost instinctively, it seems to me some times) to protect themselves (from internal discipline, possible criminal charges, etc.), and those arrested tend to be even more "veracity-challenged." So absent a credible account from a fairly disinterested eyewitness (I for one would like to see the full details of Paul Truong's eyewitness account of the event) or a video of the event, the truth may never out. I for one would not be surprised if the incident was similar to the "resisting arrest" incidents that occur with some frequency in the U.S. (much less now than in former times but still too often), wherein a suspect is essentially beaten up by the police and then accused of "resisting arrest" for trying to protect himself/herself during the beating.

Anyway, despite my misgivings about Azmai's role in a corrupt and witless FIDE, I think the chess world should support him (at least morally) re: this incident, at least unless and until reliable evidence proves some serious wrongdoing on his part. If there was no such wrongdoing he has been badly mistreated.

- Geof

I can understand the EAST/WEST rules. But in this case, the actors are Azmai, FIDE VP and special security agents. The rules are there. But to treat VIP there at the International event is something beyond belief. Whether Azmail is right or wrong, I dont know. But I feel sorry for what has happened to him. I think the Chess family should bear the shame.

Hmmm... I can't say I'm sorry or not before I know who's fault it is. This is the reason I post a commment here, I notice most peoples takes on side without knowing what's happen. Pro and contra is not an option here yet.
If it is his fault he just get a cheap education lesson, he should learn it for the next time the life test him. If is police fault shame on them.
But I doubt any of them would learn something.
Most likely the fault is in both sides. I never saw a picture of Azm. before and I doubt the policeman saw it. I also doubt that Azmai. care to much about such a sily thing like a rule.
We can take only after we will be well informed. As somebody say here, if you can't trust police I'm also sceptical about the FIDE press release.
It looks like a piece of our world.

I have never met Azmai until Calvia. We nodded hello to each other a few times over the two weeks. I have no reason to put my neck on the line to defend Azmai unless I saw something very bad took place.

The organizer was clearly at fault. They were told that they forgot to award a few major awards: The best male and female performance and the explanation of the Gaprindashvili award. They could have fixed it in the last 30 minutes by saying something like we saved the best for last. Instead, they refused to correct their horrible mistakes.

This was not the only police incidents there. There were at least a dozen or so other minor incidents during the time I was there. On the same night of the Azmai incident, two police came to my hotel and beat the heck out of defenseless drunk in the lobby. The guy could not even get up and they had no problem using their sticks to beat him on his leg, his arms, his back and his head. This was in front of many of us.

Azmai was definitely upset and vocal. But that is a far cry from beating up a police officer. Yes, he did try to go toward the stage. But if the guard just gives him another 10 seconds, Kirsan would have come to him to find out what he had to say.

The next morning, Shirov came to me and said that he had many problems with Azmai in the past but he also agreed that Azmai did not do anything wrong this time. The only people who felt differently were the Spanish police and organizer.

This was a sad ending to a historic event with Ukraine and USA making history.

I find the argument in his defense that since he's a FIDE honcho, security should just have ignored him and let him climb on stage or do whatever else it was he wanted to do rather weak.
I also find it hard to believe security people would react in the way they did without good reason.

All this hinges on whether or not Azmai head-butted the security person on the mouth. If he did, what happened next was unfortunate but to be expected.
If he didn't the security people overreacted.

So far it seems to be unclear if he did or did not. Without more evidence it looks like a word against word type of situation.
A single audience member saying he personally didn't see the 'head-butt' does not prove it didn't happen.

How the people on stage could have avoided this I don't know. Was there enough time? Did they realize what was going on? Should they have jumped in and joined the fight?

I was not the only witness. There were many more who gave full testimony to the police. What happened was an "accident". As he went forward and they pushed him backward, contact occured. I believe the injury on the top of his head was caused by that accidental contact. The top of his head hit one of the police in the mouth. His black eye was caused after by the police later.


