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Kamsky-Short, 1994/2006

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As everyone keeps posting about, Gata Kamsky and Nigel Short had a chat spat during the Playchess commentary today. Nigel was looking to settle a score from 1994, when they played a PCA candidates match full of enough insult and acrimony to make Topalov-Kramnik look like a Buddhist ceremony. I dug up the contemporaneous reports on the match to refresh my memory. There are certainly some similiarities between Elista and that match in Linares (Danailov and Kamsky count bathroom visits; Short counted Kamsky coughs), but I'd like to think Topalov has more control over Danailov than Kamsky had over his choleric father. And apparently match officials have gotten dumber over the years.

I didn't know Kamsky then, although I met him and his father briefly later in 1994 in Buenos Aires. He's been such a charmer since returning to the scene a few years ago that digging up all these things from what was practically a former life isn't really fair. Not that Short should sympathize similarly, of course, but if 1994 reflected poorly on the Kamskys, today's online aggression reflects poorly on Short in 2006. He rebuffed Gata's attempts to deflect the accusations amicably until eventually things got out of hand. That's a pretty old axe to grind. Aren't we supposed to get older and wiser instead of just older? I suppose Gata could have apologized for his father threatening Short's life in the dining room after game 4. On the other hand, if Gata took the time to apologize to everyone his dad offended back then his own child would grow up fatherless.

A mercifully brief recap of the 1994 match: After winning the first three games Kamsky caught a cold and was sniffling and hacking at the board. An annoyed Short suggested - during the game, a violation of PCA rules - that Kamsky drink some water. Kamsky lost the game. An engraged Rustam Kamsky accosted Short in the restaurant after game 4 and said "If you keep breaking the rules I will kill you!" (Now that's a provocation, Danailov you piker.) Short even filed a police report, though no charges were filed. Kamsky went on to win the next two and then draw to win the match 5.5-1.5. There were various protests from the Kamsky side during the match, including, I believe, about trips to the bathroom (!) and making eye contact with another player (Anand) during the games. I'm not sure if any of these protests came before the game 4 incident.

I copied the chat text (for the various GM analysis comments, actually) but all the misspellings give me tsuris. I see Susan Polgar has most of it up for the world to see, but she has added her own comments and superfluous "he said, he said" texts, which is rather against the spirit of the medium. Mystic Rollmops has a clean version here, if you must.

Speaking of Kamsky and matches, my fellow Brooklynite tells me FIDE is now offering a $15K prize fund for the candidates. That will actually come out to less than what the guys who didn't make the candidates got in Khanty-Mansiysk! We can call this "getting Shiroved," or "getting Cazorlaed," i.e. being paid less than the guy you beat. As Kamsky points out, if such a low fund had been proposed from the start, it would have been relatively easy to find sponsors. Now it looks like they'll play everything in, you guessed it, Elista, in April.


Short has said in some interview that he regrets turning down Kasparov's offer to lease two of his bodyguards for the duration of the Kamsky match.

I too was following the chat-spat comments as they occurred. Nigel Short came off sounding like a sore loser who isn't able to get past a 12-year-old grudge against his opponent's [i.e. his conquerer's] father. I'm not usually so brusque, but Short's comments were really egregious and counter-productive.

Well yes, Kamsky could have and should have apologized for his father's false accusations and death threats. Instead, Kamsky basically challenged Short to a back alley fight. Apparently the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. No wonder the Kamskys are cozy with Sam Sloan. Not that Nigel Short is known for his decency but he had a point today and I'm glad he made it.

I witnessed the exchange; in the beginning it was sort of fun but it soon became painfull to follow. This sort of stuff doesn't belong in the public chat arena of Playchess!

I think the statute of limitations has run out, and it makes Nigel look like a sore loser to bring them up now. As far as I can tell, Gata won the games fair and square.

On the other hand, Gata can't be unaware of his father's thuggish behavior, and it wouldn't hurt to acknowledge and apologize for it.

I copied their dialog, and removed everything but both Kamsky and Short's chats. You can see it there (ignore french comments)


MysticRollmops: Thanks a lot! It waa really revealing to see how low they can go...

Apologize?? After getting ambushed in a public forum about an incident from 12 years ago -
Yeah, right.

Another point scored for the Average Joe who thinks top chess players are crazy.


The child atoning for the sins of his father: it's an old narrative. I harldy know the details of the Kamsky-Short match in 1994, and, honestly, except for some prurient impulse in me (which I'm trying to resist), I don't really care. Several things occur to me, though:

(1) From the litte I know of him on ICC, Kamsky is a class act: generous with his comments (he practically gave a free commentary today on ICC), tolerant of, and generally good-humoured about, the inevitable chatter about his past (especially with regard to his father), and all-round nice guy. I'm sure I speak for many regulars on ICC when I say that it is a better place for having people like Kamsky on it. Short has obviously a different experience of Kamsky -- and he's entitled to it -- but, as Mig has pointed out, how responsible was the 18-year-old Gata for the actions of his father?

(2) There are death-threats and there are death-threats. It is the characteristic response of the ineffective whiner to take everything at face value, no matter how obviously exaggerated. Short would obviously disagree about the spirit in which the threat was offered -- and, let's face it, he was there -- but I find it hard to believe it was anything more than anger spilling into ludicrousness. Short has every right to feel that this was beyond the pale, but a serious threat on his life?...

(3) I also think Susan Polgar's comments about the spat are very well-taken: it serves as a salutory reminder of the extraordinary stresses and pressures these critical situations place on the participants, causing them to behave in ways that in a more dispassionate light they would consider wrong, abhorrent, etc. That Polgar owned up to such a possibility herself is to her credit.

so Kamsky was hitting on Anand during the game??

No surprise for Short's behaviour. He currently lives in Athens and he is a well known slanderer in the Greek chess circles. Danailov is really a saint compared to Short.

Did the father speak good English? Maybe he meant "I will kiss you." What did Silva say to Liddell because of bad English? "I want to fight Chuck"? Is it illegal to wear earplugs if you don't want to hear hacks? Better yet listen to some music, flow with it. What song was popular in the 90s? "Beat It"? Show how strong and funky is your fight or something like that. Good tune.

Nigel Short is jealous that Kamsky has made a return and is kicking ass... How could he still be pissed off about something that happened 12 years ago when Gata was still a young teenager being bullied by his crazy dad.

I think Kamsky is a class act, and Nigel is a has been that can't get over it

I agree with Theorist on all points, esp. point (1). And Mig hit the nail on the head about Gata's inital attempts to amicably deflect "Shorty's" accusations.

Nice to see words like "choleric" and "tsuris" used (and contextual obligations observed) in a post about the father of esoteric words, GM Shorty (speaking, of course, with respect to his obviously short stature as measured by his character displayed today).

Once again the only way for chessplayers to really settle it is outside in the alley.

It's hard to feel any sympathy for Short, even if he was the injured party at the time. His obit for Tony Miles still leaves a bad taste several years later.

Sirocco (first comment in this thread): Short's comment after the Kamsky match: "Chess is becoming more and more like boxing. A year ago, when the PCA insisted on me having two bodyguards during the match with Kasparov, I thought it was stupid. Now, I understand it."

I happen to like both guys a great deal, but I watched the comments. Clearly Nigel feels quite wronged, and Gata has some rather bad memories of that time also.

These situations become amazingly stressful and very deeply personal. In a competitive sport like chess, you're bound to see this every now and then.

I remember the match very well. I think Short had every reason to be upset at the time, but he should also now realize (and I'm sure realized at the time) that Rustam was not "a member of Gata's delegation" - it was closer to being the other way around, and that things have changed a great deal since then.

That said, I suppose Kamsky might be able to say "look, my dad had his ideas about how to run my chess career, and at the time I went along with them. In retrospect, I don't agree with all of them now and let's leave it at that." His "I don't even remember" was really pretty lame, as it was not exactly an unmemorable event.

Come on guys, we all know that Nigel have a glass (or two)of wine at hand while watching the games. Add to this the actual situation, that have similarities with his past match with Gata and this is the result.

FYI, Kamsky was 20 at the time.

Yeah, it's annoying because they can both be cool froods and it's always rough to see people you like not getting along. Spolgar's comments about the effects of pressure were somewhat facile but head-to-head competition rarely leads to chumminess. And in a sport like chess, where psychology and concentration are everything, this sort of stuff is inevitable and tends to escalate.

Yah, I didn't want to mention the glass of wine factor, but I'm sure it was there!

To put the Short-Kamsky exchange in context, it came right after Kamsky refused to take any position in the dispute between Danailov and Kramnik. My impression was that Kamsky's refusal to stand up for what was right in Short's eyes reminded Short of Kamsky's refusal to stand up to
his father in the previous incident. The various logs of the conversation really should begin with
Kamsky's comment about the current match:

"Ok, I'm not taking sides in this match, ...."