What Mr Truong added is enough for you?

And for all of you,

If I was one of the organizers I'd feel uncomfortable with the fact that someone ended up in jail for a couples of days because we didn't say Nona Gaprandashvili's name or didn't give the prize correctly, or ...

Also when I read pure PR bullsh**ing like "Amzai's negotiations for a second hotel room". It leaves me wondering... What are they trying to hide from us?

And for some of you folks! I wish you cheap education lesson while spending a couple of days in jail, and why not in foreign country as well. ;-)

Com'on guys!

Mr Truong added just enough (thank you): the "accident" was happened. Amzai. deserved to go to jail for this? I don't know, but I know if I was in his place I surely ended there, like the woman who entered to the metro few days ago with an icecream in hand and ended in jail (for this and a "verbal accident" with a policeman only. You cannot "negociate" with a cop, neigther verbaly or phisicaly.
The foreign country argument don't stand. Also the "is somebody" argument.
But I'm not happy he ended in jail! I never said this. I just suggest, like very few others, that PERHAPS he deserved.
And for chess for sure was not a good publicity anyway.

It is obvious that the security over-reacted. They were probably prejudiced by some arguments he had with them before.
Some questions:
- Did the incident involve private/hotel security or was it Spanish police? The reason for my asking has to do with reports that the event was held in a casino and the security in such places tends to be rough (more like bouncers).


It is irrelevant:
- if Azmaiparashvili has a nasty personality or not;
- if he is like a Soviet official or not;
- if FIDE is a bunch of corrupt rascals or not;
- if Azmaiparashvili was trying to get on stage or not (and if yes why);
- if he is a VIP (or 'somebody') or not;
- if he 'deserved' it (whatever you mean by this) or not;
- and IMHO even if he actually head-butted the security guard (which is really hard to believe) or not!

You just don't beat up a man if you are the majority side in a six vs one conflict. In the worst case you bring him down and hold him (or 'see him out'), and later duly apologise when he turns out to be the vice-president of the very organisation the ceremony of which you were guarding. You don't beat up a man in handcuffs, not to mention beating his wife. You would not even do anything like this even if the guy was a drunken hobo coming in from the street and terrorising the entire hall with his penetrating odour. Bring him down, get him out, but no need to hit or kick at all if you are 6 vs 1 and he is not Jackie Chan or Jet Li or so. And you do not try to offer ridiculous justifications like the Spanish organisers and their police did. Shame on them.

Misi and Mig,

Exactly.. I was completely bemused when I scrolled down, for some people actually seemed to think he merited the treatment!! Or that more information was necessary before they took "sides"!! Are you kidding?? Its illegal for the police to beat up a multiple serial killer, never mind anybody else. He was nearly blinded for Pete's sake! Read the latest article on chess base. What kind of world do you guys inhabit?

Read the last intervo\iew with Azmai at chessbase.com
As Mr Truong stated it was an contact "accident", why this can't be in both ways? I don't see myself in such an "accident" with few cops, but this is just me. By "deserving" I meaned that he was going to them, so he start everything. Police overreacted for sure, but this can be always expected.
Everybody seems to forgot about Fischer and his months on prison... yes, he can be found unguity too. It's interesting to watch overeaction on both situations from autorities and normal peoples too.

I was at the closing ceremonies and saw Azmai come to speak to someone on two (maybe three) occassions in front of me. He was obviously upset at something and was gesturing toward the stage. I thought he was complaining about his view being blocked by photographers (of which I was one) or some disturbance in his seating area. Earlier I had seen Azmai right behind me talking to a lady about an issue. Shortly after they banned all picture-taking at the front (which is why I thought Azmai was complaining about photographers). Minutes later is when I saw the increasingly heated exchange between Azmai and apparently Mr. Rami. Azmai went up front to speak to someone else and then went to Mr. Rami. I sat in the middle section behind Paul Truong and Susan Polgar and they had full view of the interaction since they were a row behind where Azmai approached the official.