After this comment Short's attack can at least be seen as relevant.

Getting away from Short and Kamsky for a second...

Is this $15,000 prize fund for candidates supposed to be $15,000 per match, or is this $15,000 for everyone total in a round-robin? The latter comes out to less than $1000 per person, which sounds like it can't possibly be right...but FIDE sounded set on replacing the matches with a round-robin.

Is the candidates situation really that bad?

I don't know why people are rushing to defend Kamsky so readily. His behaviour both on and off the board at the time are well documented and were quite frankly, disgraceful. I was pleased when he originally announced his retirement.

I enjoyed reading Kamsky's selective amnesia, one moment saying that he doesn't remember anything and the next accusing Short of cheating.

Kamsky's comment: "we can settle this like real men, outside. I'll be waiting" only goes to show that a 'a leopard never changes its spots'.

Maybe Kamsky should have done the decent thing by apologising, before the situation got out of hand.

"On the other hand, Gata can't be unaware of his father's thuggish behavior, and it wouldn't hurt to acknowledge and apologize for it."

Yep, in a fairytale world you can choose what is "right", over your feelings for a father who has passed on.

Short asking Gata to apologize for his father is like saying, "Stop loving your father for a moment, and acknowledge the truth with me. Then together, we can trample on his memory." Not gonna happen.

Was Rustam a trainwreck of a human, like David Helfgott's father in the movie "Shine"? Yes. Does Gata still have a transcendent love for him that allows him to forgive those transgressions? Obviously yes.

Short has a telephone pole up his ass. Gata gave him about eight chances at an out, but Short would not take it. He kept pursuing it like some jilted stalker. Uh, 1994 called and wants its stuck up Englishman back.

Actually, opponents with a cold or cough are a genuine problem. I played recently at the next table to the Russian GM Neverov. I don't think he had a cold particularly, but what he does have is a nervous cough which he does every thirty seconds or so, much more frequently when it is his move rather than his opponent's, curiously. How his opponent put up with it I don't know. If I'd been he I'd have politely explained that I'm an amateur and I prefer not to play rather than put up with this, and gone for a walk instead.

I was finding it damned irritating myself. I went and fetched the fellow a glass of water and handed it to him (doubtless breaching all sorts of laws myself) but he just looked surprised and carried on.

What can you do though? It's not good for a GM to have developed a habit like this, not good at all, but what do you do? In the end you either default people for these small inconsideratenesses and look disproportionate (besides, needs an arbiter with balls, not gonna happen), or they gain an undeniable small advantage.

Theorist, amongst other incidents, Gata's dad had hit GM John Fedorowicz over the head before. Maybe without any prior history, you might take a death threat with a grain of salt, but in this case, it would only seem prudent to file a complaint.

I can believe that Kamsky forgot something that happened a decade ago. Short either had an axe to grind or needed some closure to the incident, and saw his opportunity to speak to Kamsky and took it, saying what he needed to say. If fighting solves problems it's only because both people get to release all their unhealthy rage and when they're spent and huffing for breath all the rage is released and not boiling inside of them. But if you want to fight someone like Wanderlei Silva


who will knock you out without him or you getting tired then that doesn't solve any problems.

Short should grow up and just accept that he got his butt kicked in the match and by running his mouth almost got his butt kicked physically.

Alcohol as an excuse is feeble.

If you really want to play everything in Elista, why not have a real candidates cycle there? Few people want to host 1/8 final...but if you make it a semifinal and final candidates match, people might want to participate.

Honestly, I understand the need for including many players in the cycle but the truth of the matter is there are probably no more than four-five players in the world who can claim to be the best without getting a laugh in response. Holding the tournament between just those players should be sufficient--anything else is just bonus.

"Short should grow up and just accept that he got his butt kicked in the match and by running his mouth almost got his butt kicked physically"

Not that physical violence is the right way to go about things. Nobody physically assaulted Short so he should get over it. I imagine most people have been threatened and usually can get over it within 10+ years.

>>>>"Not that Nigel Short is known for his decency but he had a point today and I'm glad he made it."

Agreed. (on all counts ;))

"I apologize for the behaviour of my father." Incident closed.

But instead:
" i don't want to talk about it, but if you want to do something about this, we can settle this like real men, outside. I'll be waiting"


I like Nigel, but I have to side w/Gata on this one. He handled it well and appropriately. It is an American tradition to "take it outside" if you have to be an "a**" about things, so kudos to Kamsky!

It was Nigel who brought up things that happened 12 years ago (for no apparent reason). Gata had no choice but to defend himself and I must say he did a pretty good job. True, what happened in 1994 was bad but geez, if Kasparov and Campomanes can make up, and Karpov and Korchnoi can make up, why not these two?

Settle it the old fasioned way, 12-game match with no toilets for anyone.

"It is an American tradition to "take it outside""

Another tradition is watching too many bad Hollywood films featuring actors who would choke on a multi-syllable word, but are gifted at solving problems by beating someone senseless, and uttering nifty catch phrases like, "Bring 'em on". ;-)

As others have pointed out, the discussion between these two came about after Kamsky refused to take sides in this match (with regards to the actions of Kramnik and Topalov). It's not as though Kamsky said, "How about those Detroit Tigers," and Short responded by bringing up circumstances from their 1994 match.

Unfortunately, like all of us, Gata Kamsky has a history that he must live with. While it's nice that he's been such an amiable chap since his comeback, it doesn't entirely excuse him from the wrongs done in his name. He bears at least _some_ responsibility for what his deranged father did (and I've never seen an apology from him for his many bizarre escapades; even a single blanket apology would have sufficed).

Short, on the other hand, was needlessly and fruitlessly aggressive. If you want an apology, attacking someone in a public forum isn't the best way to get it.

I didn't find Kamsky's attempts to defuse the situation especially good-natured. I found them dismissive, almost insultingly so, considering that his father had delivered death threats in his name. Also, had he tried to actually debate Short, he would gotten hammered, as Nigel is much more articulate than him.

"Also, had he tried to actually debate Short, he would gotten hammered, as Nigel is much more articulate than him."

I wouldn't be too sure of that. Kamsky does have a law degree after all.

Just compare how they actually write. Short is a columnist and a native English speaker (not that I begrudge Gata his foreignness, but unfortunately they can't debate in Russian).

"I wouldn't be too sure of that. Kamsky does have a law degree after all."

-->Even a blind pig can find a grain of corn once in a while.

Is it me, or am I the only one who thinks you can love your dad, and still acknowledge that he did wrong, and apologize for some of his actions if requested or appropriate? How much would it have cost GM Kamsky to say "I'm sorry" and move on?

Some of us were alive in 1994, and remember details of that match somewhat well. I was rooting for GM Kamsky at the time, but switched my puny support, as his father started "affecting things", to put it mildly.

In any case, from available evidence, Kamsky did not have nearly the amount of control over what happened in 1994 as Topalov has now, so while there are similarities, the situations are quite different.

Right, Okechukwu -- exactly. Gata clearly owes Short, and the chess world, an apology for the wrongs done by his delegation. I remember well the father's extraordinarily thuggish behavior on his son's behalf.

Short was right to ask for an apology, but unfortunately he pursued it in an aggressive and counter-productive way.

Nigel Short was perfectly entitled to make the remarks he did. After all he was the one who was accused of cheating and who recieved death threats. He is owed an apology. It seems obvious that to this day Gata has not apologized to him. He has had years to do it on ICC or on Playchess (if they haven't met in person). Kamsky's comments are shocking. He should have just apologized, but instead he doesn't seem to feel any remorse and even resorts to childlish threats of violence.

A human being is a product of his past. It is something you cannot escape, and something Kamsky, it seems, is still to come into terms with.

Perhaps Kamsky isn't this nice guy you portray him as? He can act one, you know? The human nature goes much deeper than what you can judge from polite kibs on chess servers, or from having some nice chitchat with him in person.

How can you defend his comments or attitude here? His father made Danailov look a saint. And he pretends he doesn't remember and gets abusive and aggressive.

I hope he comes to his senses and apologizes to Nigel. He doesn't have a leg to stand on here.

The son like the father? Hopefully not.

Guys, he was put on the spot in public and had to talk about the things his deceased father did twelve years ago. That sort of stuff should have been handled in private.
Considering how pleasant he's been since his return to chess, and the amount of change someone goes through between 18 and 30, we should try not to hold it against him. It's tough for a teenager to go against his dad; and while an apology would be nice, a public confrontation isn't the way to get it.

All right, I think I have to write my opinion, once and for all, on things that happened 12 years ago in my match vs. Short. Needless to say, since memory is selective and facts can be skewed to support anyone's position, people will have to draw conclusions for themselves. What I am going to do is just to post the way I saw things develop at a time.
Ok, since all candidates matches were played at same time, there were two pairs on the stage. Adams vs. Anand and Kamsky vs. Short. If I remember correctly, I won first 3 games which happened without incident. I get sick, something that happened rare back then, the night before the 4th game. I play black and get worse position, in addition to having cough, headache and wooziness. Next thing I hear is Short telling to drink a glass of water to suppress my cough or to do something about it. I lose all concentration and am now more concerned about stiffling my cough than thinking about the game. Needless to say that game I lost. Now this is where it all starts. Look at this from this point of view. Nigel Short, former challenger for the title of world champion, played for many years, including numerous matches. Do you really think he didn't know that rules exist which prevent talking between players during the course of the game and that you have to ask the arbiter in order to communicate something to your opponent? It's laughable to suggest that he didn't know. Therefore, the only conclusion one can draw is that Nigel did that on purpose in order to inflict psychological attack on me, to disturb my concentration (which any top player will tell you is the most important thing to play well at high level) and he succeeded. I lost that game basically without putting up a fight. Also during the course of the game, Nigel was walking back and forth to the restroom area which was accessible by other candidates and was seen talking or at least exchanging some words with Anand. I don't care if it was a simple hello. Such attitude only shows total disrespect to your opponent and provocation as part of the psychological warfare off the chess board. Every little factor that makes an effect on your opponent's vital concentration during the game is crucial to the result of the game and possible rest of the games in the match. I never used such psychological tricks myself and never plan on doing so. The only thing I could do and what I did was to tell my father about the incident. I am sure I don't have to explain the kind of feeling you can get when you've lost as a result of someone's provocation or a violation of rules and when such result cannot be overturned regardless of how right you are. My father indeed had a quick temper and it caused him to speak with Nigel that same evening, and the words that were said was an over-reaction and I am sorry my father happened to over-react in such way. Nigel obviously wasn't such a helpless sheep, as the police was soon called and took my father for the questioning. My father later was ordered not to show up in the tournament hall for the duration of the match, and it was complied with.

However, and I want to stress this point, this entire mess was started and caused by Nigel himself, when he realized that match could not be won by chess means and started resorting to psychological tricks. Obviously Mr. Short didn't expect the response he received, but "what you reap is what you saw" is, I believe, an old proverb and it perfectly applies in this case.

All this other stuff about being responsible for your entire delegation is just a cover for what is obviously a severe blow to Nigel's personal ego of losing match.

As for my short sentences during the chat, I felt that it was time to forget about things long in the past and wanted to avoid the confrontation with Nigel. I came to playchess to watch the game, because ICC server relayer went down and imagine my surprise when Nigel started throwing insults at me. It is very easy to hide behind the keyboard and throw accusations, however I don't intend to passively ignore such challenges to my honor, hence my proposal to settle the dispute in the time honored and traditional way.

I rest my case.

So asking you to drink some water because your cough is annoying, is a psychological trick?
Yes i can certainly see what a bastard Short was and
he certainly deserved to have his life threatened so.

Does anybody remember what prize fund (per match) was originally **promised** by FIDE/Kirsan? Well, the one change in conditions that players HATE to see is reduction in a Prize Fund. Now Kirsan will have to convince the players to participate, otherwise half of the matches might be walk-overs.

Still, I hope that the matches come off. If they are all played at the same time in Elista, it ought to be quite a spectacle

Maybe the Candidate's Matches Prize fund was reallocated to mollify Kramnik. I have a feeling that Kirsan agreed to pay certain financial inducements in order to help Kramnik swallow the bitter pill of the forfeit loss. Even if Kramnik loses to Topalov, he may still end with more money. Given his coup in Cazorla, he seems to have a knack for it.
Speaking of Kamsky and matches, my fellow Brooklynite tells me FIDE is now offering a $15K prize fund for the candidates. That will actually come out to less than what the guys who didn't make the candidates got in Khanty-Mansiysk! ... Now it looks like they'll play everything in, you guessed it, Elista, in April.

Grandmaster Kamsky:

So you apologized for your father here on this comments page. Don't you think you could have said the exact same thing during that chat with Short? I think Short's reaction to a death threat was understandable - I think that if my life were threatened, I'd probably carry that with me for a long time.

Apologizing for a death threat made by your father doesn't make Nigel Short right about any of the other issues.

Thank you for your post, Gata. I saw you come on the Playchess server but had to leave at that moment for an appointment.

I don't know Nigel Short personally, but I have met and spoken with you several times and watched you play in tournaments. In my opinion you are one of the kindest, fairest and friendliest grandmasters that I have known (and I know many, although most of them are not actively playing anymore).

I didn't witness the exchange nor will I read it. From the comments I know it was not pleasant - for anyone.

Not taking sides in this current chess debacle is your right, and is a poor excuse for starting an acrimonious exchange in public. I am sure both you and Nigel have bad memories of that time, but it was many years ago. Now you are beautifully building your chess skills back up, and I expect that if Kramnik wins this match, you will have the chance and become the World Champion in the not too distant future.

Sadly, I am convinced that should Topalov be declared the victor, then the chance for a proper World Champion to exist will be lost, at least for the foreseeable future, and quite possibly until you are past your prime.

I hope that you and Nigel will be able to ‘bury the hatchet’ even if you don’t become best buddies. I wish only good for both of you.

It's easy to see both sides of the story, I think. Susan was right. The pressures of a match amplify the negatives of the situation. I can see why Gata would see Nigel's actions as outragous and at the same time; I can see how Nigel would say something if Gata was disrupting his concentration with his coughing. I hope they let it rest. I wonder if we'll ever see a WC match without psychological ploys?

I agree with Nigel Short that the player needs to take responibility for his team. But this is very different in my eyes. Rustam is not Gata's henchman he is his FATHER.

Gata is now the same age as Topalov. If he were going around and still allowign his father to act that way then it would be a different story. You have a difference of age and relationship to such a degree it truly becomes a difference of type.

Gata's feelings toward his father are no doubt very deep and not going to be very much effected because of how Rustam acted toward Nigel. If Nigel thinks exchanging some angry words with someones father will turn that son against thier own father he is not being realistic. People don't base thier opinions of important family members from such isolated acts.

Gata seems to have developed into his own man. I will not hold the fact that he does not attack his own father and publicly side with Nigel against him too much. Everyone has a right to stick up for thier own father for far worse than an inapporpriate shouting match that happened 12 years ago. If thats the worse thing my daughters have to weather through I think I will be in good shape.

On the other hand, the stress of the matches does not excuse this type of conduct. The stress of the matches if anything makes this type of conduct worse.

Before I look at the "other hand" again I am going to sleep.

Danailov is Topalov's father and mother at the same time since the age of 12, or so the saga goes. And Topalov, at the age of 31, is still under the influence of about the same type and degree as Gata was at the age of 20, or so it seems. Makes me wonder whether that makes Topalov more culpable than Gata

I find it interesting that, while some people side with Nigel Short, it seems that no-one:

1) Defends Nigel's decision to take it up in chat with no warning in front of 3000 people.

2) Puts weighty blame on Gata Kamsky for the way he responded in the chat (but rather discuss things from the past).

In my eyes, that's all that really matters. The rest is either in the past long gone by, or a private matter.

Personally, I would hesitate A LOT before giving anything resembling an excuse under such insulting circumstances, and especially not when close family is drawn into the mess.

Maybe , NFM , you have one yardstick for Gata because he is American and another yardstick for Topalov because he is Bulgarian.

In my mind, both Gata and Topalov did what was appropriate given the pressures of the match situation. Could it have been handled better ? Absolutely. But it is understandable what they and their delegations did under the circumstances.

I appreciate that Nigel Short spices up the chess world by (not just in this instance) saying exactly what's on his mind, yet I'm surprised that someone married to a shrink could carry around this issue with him for so long.

For all of us: what is the cause and effect between chess and a little bit of craziness?!

Ricardo - yes, Gata Kamsky definitely should have told Nigel Short that he regretted his father's behaviour during their match over a decade ago. Moreover Kamsky should not have exploited the use of this blog to further insult Short while inexplicably finishing off his post with the "I'm such an uber-mensch" physical challenge (he's better off leaving the wet work to Rustam).

But he really can't be blamed for standing up for himself on Playchess, because if you look at the recorded exchange, Nigel was REALLY up in Gata's face. But anyway, hey Gata, remember that you decimated your opponent in that match. So if you refuse to take responsibility for anything else, you can always find refuge in the sweet memory of your victory while keeping an open secret of your poor sportsmanship. Your post was just sad.

bah. Nigel and Gata should play a match, with the winner declared the official unified world champion.

Neither Short nor Kamsky are angels. Short has always been sardonic and bitter; Kamsky is hardly "the nicest guy." When he writes, he appears to see only his side of the story. Do you remember how he was accused (incorrectly of course!) of eliminating the argentinian teen master by conspiring with other GMs to draw all their games and beat up on the teen. As ridiculous those accusations were, simply compare Kamsky's response to that of Onischuk:you will see the difference between "kind and nice" Kamsky and a classy person such as Onischuk.