The program continued and as Kirsan Ilyumzhinov completed his remarks a scuffle ensued and I heard a woman shouting and then the shout turned into a scream. I thought the lady was protesting against Kirsan for some reason and was screaming because she was being handled by security. It was only later that I found out from Paul Truong what had happened. The lady screaming was Azmai's wife, Marina. At the press conference she was in tears. Horrible sight to see.

It seems to me that chess just has to be "special" at any cost:-) This is so horrible that it becomes funny...Can you imagine a top official of any other organisation being beaten up at their own ceremony?

And the Spanish organisers' follow-up? Shouldn't they stand by their guy rather than the other side? I am convinced that if the local organisers insisted, Mr. Azmaiparashvili wouldn't even be taken to the police station or would be released much faster as a worst case scenario.

Why the chess people are not able to co-operate even in such situations? How can we expect such a complex issue as WC reunification to be ever completed?

As Horacio says, the behavior of the Spanish federation is the most disappointing. I am curious about the coverage in the Spanish press (Le figaro etc.).

I'm not sure the French press has caught wind of this, K. But seriously, El Pais with the estimable chess journalist Leonxto Garcia (one of the few truly professional chess journalists, in all senses of what that expression could mean), has an article. It's a paid subscription site, unfortunately. I've asked Leonxto to mail me his piece and will recap it with comments at ChessBase.com.

From what I've seen so far, the Spanish press has been on the Spanish side, basically going with th organizers' line that not only did Azmai hit first, but that he had it coming in one way or another. As if being a pain in the neck to the organizers could merit being beaten by police. If that were the case Walter Browne would have been killed by the cops decades ago!

But both I've found mention that this "official version" is disputed.

There are also a few reports alleging that Georgia basically threw the last-round match to their Caucasian cousins Armenia to give them a medal shot. They say there was a big jump in the online betting on that match and the Armenian chances of a medal, too.


There are no two sides to it. The police are paid professionals, who have to subdue the reincarnation of Bruce Lee, Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson if need be, but have no right to subsequently beat whoever it is up while he is handcuffed and in custody. This is the law of civilised society. If they catch a serial child rapist and murderer, under law, he is offered protection from physical abuse, tho he wont get it of course. The only civilised country I know which legally sanctions physical punishment is Singapore, which allows canings and whippings, but still after court adjudication. By your way of thinking, anybody who gets in a scuffle can legitimately be beaten up, anybody accused of rape can be sodomised, and anybody accused of murder can have his head chopped off I guess. Most of the rest of the world dont agree, and that is why when something like this happens people are outraged, because it undermines the very fabric of society, and the rules that govern it. Its not an "overeaction" by any means, which is why the Georgian Foreign Minister has complained as I read on ChessBase.

I dont think its a overreaction by Spanish police. After reading, how they cruelly beat the drunken man in the hotel lobby as well as Azmai, I can come to the conclusion these are criminals, murderers. These criminals from Organizers to everyone who is involved there should be punished. I had some respect for Spain and their people. Not anymore. Shame for Spain. I thought such an incident can happen in communist countries. To see this thing in Spain by Spanish Police, what can the free world should think now. Its shame even for us, these our so called friends Spanish Chess Federation joined those criminal Police supporting them. These are wolves in sheep clothing. The Chess world should unite and condemn this act, demand justice in this case.

From Paul Truong's post:

"Azmai was definitely upset and vocal. But that is a far cry from beating up a police officer. Yes, he did try to go toward the stage. But if the guard just gives him another 10 seconds, Kirsan would have come to him to find out what he had to say."

According to Azmaiparahvilli's Chessbase interview, what Paul Truong says here is not true. He never tried to get to the stage.

This seems pretty clear to me: Azmaiparashvilli is not used to obeying protocol and felt that as a high-ranking FIDE official, he could be allowed to break the rules. The organizers didn't agree with this idea and conflict ensued.

In all fairness, it's hard to believe that police officers would attack Azmaiparashvili out of the blue, or just because he was talking to them.

Anyway, this is part of the fun, isn't it?

Let the chess carnival continue.


I did not know you use "Fox News" type of reporting. What is this "They say there was a big jump ..." line of argument. First who is they, second was there jump in the betting if so how much? Basically what I am asking for is facts not just hearsay. Also I am curious did someone analyse the games? If it was a thrown game then it should be quite easy to see how three boards loose. I personally will be looking at the games with the help of my computer, but I would very much appriciate if you could have someone IM/GM strength take a look at them and come to a verdict. If it is demonstrated that it was "arranged" then meadals shuld be returned!!


That's why Paul says "toward the stage," and not "on the stage." Still all irrelevant, although not to the legal case.

There's no need to condemn an entire country. But there is a long track-record of friction with authoritarian Spanish organizers. As much as they have done to promote the game, many seem to get into it because it allows them to act like the return of Franco.

On a side note, how did Mig remember that article on Bush from over a year ago?!

Kind of a funny article, shows who was "out of touch with the country"!

Mig says

"There's no need to condemn an entire country. But there is a long track-record of friction with authoritarian Spanish organizers. As much as they have done to promote the game, many seem to get into it because it allows them to act like the return of Franco."

It's not that Spanish organizers are dictator wannabes. It's that they know your average grandmaster is an uneducated, unkempt and quite rude asshole who has no social manners whatsover.
Now, NOT EVERY GRANDMASTER IS LIKE THIS. There are MANY good natured, well-educated, decent, bright players out there. But it's NOT UNCOMMON to find the nasty psychos in every tournament hall. Anyone who has played tournament chess knows what I'm talking about.

So, it's understandable that organizers have to be overly protective of the time, energy and money the pour into these events. They know what type of people they are dealing with.

I would do the same.

LAT, if you want facts instead of hearsay you should go to another blog. Like "The Daily Facts". I'm not going to exhaustively source every comment I make here; I was just mentioning some of what I've read in the Spanish papers.

There is a difference between a match and a game. Georgia played both reserves against Armenia, which is of dubious sportsmanship at best in a final round match against a medal contender. But Georgia is a very balanced team and they played both reserves on several other occasions during the Olympiad.

Say what you will about Azmai, but the pics on the German ChessBase site are pretty bad. Basically we see Azmai getting his ass kicked, and we seem to be lacking any injured cops.

In spite of all of this, why doesn't the United States host more chess events? Our police are just as hospitable as the Spanish police!
Oh well, Azmai will heal but Spain's reputation in the chess community may not.

1) Our federation is ridiculous
2) It is much more expensive to stay here, and get here
3) Who wants to play under stupid US rules?

When I read that, I started scratching my head:

"Open Letter to FIDE and Georgian Chess Federation

by WGM Ana Matnadze

During last two weeks a significant number of world intellectuals was closely paying attention to the World Chess Olympiad, 2004, which took place in Spain. It was a great festivity for both chess players and chess friends, but it was partly ruined by the terrible incident that happened during the closing ceremony. I am not going to judge who was right and who was wrong; this is a privilege of Spanish Law Enforcement Agencies. I just want to say that if FIDE and Georgian Chess Federation had listened to and implemented a slogan of my open letter, which I wrote in June, 2004 with WGM Lela Javakhishvili and addressed it to FIDE and World Chess Society – “FIDE without Azmaiparashvili”, this disgusting fact would not have occurred. If FIDE had published our letter on it’s web-site, if Mr.Georgios Makropoulos and other FIDE executives had opportunity to express their opinion on Mr. Azmaiparashvili’s actions and if FIDE had not limit itself only with an irrelevant response by Stefanova and Kovalevskaya, which provoked only smiles all around the world, I believe, that we would not have witnessed the show, performed by Mr. Azmaiparashvili, which ruined this beautiful day for all chess players.