In jeremysilman.com Andrew Martin wrote:

"Of course Short was in the news recently for his comments about Tony Miles, about whom he was very candid. It was rather ill judged to remark on mental illness, rivalry and screwing the other guy’s girl in an obituary but, hey, that’s Nigel! I suppose if you must indulge in a bit of points scoring, it’s better to do this when your rival is dead. At least then he can’t come round and crush your spectacles into your scrawny little face. Seen in this light, the piece was particularly well timed."

The sad thing is Short enjoys this kind of stuff. Here's an excerpt I found on playchess.com.

In 1994, Kamsky's father was hauled off by police and barred from the hall for the rest of the match. Kamsky is also accused of acting poorly.

And Short had numerous methods, civil and uncivil, to deal with his grievances: call out Kamsky, sue Kamsky's father, try to organize a Kamsky boycott, write a blistering editorial, whatever.

But Short's failure to take care of business in 1994 does not give him the right to rub this ancient grudge in Kamsky's face whenever the mood suits him.

Civility surely required that Kamsky be allowed to watch and comment on Game 11 in peace. Short's repeated insults were a gross breach of civility, totally inappropriate to the time and place. Acting thus, Short cannot complain if Kamsky informs him that such uncivil talk is fitting only to be taken outside.

Gata you're a class act and short is nothing more than a bitter fool... you should play more on Playchess.com I really enjoy your play on that site... you always play the top rated guys over 3000, as opposed to Nigel that loses to anyone over 2800 and doesnt even bother to play the top guys.

I actually agree that carrying this around for 12 years is silly. And I see that a lot of people agree. But isn't that sort of inconsistent with the general consensus that Topalov, through his responsibility for Danailov's actions in filing a formal complaint with the Appeals Committee (note, he didn't threaten anyone in person), is condemned to the outer darkness forever, must be perpetually boycotted, shunned and vilified forever, I mean FOREVER, with no statute of limitations? That's what people have been saying, right?

Isn't one of the lessons of all this that regardless of people's vicarious involvement, 12 years from now, or maybe even 12 months, most people will have calmed down about it all?

By the way, those of you who are upset that Gata suggested that he and Short "take it outside", are you taking this as a serious proposal to duke it out? Were they in the same continent at the time? :-)

"Although Kamsky has been an amicable person since his return," we must not forget that he has logged into ICC with the account of Iborg and cursed out many different grandmasters both during games and in various kibitzes. As far as Kamsky having a law degree, this is true but he failed to pass the bar exam in New York.

I would like to point out that the Kamskys misbehaved with not only Short but many others (almost every GM complanined about them). This included Anand as well. Kamsky played two semi-finals with Anand (lost PCA and won FIDE). In the FIDE match Anand took an early lead and then the dirty games from the Kamskys started.

Mig and others who had mentioned that Kamsky is apologetic should re-read his post. Gata is justifying his and his father's behavior and has no regrets (he has a very good memory unlike what he stated in playchess). Till he apologizes for the misdeeds of his team (largely his father but it seems he supports what his father did) not just to Short but all other GMs (a generic all-inclusive apology is fine too), these issues will keep coming up.

It is not easy to forget losses in important matches due to dirty tricks even if they are 12 yrs old. Ones like Anand may forgive and not talk about it but many like Short will. I am indeed glad that Gata left the chess scene when he did and came back without his father. The recent post only shows that Gata agreed with what was done in his name in those days and is only a polished version of his father.


Mr. Gata Kamsky,

Thanks for writing in this blog, but... what you said was really an apology?? If one want to apologize, a little message is enough, but you seemed to be "counter-attacking" in the above message and you agreed with what your father did, only regretting "his quick temper".

Of course, Mr. Short has never been a saint, but that does not excuse what happened in the past and people who was following chess in those years remember the situation and antics (not only in that match) very well. I am glad you came back seemingly as a different and improved person, but I guess since the beginning, you could say a simply "I am sorry for what happened" in the chat and then, a private chat with Mr. Short.

PS: Now I definitely the circunstances in which Topalov's team has acted in this current match. But unlike that time, now through the internet we get the news at first hand, so with some biased press, public opinion has became extremely critical of professionals.

I don't think that Mr. Short had a Papa like Mr. Kamsky and he should thank God for this. If Mr. Short really thinks that Mr. Kamsky could
do something against his Father's violance at the age of twenty he is not very good at thinking.
I think Mr. Kamsky is the man who suffered the most under Rustam Kamsky's violence not Nigel Short or other Grandmasters. May be Mr. Short and other Grandmasters should apologize to Mr. Kamsky that they not helped him in his youth.

After reading the posts in this thread I begin to realize why majority of chessfans from USA and Western Europe are so negative about Topalov and support Kramnik. Obviously after living decades in "political correct" societies they forget that the life is a fight and understand decency as scrupulous obeying to rules and circumstances.
Gata Kamsky is Eastern European though living long time in USA and his point of view is perfectly understandable to every Eastern european but I suspect it will remain vague to "old europeans" and USA citizens forever :).

On that theme, it’s interesting that Kamsky implies that before the glass of water episode he was making no effort to suppress his cough to avoid distracting his opponent. That’s not quite the way it’s supposed to happen at cricket.

I don't think, by the way, Bobo, 'politically correct' means quite what you think it does. It refers to bending over backwards not to offend minorities (eg calling the disabled 'differently abled') and not to general good manners and common decency.

Actually, by the way, Short did have a rather over-visible father when he was very young, who was widely thought to be tiresome and domineering and to regard Nigel’s chess as a meal ticket. (quite possibly totally unjustifiably; I am merely reporting opinion at the time). I don’t know what happened to him. But I suspect Nigel knows a thing or two about parental influence on chess prodigies.


I never thought of "old Europeans" as politically correct. Only Americans are politically correct.


We cannot expect our chess players to be saints. As long as they play by the rules, it is acceptable. So, whether Topalov or Kamsky or Short exhibit or condone acceptable behaviour is not the point. Their job is to play the games under trying circumstances. As long as they play by the rules, it is acceptable. We cannot expect them to uphold a higher moral standard. Live and let live.

Being an East-European myself, I disagree with bobo. I sincerely hope that the trademark of our countries is not what Topalov Team is doing at this match.
You could say that we have traits of a desperate let's-fight-the-system attitude, but Topalov is definitely not fighting the system, and nor was Gata Kamsky or his father. They seem to have a personal motivation in their actions, so why make it into an east-west issue.

I don't really think Short suggesting to Kamsky that having a glass of water can be classed as psychological warfare and that comment seems utterly ridiculous.

It was utterly inexcusable for Kamsky's father to threaten to kill Short.

It was utterly stupid for Short to raise this issue in public when we're discussing Topalov V Kramnik. The exchange does no credit to either player.

If Rustam Kamsky was part of Kamsky's delegation in his candidates match, the appropriate protest should have been made at the time where Gata should have forfeited the match if this was true and his father was part of his team. If Short failed to lodge this protest, that was his mistake.

Still I admire both Short and Kamsky for not staying 'off the fence' with the usual platitudes.

Nigel Short is a has-been who is now forced to scour the globe for obscure tournaments with impressive sounding names in order for him to pretend he still has a real tournament career. "Hey, look at me, I'm the Commonwealth Champion!"

Dragging up 10 year old grievances is just another way for him to seek attention in public--something he has to do away from the chessboard these days.

Mig and others complaining of Short ambushing Kamsky in playchess should realize that the only reason this has happened is because Kamsky has never bothered to apologize for his and his father's past mistakes (towards Short and many others). He either brushes aside the topic or ends up justifying the past behavior.

It is also interesting to see the double standards of folks in this forum. By various accounts, Danailov is like father-figure to Topalov and yet most people have criticized Topalov (and rightly so). Why doesn't the same argument apply to Kamsky?


I suppose there are two legitimate reasons for what you call a 'double standard', Kapalik, first Kamsky was 20 then and Topalov is 31 now, second this was 12 years ago and Elista is right now.

I reckon if we’d had internet forums back in '94 RK’s behaviour would have taken a pretty severe caning from the online punters; in fact I doubt if he’d have had even the smattering of support Topalov does. But you gotta move on.

The most legitimate reason for the so-called "double standard":

Kamsky is American whereas Topalov is Bulgarian. This forum is dominated by American people. They have one set of rules for their people and another set of rules for others.

Kamsky was young, but a grown-up. The same thing applied to him then as to Topalov now. People are saying that he is very dependent on Danailov and so on. That's no excuse and it wasn't for Kamsky either. Short is dead right (for once) and I don't see why it was wrong to bring it up as it had very obvious similarities to the current match. Kamsky could simply have apologized right away. Instead he keeps downplaying it even in his post here and blames Short just like some are desperate to blame Kramnik for his outrageous bathroom visits and draw offers ...