I was completely shocked by speeches of some representatives of Georgian Chess Federation made during the press-conference, organized by Georgian Chess Federation, on the 1st of November. We all understand that it is not an honorable action to hit a person, who is already on his/her knees, but how could we interpret words of some GrandMasters saying: “It’s true, that Azmaiparashvili often provokes conflicts, but he is a real man and he protested against disrespect towards Georgia”. How was disrespect towards Georgia expressed and why this issue becomes a political one? It’s a nonsense. Why they use name of Nona Gaprindashvili to justify this incident? Some speakers at the press-conference did not even attend the closing ceremony and have no idea, how the incident happened. Maybe it would be better if these people, first of all, respected their country and Mrs. Nona Gaprindashvili and attended the ceremony of awarding a coup named after her? Or maybe, it would be better if Mr. Azmaiparashvili protested against statement of Israeli Men Chess team, which accused Georgian Team of intentionally and deliberately giving up their scores in the last round? This is where reputation of Georgia was indeed shaken.

Nobody would accuse Spanish Law Enforcement Agencies for their actions as far as they were following their duty and were protecting chess society both in their country and in the world.

The time has come that everybody, FIDE, Georgian Chess Federation, and Mr. Azmaiparashvili himself, start evaluating events and incidents that he is involved in and, finally, come to a relevant conclusion. Never being penalized before for his actions created an atmosphere where everything is permitted for him and this threatens Azmaiparashvili’s reputation, carrier and even his life…

Concluding, I address FIDE and Georgian Chess Federation again and again, to take into consideration all we have said above, respect opinions of any chess player and limit actions of ambitious and aggressive people.


Ana Matnadze"

Ok, so the guy ( or those guys ) is ( are ) missbehaving, doing wrong things... and this allows policemen from Spain to beat 'em???

It reminds me of what some folks here are doing to a former predsident of my chess federation. They hate him so much that they never lose any opportunities to give him a real *good old cheap shot*. You can disagree with what a president, a politician or anyone else is doing but that does not allows you to take your hockey and slash him while a team mate is holding him. Even if he slashed you previously, you'll both end-up in the penalty box! *period*

And for answering her on this raised question ( How was disrespect towards Georgia expressed and why this issue becomes a political one? ). As a citizen of my country I hope that diplomats of my coutry's embassys would get involved if someone was saying that my rights were violated when I got arrested in a foreign country. And from there it obviouosly becomes a political issue.

And I'm still scratching my head as Spanish Law Enforcement Agencies are protecting chess society both in their country and in the world. ;-p

Well, well, well. Mig is now playing the censor if you choose to disagree with his political views. The profanity on this message board can stay, but dare to disagree with Mig's repeated political remarks, and he'll pull your post. A message board, but only if you agree with Mig.

Hi, everyone!

There is allways a problem with so called "security" (and particularly after 11. of September - paranoia in full power!)... Obviously in this case spanish organizers and high represantatives of FEDA resented Azmai's previous behaviour. And finally Azmai's outburst at the closing ceremony seemed to be perfect opportunity to get even with him. I think it's as simple: common sense! It was an act of revenge. Security agents are trained to beat and kill (if necessary), they were "just" acting by orders. Who gave them s u c h orders? The same one's which are defending security agent's abuse of power, evidently.

I am not a fan of Azmai (from everything I heard about his attitude - I dislike him) BUT we must stand up for him when something like this happens. Irrespective of his personal qualities...

When Chess Olympiad was organised in my country (Bled 2002) I was complaining about unkindness of our security agents...
I apologise for my english, it's far from perfect!

Just a thought:

Could you imagine what would have happened if these same type of security officers were at Linares 2003 when Kasparov got on the stage and protested the best game prize (AKA his loss to Radjabov).


I agree with Mig here.

The chessbase pictures of Azmaiparashvili were grotesque. Apparently, the Spanish Inquisition still exists.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 3, 2004 7:40 AM.

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