Kapalik, please stop crediting me with things I never said. I never said Kamsky was apologetic. I never said Short ambushed anyone. If you can't quote responsibly, don't quote at all.

Ah, the old equivalency argument. Suddenly everyone here is an expert on Topalov's relationship with Danailov. Why, the two cases are exactly the same! Violent, domineering father of a 20-year-old and, umm, a friend and manager. Topalov has been a touring pro for over a decade, most of that at the highest level. Of course we all have our loyalties and preferences. That doesn't mean everything else is equal.

As usual, invalidation instead of analysis. Motives instead of facts. I'd love to see you guys on a debate team. "The sky is blue." "Oh yeah? You're just saying that because..." Lame.

Why didn't Short tell the organizers instead of illegally speaking to his opponent during a match?

You're crazy if you can read that and think Short was looking for an apology. As if that would have ended it. He was looking for a public fight about it and thought Gata would be an easy target. It's not as if he started out by apologizing for his own contribution, breaking the rules during a game.

greg, do you have a link to the original comments made by short by any chance? Thanks d

There wasn't much of a "fight". If anything, I thought Short was going easy on him. I would have a different view if he had started to hurl personal attacks ("idiot", "cheating crook"...) I don't see any. He just harshly criticized his behaviour at the time and his failure to confess he was wrong. And I still don't see what's wrong with that.

Doing it in a chat forum in front of a few thousand people what was wrong with that. It's the internet equivalent of standing on a chair with a megaphone in the middle of a packed auditorium.

Is anybody really surprised by Nigel's behavior? In his *obituary* for Tony Miles, he actually deemed it appropriate to brag about sleeping with Tony's girlfriend. What a miserable wretch.

Peter, do you have a link for this?

One of Nigel’s hobbies is outraging the little people, as he sees them. He seldom makes the mistake of outraging those who might be useful to him.

D, it was in the Sunday Telegraph, I think – if that helps. I’m sure Google can do the business for you.


What a weak post.

You were yourself an experienced chess player in 1994. You should have known that coughing so much was a worse breach of the rules than Short telling you drink some water.

If Short complained officially, more likely you would have to be disqualified. Then how many people would be threatened with violence.

Your 'take it outside' response is also despicable. Why say that? It makes you sound like a thug, which as a chess fan I have never had reason to think that of you before.

Educated American lawyers do not usually talk like that.

I will just add for now that I normally respect Kamsky infinitely more than Short. IMO Short happens to be right about this though. But it's unfair to Kamsky to push the point too hard.

Color of yogurt,parapsychology,coughing,toilets ... all this discussed very seriously by adults.
One possible explanation would be that chess is a sort of antisocial activity and casuses young males develop buffoon, narcissi like personality. Not to mention that mentally,outside chess, they usually represent level of 14 years old boys.

I see nothing in this exchange about something that happened between Nigel and RUSTAM Kamsky, faulting Gata. It looks like that Nigel is bitter that his chess career as a serious title contender ended back then, and that Gata is now a contender, and probably will be for some time.

Or it could be that I'm an American and supporting my 'Merican fellow chess players.


1. How terrible can you feel about a match that you won -- in fact won easily?

(My perspective: in chess one tries to crush the opponent like a bug -- as my friends and I used to say -- but once you win, you have to provide care and help for the wounded at least in my view.)

2. OK legally (legalistically?) one may not talk to opponent during the game. However you are taking this to ridiculous extremes, is everything black and white to you? Your opponent suggested that you take a drink of water, and I suppose he thought it would help your condition. Nobody has asserted that you had reason to interpret differently what sounds like a normal polite expression of concern.

Is there any room in your mind for human civilized behavior during a chessgame?

(Your opponent was actually entitled to have you not hacking so badly at the board that he was distracted, in my opinion. If this was his actual motivation, you had no reason to be offended by it.)

3. He said something to Anand. This may be a legitimate reason for protest; it could depend on the normal behavior of players at that event or in other similar events. Per-se, it sounds a lot less suspicious than stuff that doesn't raise an eyebrow in many (lower level) events I've seen.

Case dismissed?


I think most of the players thinks talking during the games is quite normal. If you're a 1400 player, that's true. Talking is totally forbidden at all top-level events. We're not talking the World Open here. Yeesh.

Bravo, Gata Kamsky!
For Shame, Nigel Short!

I hope you'll not see Nigel posting anytime soon on Playchess after he embarrassed himself.

Nigel is and always will be a wanker of sorts. If he is sucking down glasses of wine during the playchess broadcast, then someone has to be a friend to him and take the keyboard away, much like car keys.

"Friends don't let Friends Post Drunk"

Normally as one increases in maturity and skill, the rules become _less_ strict, as these more advanced participants have come to understand the spirit behind the rules. Rather than being restricted as children, they enter the world of fully functioning adults.

We hear the voice of the Creator more clearly.

To use the example of chess strategy: we teach beginners to develop knights before bishops. But Topalov is very advanced and knows that he doesn't really have to develop any pieces at all for 10 moves. ;-)

My understanding of the spirit of the rules, which is no better than anyone else's, is that cheating is the worst sin. Distracting the opponent intentionally is another really bad sin, maybe the only one I can think of at the moment. The rules go on for however many pages to give a framework for implementing the simple principles above.


Wait a second people. Why is anyone defending Kamsky here? Have you forgotten that Rustam Kamsky was the most abusive person EVER seen in the top level chess scene. He was a total scumbag. It\'s true that he even did hit people, not just threaten them.

When Kamsky retired many chess fans and most super GMs felt relieved. And not because a dangerous opponent had left the game.

The world needs more people like ND Short. Outspoken people, who are not afraid to voice their opinions. Short is articulate and witty. And you can\'t please everyone. Short could have Asperger\'s syndrome. Who knows? He speaks what he thinks, which is characteristic. Einstein probably had Asperger, like many other geniuses.

And the world needs less people like Rustam Kamsky. Abusive, violent characters.

It doesn\'t matter there were 3000 spectators. Kamsky should have apologised to the world of chess years ago. It\'s not like it was a secret. And it would be easier for people to forget, had he apologized. And in that way put it behind him. Even if it is on behalf of his father, for the things that were done in the name of HIS delegation. Does he still live with his father?

His reaction, and the subsequent letter in this thread only strenghten the image that the new friendlier Kamsky could be just a facet, an act. He doesn\'t seem to acknowledge anything wrong with his father\'s behavior. Which, as most of you have read, was totally disgraceful. And not just towards Nigel Short. What\'s worse he only seems to imitate it with the \"let\'s take it outside\" nonsense. Chess players are hopefully smart people. We talk things through.

Is he really IBorg on ICC? Talion and IBorg? Jekyll and Hyde?

If there is a trash talking anonymous GM rated 3500, who keeps disconnecting etc. you automatically assume it to be Nakamura.

wow, the passions of Elista are overflowing to unearth and unleash the passions of the past

Having read so much passion, I almost forgot that I wanted to comment on the reduced funds available for the candidate matches.

It might be that the match funds, FIDE salaries, and what not, are taken from the same pot. Nobody really knows how and how much money Kirsan is channelling into FIDE.

Anyway, money flowing in the dark is just asking for comments, particularly if inequities appear on the surface, and I am not the first one who makes this kind of comment.

"Bravo, Gata Kamsky"? Gata a class act?

I, for one, think that his responses in the Playchess chat and here on this board are among the lamest I've ever seen. Weak attempts to put the blame on Short and to excuse himself of all responsibility. His debate skills are close to nil. His response to Nigel's question about the death threat? "So talk to my father about it. LOL." Yeah, real classy.

Sorry for the rant but I really think that Short is in the right here (for once).

It was interesting to read the Short/Kamsky exchange, because I didn't know that Kamsky's father threatened short.

I have to agree that for a lawyer, Kamsky's debate skills are not exactly at a 2700 level.

He was trying NOT to have a public argument about 1994 and his father, not trying to win one. People seem to be confusing who was right or wrong in 1994 with what happened yesterday. I wouldn't care if Rustam had chopped one of Short's fingers off at the dining room table that day, it's not something to go after Gata for in front of thousands of people. And if Short wanted to draw parallels to the Elista match he could have done it without addressing everything directly to Gata, who clearly didn't want to discuss it. You can speak your mind without picking a fight.

Upcoming commercial: "Been a jerk in public lately? Offended someone? Just say you have Asperger and kiss all responsibility and self-control goodbye!" Don't insult those who actually have it. Jackass. (Oops, there it goes again!) Assperjure is more like it.

I almost didn't want to comment on this, but it seems some points must be made.

Cheating and intimidation cannot be excused in chess. Kicking someone under the table and distracting someone should not be allowed. Kamsky or his father is lucky he's not facing criminal charges about threats of murder.

Suggesting that Kamsky was not responsible for the antics of an over domineering father at the age of 20, is ridiculous.

Kamsky would have been fully aware of the psychologic effect on his opponent of his father's behaviour and would have benefited accordingly.

What's more off-putting: Short asking Kamsky to get a glass of water or Kamsky's father threatening to kill Short? It's a no brainer really.

The parallels between Topolov/Danailov and Kamsky Jnr/Snr are clear and this was the point that Short was making. Topolov is ultimately responsible for Danailov's behaviour in the same way that Kamsky was ultimately responsible for the behaviour of his father. If Topolov disagreed with Danailov's behaviour he could have offered an apology or even better, sacked him.

I'm an admirer of Kamsky's chess play, but I wouldn't want him representing me in court.

I hope Mig wont ever recieve a death threat from a violent sociopath. Its something you will remember for the rest of your life nevermind for 12 years.
The new friendlier Gata has had many years to apologize for the abusive behavior that for years, and literally in more than hundred instances was carried in the name of HIS delegation. Perhaps if he had been man enough to do that, Nigel would not have raised the question in front of 3000 fans. And if Gata had condemned the abusive behavior of Danailov in this match, when Nigel asked him to do so, Nigel might have left it there. Or if Gata had just said, you are right, I apologize, doubt Nigel would have kept pushing it. I would guess Nigel was irritated by Gatas refusal to admit that their actions were wrong.

For Gata to instead resort to threats of violence he only makes himself look a thug. Just like his father.

For Mig to defend Gatas behavior here, he has to be out of his mind.

I'm an admirer of Kamsky's chess play, but I wouldn't want him representing me in court.

my apologies for the double post.

The attackers of the Kamsky's make me ponder: Do any of you have kids? Do they compete? How would your son was talented enough at a young age to compete with professionals of any sport, and a veteran older player started doing the same crap that Nigel was trying to pull? Do you think Christiano Ronaldo's dad would threaten an opponent if they were playing dirty against his son??? I think he would.

Would you threaten another kids parents if their kid played dirty? I think so, it is a natural part of parenthood to protect your kids. Right or Wrong, Rustam was doing what he thought best for his child.

parsnips, the father from "Shine" was only doing what he thought was best for his son too...

Adolf Hitler was only doing what he thought was best for Germany... (okay, that was probably a bit extreme).

Mig, you are not responding to the meat of my arguments but taking offence at a minor discrepancy when I clubbed your position with that of others who weren't exactly saying the same thing.

"Oh it happened ......" has put the same arguments as me but far more eloquently and persuasively. Shouldn't leave a doubt about who was right yesterday or 12 yrs back (and again Short wasn't the only one).

I don't think the issue of "double standards" is that of nationality. I suppose it has more to do with the fact that Mig (and Susan and possibly others) know Gata personally and regularly interact and would prefer not be very frank and completely objective (given those constraints, this item shouldn't have featured in this blog).


Kapalik, you have demonstrated you have no idea what my position is and that you don't care. You just repeat my name and insert something random after it.

Nigel didn't ask Kamsky to do anything, let alone apologize. He wasn't looking for an apology and certainly wouldn't have cared had he received one. And I'm certainly not excusing anything Rustam Kamsky did in 1994, or ever, so you can pack that straw man away.

And if any of you think someone here is "right," here you're even more foolish than your posts make you appear.

As for the 1994 threat incident, IT HAPPENED. Was Kamsky supposed to have magically prevented it? It's one thing to say the player is responsible for his delegation, it's another to have a time machine. Saying Rustam shouldn't have been there at all is an entirely different argument. Acting as though there was anything Kamsky could have done then, or do now, to make that situation disappear is inane.

I'm not sure I follow your argument, Mig.

If I mugged someone 10 years ago, became a reformed character and bumped into my victim again, then according to this logic I shouldn't apologise because the past is the past and I can't go back in a time machine to change it.

An extreme example, I know :-), but there is no statute of limitation on bad behaviour. I'm not aware of Kamsky at any point having apologised for his behaviour in earlier years.

Given the importance of the match in 1994, I can quite understand Short's outburst (and would agree with your comments that this was probably not the best forum to air them).

A simple apology from Gata would have healed all wounds, I'm sure.

On another note, a great blog site. Keep up the good work. Certainly the best chess forum and debate on the internet.

parsnips I have kids. I hope that neither my kids nor anyone else in my family would behave the way Kamsky's crew did. And I certainly hope my kids will never express themselves the way Kamsky did yesterday.

This has nothing to do with Topalov or Kramnik. Neither of them has made death threats or done anything remotely close. Both have been more obnoxious than suggesting a glass of water to a coughing opponent. The allegations of cheating in the current match are far more substantial than those made by Kamsky.

The facts matter.

If Kamsky or Short thinks there is a parallel between the two situations, I cannot imagine why they think so.

Mig, I don't think you are reading mine or others' posts. While Short may not have been looking for an apology but the unpleasant exchange yesterday wouldn't have gone so long if Kamsky had apologized in playchess (wouldn't have started if he done before). That's the argument many have made.

And what is the issue with raising in playchess? Aren't malicious press releases and interviews meant for an even larger audience?

The other issue is that of the Gata 2.0 being an exact opposite from 12 yrs back. That doesn't seem true going by his post in this thread or his responses to Short in playchess. Others have referred to the IBorg account in ICC. I can agree he is more polished now but that's about it.


Kamsky needs to cool down a bit.

Sorry, but a lot of people get this wrong. Nigel acted like a bully on playchess, plain and simple. No question about that whatsoever.

The way to deal with bullies is to punch them in the face. Immediately and with no warning. It may not be politically correct or according to "Parenting 101", but it's the only effective way. If you follow this advice and pass it on to your children, you and they will be subject to much less abuse in life, and I for one would never interpret this as some flaw of character. Rather, as a sound relationship to reality. They ask for it, they get it, matter settled.

Another thing is that it is inappropriate (bordering on sociopathic) to impose the resolving of personal grievances on a public setting. Street gangs do not hesitate to shoot down each other in full public. More sane people understand that they should simply ignore each other if they have a personal conflict and can expect to meet in a public setting. That stuff should be settled in private, possibly with a public statement to follow. That guideline is a simple unwritten rule in the game of life, and as we have seen in the Kramnik-Topalov match, if the rules are broken, you take care to address that before playing on. Kamsky's replies was a natural reaction to Nigel's breach of the elementary rules of social life.

I feel sorry for Nigel, because he probably deserves an apology, but he did not go the right way to get it.

PS. I don't know what Asperger is, the above is just my general take on all this.

kapalik, what is the story with the Iborg account on ICC?

It's plain obvious to me that Kamsky and his father are the bad boys in this game. In the past they used any trick to get rid of their opponents. This is not something you will forget easily, even as time has gone by.


"If I mugged someone 10 years ago, became a reformed character and bumped into my victim again, then according to this logic I shouldn't apologise because the past is the past and I can't go back in a time machine to change it."

This is the problem with your statement: Gata wasnt the 'criminal', he wasnt the one making the threat. Someone else did. Why should Gata apologize for something he didnt do? It is as exactly as Gata put it: "Talk to my father then"...

If Short feels the need (one he didnt express) to be apologized to, he is talking to the wrong person.

Now a death threat is a private matter? Well then, why go to the police about it? It may go to court where complete strangers may get to hear that Rustam Kamsky threatened Nigel Short (and practically every other chess figure)! The horror! Where does Short come off daring to make that public!?

Mig, based on what so many have said about the suspect character of Nigel Short, you're probably right to say that Gata's apology will not put an end to this. And that doesn't matter. Gata owes that apology regardless.


Rustam was with Gata during that match. Gata was in a position to apologize for him in that instance. Of course, Gata was probably afraid of getting beat down himself, so he smartly didn't provoke the old man there.

Are you suggesting that a wife should not apologize for her drunk husband's behavior? A parent should not apologize for an unruly child? There is precedent for people to apologize for unreasonable or outrageous behavior by a family member.

BS. Gata doesn't owe anyone an apology for what his father said or did. When I was young my father said and did all kinds of things I wasn't aware of...I was too busy either playing or preparing to play. I had no idea most of the time. As an analogy imagine a student who's parents say all kinds of garbage during a parent teacher conference...is the kid supposed to apologize for that? Give me a break.

Nigel is just being a whiner because he was crushed in their match. Coughing or no coughing, death threats or not, Nigel was crushed, period. And he would have been crushed without any of that. Gata was the better player then. Nigel just can't accept that. He still hasn't. And just as Gata said, that is his problem. It is his problem. Period.

And furthermore, most of you chumps act like Gata is some park player, whom you can just slam without knowing anything about top level world class play. When he says it was psychologically disturbing, take him at his word. He's playing the games in those environments, not you. It isn't like playing some chump at the club or in the park or in some swiss tournament, some guy ranked 131st. Give me a break. You guys talk to him like he's some schlub club player. Have some respect. He put a lot of work into it and still does. More than most of you put into your daily jobs to feed your family. Some of you need to be beaten with a stick repeatedly. And that's the facts as I see them. :)

Like anyone else here (except Kamsky of course), I have no idea to whom Kamsky has or has not apologised. He certainly has never done me any harm. To this effect I see no reason for ANYONE here to demand that Kamsky apologise for the behaviour of his father more than a decade ago.

rperez: for sure Gata would destroy me if we played a match. Do you think that means I should not express my opinion on his behavior?
Oddly, the thought never even occurred to me. If he didn't want to be critiqued, he didn't need to say anything publicly.

What sort of things did your father say and do affecting your upcoming chess games? Surely you must be aware of some of it now.

Okay, we're starting to make Short, Danailov, the Kamsky's look like paragons of virtue. Let's keep it to a low roar if you don't mind.

David Quinn,

I think behavior is always dependent on the circumstances. And of course you can critique anyone's behavior in a professional sport (if chess can be called professional at times). But people, not necessarily you in particular, but people should realize it's different when you're there, in that environment. It's easy to talk trash from outside, not so easy to deal with it from the inside. They are at a level I am sure none of us relates to--playing for a world championship or candidates match. We don't know. We merely speculate and blabble about it. Many people here criticize Gata for mentioning psychological issues, but how do they know? I play patzers all the time and there are psychological issues in every game, so who's to say it isn't magnified by 1000% in a match like that?

And saying if he didn't want to be critique'd he shouldn't have said anything...I mean, the guy was personally attacked, by name, in a forum open to thousands and thousands of people. What is he supposed to do? Pretend like he didn't hear it? Log off? I mean, really.

Regarding my own father, or my coach, in any circumstance, well, that isn't going to be posted here for any reason whatsoever. :)

As Kamsky himself ironically enough mentions in his post: "what you reap is what you saw".
That's what happened in that chat.

So maybe life's not fair. I'm all tears. Really.

The Kamsky's aggravated pretty much everybody in the chess world in those days.
So maybe it was not all Kamsky's fault but just his fathers?
Then now as an "adult" would be a good time to distance himself from all that, but what do we get? "Let's take it outside and fight..."
What I take away from that: the wolf has been lured out of his sheeps clothes.

And all that against the backdrop of team Topalov using the same off board shenanigans as team Kamsky back in those days. Life's not fair indeed.

As far as I'm concerned, the issue is simple. It boils down to:

* If wrongs (e.g., death threats) are done in your name, by members of your delegation, you owe an apology and disavowal of those wrongs, even if you were young & innocent at the time (20 isn't exactly a child).
* However, choosing to ask for an apology in front of thousands of people is likely counter-productive.

We'll never know what would have happened if Kamsky had offered an apology. My guess is, Short would have been placated (possibly modulo a final acerbic comment or two).

Well, one can't blame Kasmky for wanting to go outside. Who hasn't wanted to punch Nigel in the face at one time or another? :)

Yes, the truth hurts. ;)

As I understand it, Kamsky's father's comment was "if you break the rules again, I will kill you."

Legally that is not an actual threat, it is a conditional threat (if you do the stated condition, then I will kill you).

Ah, blogs.

As has been mentioned Mr. Nigel wrote a column about his encounter with Mr. Kamsky, so Mr. Nigel took it to public before. Doing it live in the presence of Mr. Kamsky is a little different. At least it gives Mr. Kamsky a chance to respond. But if Mr. Kamsky would normally ignore a newspaper column, then doing it live puts pressure on Mr. Kamsky to respond.

this seems like it's become a very unproductive discussion. Like the current mess, this argument/feud does not have any clear protagonist or evildoer. I don't see the point in turning one or the other into a villain. Both may have acted inappropriately, but:

-If GM Kamsky was to apologize for all of the grievances levied against his father, he would be at it for quite a while.

-No, Short should probably not have launched into it, but it is something that got started and took off. Nor, as others have pointed out, is this atypical of Short. I do not follow him, but I saw the Miles piece and I've heard him publicly complain on the radio about Kasparov's behavior during their match.

-Saying that, I can see why he simply told Gata to drink the water. That doesn't sound so bad.

But the real question is why are we, who are probably mostly amateurs, levelling such torrid abuse at high-level GMs? Do we pay attention to their games and articles because we think they are great human beings? In tournament games in the U1600 category, I know that I feel immense pressure, it's hard to imagine what that's like for candidates matches.


Are you implying that a 'conditional threat' is OK?

A quick web search reveals examples such as:

The Conditional Threat
"[T]he mere fact that the harm is made upon a condition….does not prevent it from being anything less than a real threat under KRS 508.080(1)(a).18" Thus, theoretically, it is not a defense that the client threatened to slit someone’s throat only if that someone talked to the client’s girlfriend again. However, the very case which held that a conditional threat is still a threat also stated: "A statement of an intention to inflict harm on another, conditioned upon a future happening would tend to generate fear in direct proportion to the likelihood that the condition would be fulfilled.19" Thus, the more unlikely that the condition will be fulfilled, the closer the threat comes to being "idle talk."

I am secretly pleased with the action on the board, off the board between the two teams, and by unaffiliated but aroused gladiators slugging it out on the sidelines.

Best. World. Championship. Match. Ever.

Compare to the drowsy-lousy Drawko-Kramnik snooze.

Btw, I haven't been able to locate the infamous Miles obituary by Nigel Short. (The one dead link I did pull up suggests that the Telegraph no longer has it archived.) Would appreciate it if someone knows of a working link.

In my last match I also talked to my opponent. This was shortly after the time control and I came out of a difficult position that I thought is probably a draw now. I said to him that I finally have the time to smoke (I couldn't do this the last hour because the position was too complicated).
I think there was nothing wrong with that. You should of course not talk to your opponent when he is thinking about a move or when you are in a better position.

I have a few comments:
• Even if Gata were 20 at the time, anyone who doesn’t think he could still be under the heavy or total influence of his father doesn’t understand psychology at all. Try being the kid of a batterer (even if only verbally)…you never really get over it. Normally a player is responsible for his team, but after all those years of being under his thumb, he clearly still had not broken free of his tyrannical father at that time. He is also not responsible for apologizing for his father since he had no control, even though he did in this blog.
• I don’t feel that many lower-rated players realize how strict the protocols of etiquette and rules are at that level. It is just not the same as the more relaxed rules at your local tournament and you must go through the arbiter.
• I think that Kamsky’s coughing certainly could have disturbed Short, but I am not sure what you can do if you have a cough since it is an involuntary spasm. I have taken “cough suppressants” enough times to know they really have limited abilities and water actually might make it worse since it removes the mucus in the throat. Water only helps if you have a frog in your throat.
• Short clearly should have gone through the arbiter, but he is human too, and I still don’t think this slip should be automatically considered a psychological ploy. I think Gata probably overreacted here and let it bother him too much. Gata said he went down without a fight, but can’t that be due as much to not feeling well?
• I have always thought Short was a bit of a prick based on his behavior on ICC and his numerous writings. He has an aggrandized sense of his importance to the world. I think this is reflected in his need to constantly use big words in his articles that scream “I am so smart”, and how every organizer he has seemingly ever written about doesn’t kiss his ass and wait on him personally. He is always bitching about what the organizers didn’t do for him, and he clearly craves attention. Didn’t your mommy hold you enough?
• To be a fair as I can, I still think that Gata should not have called Short out on PlayChess, but I also felt it was more sarcastic in nature rather than a real challenge, especially considering the Atlantic separates them. Kamsky does have a long history on ICC of being a very gracious and nice person, and post Daddy-Dearest, this is the first remotely negative thing I have seen Kamsky do and he was continuously provoked after trying to drop it repeatedly.
• Gata did try to drop it, so why can’t you Short? Life isn’t fair, get over it.


I guess the answer depends on your estimation of Nigel Short's respect for the rules - or Rustam's interpretation of a violation. :)

"Try being the kid of a batterer"

I do not think Rustam Kamsky did bad... he battered *other* people to protect his son's perceived interests. And based on results Kamsky is quite successful... a less demanding father and Gata might be milking cows somewhere in central Asia.

@ KCotreau

If you play against an opponent who is ill, it seems to me quite normal to ask him how he is doing or even give him an advice. To be accused after doing this is kinda strange.

Freitag, you just proved KCoutreau's point, that it's best to know the rules (and understand a little of the reasoning behind them) before you express opinions about them.

Or maybe you mistakenly thought that Short good-naturedly asked Kamsky how he was feeling or offered him advice (drink some water) either BEFORE their game began or AFTER it ended. That's the only way your comment might be taken as coming from a person with any sense.

However, according to all the discussion here, that simply isn't what happened. Rather, Short bothered Kamsky with his complaint (about coughing) and the related bit of "advice", WHILE THEIR GAME WAS IN PROGRESS.

I'm not a TD but I have no trouble believing what several here (including Kamsky) have said: that such behavior, indeed any talking to one's opponent at all during a game, is a serious violation of the written rules that apply to high-level matches, and perhaps of the generic laws of chess itself.

Even in amateur events, this is covered by the catch-all rule that it's illegal to do anything that disturbs one's opponent. While Short might have had occasion to complain about Kamsky's coughing on those same grounds, it's not clear what response such a complaint might have received from the arbiter. Anyway if Short felt HIS concentration was disturbed, the only appropriate, legal, or civil way for him to address that was to complain to the arbiter.

As Kamsky stated above, Short would surely have known all of this...and would very likely have understood too that his confronting Kamsky about the coughing directly, mid-game, would disturb Kamsky far more than complaining via the arbiter. So, I fail to see any flaw or even hyperbole in Kamsky's referring to Short's behavior as a "psychological ploy."

Those of you who have voiced the opinion that Short was merely expressing concern for Kamsky's well-being, and besides, you did the same for your opponent in an Under-1600 section you were playing in last week, please kindly clarify whether you are:

1) Simply unwilling and unable to look at the 1994 situation in the terms it's meant to be looked at (as a high-stakes, serious contest with rules meant to be taken seriously); or

2) Of sub-normal intelligence, so that the "finer" points of the above discussion are simply beyond you; or

3) Just trolling because you get your kicks by getting a rise out of people -- akin to various pro-Topalov posters here.

@ J. Jacobs

Calm down and get a life. Not every chess player (over 2000 or 2200) is sitting the whole time at the desk and is pressing his balls. Have you ever searched for a coffee (au lait)?

Short gives the appearance of being a bitter sore loser. He has lost his skill and is watching his rating fall- so he whines that the rating system is to blame. He is no longer the best player in Britain so he whines about Adams. A former rival dies so in his capacity as a columnist he takes the opportunity to brag about nailing the man's girlfriend. A former rival in one of his most important matches who happened to whip him in that match comes out of retirement and plays his way back to his former strength. So what does Short do? In a public forum where Kamsky is commenting on a match with a large group of fans waiting for his analysis Short jumps in and...well we know what he did. Short is what he is and what he did is no surprise. Bitterness is a bitter pill and is hard to choke down.

I missed Kamsky in his earlier career and am extremely happy that he came back and wish him well. Short on the other hand might be better served by going away. Perhaps he could come back in 10 years or so with a new perspective and some much needed humility and maturity.

It was widely reported at the time that Rustam Kamsky physically beat his son.

Here's what Nigel Short wrote to Prof David J Robertson (on October 11?):

"Glad you enjoyed the verbal jousting. Gata seemed to be a short on specific answers apart from accusing me of "psychological tricks" and challenging me to coats off outside. The only "psychological trick" that he named was that I spoke to him during one game. Quite right: during my thinking time, I suggested to him that he might like to drink some water as he was coughing incessantly. He stopped coughing and the game continued without further interruptions.

Immediately afterwards the Russian-speaking arbiter overheard him saying to his mouth-foaming Daddy that there was nothing to complain about. And yet within the hour there was (yet another) written protest accusing me of cheating - one of about half a dozen that the organisers had to deal with. By itself, the very public death threat by his father should have been sufficient to merit Gata's disqualification, never mind all his other dirty accusations. Had I been playing under FIDE, or in a private match I would have refused to continue.

Unfortunately I was in the invidious position of also being a Director of the PCA. Asking for my opponent's disqualification from the rest of my Board (I am not sure that death threats from delegation members is covered in the rules) would have looked very bad from a PR perspective, even though it was entirely justified"

Source: http://www.atticuschess.org.uk/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=115&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=16

Congratulations, Freitag, for owning up to at least being #3 on the list mentioned at the end of my preceding comment: your last comment confirms your complete absence of interest in reasoned discussion of any points you raised -- your sole reason for commenting here is to insult people in hopes of getting a rise out of them while you (to use your phrase) sit at your keyboard pressing your balls.

Note however that the 3 categories I mentioned aren't mutually exclusive. So, your 'fessing up to being in #3 doesn't necessarily exclude you from also belonging to one or both of the other categories.

Still you do at least get a bit of credit for admitting you at least belong to #3.

Jon Jacobs and Freitag,

The discussion of whether Kamsky or Short are idiots is on topic.

But getting into a serious discussion with an idiot in here as to whether he's an idiot is not only off topic it's, well, idiotic.

And I'm serious!

HERE NIGEL next time you play GATA and you have black play this opening and crush him lol.

[Date "2006.10.24"]
[Round "-"]
[White "-"]
[Black "-"]
[Result "*"]

1. e4 Nc6 2. d4 Nb4 3. c4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Na6 5. f4 Nb8 6. Nf3 Ng8 7. Bd3 a6 8.
O-O b6 9. f5 c6 10. e5 g6 11. d5 Bb7 12. e6 dxe6 13. fxe6 fxe6 14. dxe6 c5
15. Be3 Bg7 16. Ng5 Nh6 17. Nf7 Nxf7 18. Rxf7 Bxc3 19. Bh6 Bf6 20. Qe2 Qc7
21. Kh1 Nc6 22. Rd1 Rd8 23. Bc2 Qe5 24. Rxd8+ Kxd8 25. Qd2+ Nd4 26. Bf4
Qxe6 27. Rxf6 Qxf6 28. h3 Ke8 29. Bg5 Qf1+ 30. Kh2 Qxc4 31. Bd3 Qd5 32. b3
Ne6 33. Be3 Rf8 34. Qe2 Qxg2+ 35. Qxg2 Bxg2 36. Kxg2 a5 37. Bc4 Nd4 38. Bh6
Rf6 39. Kg3 Kd7 40. Bf4 b5 41. Bd3 b4 42. Kg4 Rb6 43. Kg5 Ne6+ 44. Kh6

THEN white resigns after making his 44th move.

I know you like the strange and very absurd openings so here ya go! HAVE fun nigel short.

I was following their chat and must say it was no fun to me. I like both players though.

I think that Kamsky (and Short) both realize that their misbehaviour under the PCA, would never fly with the current FIDE, and so the point of 'history repeating itself' with toiletgate is not really valid, and besides the issue of whether players should be allowed to go to the bathroom anyway.

I think the mistepping of the current FIDE is in allowing the championship to be fought in the native country of one of the contestants, since
under such circumstances, as a sports writer once remarked, even betting against the Jack of Clubs jumping out of a deck and squirting apple cider in your ear, is a sucker's bet.

I realize that I'm posting long after the fact, but I've been away from news of the chess world for a few years:

So many of these posts show a complete lack of perspective; before you criticize one or the other, you have to look at the perspective of each player. Why did each think the other was cheating/being dishonest/etc? It is clear that both Short and Kamsky, from their own perspectives, in 1994, believed that they were in-the-right.

What Gata Kamsky has against him in the eyes of many players and those who are spectators is that his father's behaviour was so offensive and threatening to so many people. This is not sufficient for anyone to immediately accuse HIM (Gata) of dirty tricks or improper behaviour in 1994.

What Short has against him is the perception that many people have of him being rather caustic and deprecating when it suits his ego. This in itself is not enough to accuse HIM of improper behaviour in 1994.

Those are the two main issues regarding the 1994 incident. The so-called details are simply the two perspectives from the two parties involved. Those are in the past, what's done is done, it can't be changed by any of us. Move on.

The incident on the Playchess server in 2006, as has been said here by level headed posters, was inappropriate; Short should not have behaved in such a manner, but it seems to be in keeping with the 'flavour' of some of his past commentaries and articles.
As for Kamsky's response, it's not surprising, it's only natural to want to react to someone attacking you verbally. Also, it is only natural and not unexpected for him to have a bit of the temper that was so unloved by others in his father. Taking those things into account, the fact that things did not become truly incendiary says quite a bit about Kamsky's reaction and the sort of person he is now, even though it was inappropriate by way of not being the ideal empty platitudes and high minded worldly wisdom that hindsight always tells critics is the correct and wise way to respond to such a thing.

There's wrong and right on both sides, and quite a bit of it, on both sides was probably unintentional. As for what may have been intentional, that is for Kamsky and Short to discuss between themselves, in private.

Any other commentary is meaningless.

Who cares who you the commentator think is right and wrong?

We've all missed your commentary about these last sixteen years of chess history and are very much looking forward to being brought up to date. Even if it is all meaningless and no one cares.

Now Greg, that's what's called a long think.

You're right. Sorry.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 10, 2006 3:10 PM.

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