Short-Cheparinov Controversy @ Corus!!


Bulgarian Grandmaster Ivan Cheparinov was initially forfeited for not shaking hands with England’s Nigel Short.


Short came to the board, and with his opponent absent, he played the move 1.e4, and walked away. A few minutes later, Cheparinov came to the board, sat down, and played 1…c5. As Short came over, and held out his hand for the traditional pre-game handshake, Cheparinov pointedly kept his head down over the board and his scoresheet. After a few moments, Short sat down, and waited for Cheparinov to raise his head. When he did so, Short again extended his hand, only for Cheparinov to shrug in refusal.

Short then stood up and approached the arbiter, pointing out that his opponent’s actions are a breach of FIDE rules, which prescribe an immediate forfeit as the penalty for refusing the handshake. The arbiter was not even aware of this rule, which was announced only recently. He was asked to check, and after going away to do so, he duly found it on the FIDE website. After consulting with Cheparinov, and explaining the situation, the arbiter told Short that Cheparinov was now prepared to shake hands after all. However, given that he had already twice refused to do so, and that Short’s equanimity had by now been totally destroyed, the latter insisted that the offence had already occurred, and that Cheparinov should be forfeited. “It was clearly a calculated insult”, said Short. The arbiter was forced to agree, and the official tournament record now shows the game Short-Cheparinov as having gone 1.e4 c5 1-0.


Cheparinov refuses to shake hands with Short.
Video by

Short’s reaction to forfeit.
Video by


Short states that it was a Presidential Board Decision. In the appeal letter Cheparinov stated his reasons for not shaking hands stemmed from comments Short made critical to Veselin Topalov and his team of which Cheparinov is a part. He made comments implying that Topalov may have cheated in the 2005 World Championship in San Luis, Mexico and was also critical of Topalov during the 2006 Championship match with Kramnik.

The cheating comments have been somewhat refuted. Nevertheless, Cheparinov stated that he was sanctioned by the arbiter when handshake is only recommended and not mandated. He stated that in June 2007 a recommendation was put on the table and it is due to a vote at the General Assembly in Dresden, Germany during the 2008 Chess Olympiad. Here is the Presidential Board statement:

Behavioural norms of players in chess events

Having discussed several recent cases in different chess tournaments where the attitude of players toward their opponent or officials, journalists etc. was not acceptable under conventional social behaviour, the FIDE Presidential Board –at the suggestion of President Ilyumzhinov- decided on setting up strict rules regarding such behaviour.

Any player who does not shake hands with the opponent (or greets the opponent in a normal social manner in accordance with the conventional rules of their society) before the game starts in a FIDE tournament or during a FIDE match (and does not do it after being asked to do so by the arbiter) or deliberately insults his/her opponent or the officials of the event, will immediately and finally lose the relevant game.

Regarding a more comprehensive set of behavioural and ethical norms to be followed, FIDE Ethics Commission and the Arbiter’s Council are to elaborate guidelines for the players. The guidelines will be published on the FIDE website.


The only rules associated with this case can be loosely interpreted in the FIDE Code of Ethics. Under “Breach of Etiquette” {FIDE Code of Ethics 2.2.4}, it states:

Failure to comply with normally accepted standards of courtesy and chess etiquette. Misbehavior of a personal nature which is generally unacceptable by normal social standards.


It turns out that the ruling was wrong and Short cited incorrectly. After Cheparinov was made aware of the rules, he was not allowed a chance to rectify the error. Witnesses say that he did agree to comply, but was duly for forfeited. In an appeal filed by Silvio Danilov (Cheparinov’s manager), the Appeals Committee (GMs Vladimir Kramnik, Judit Polgar, Michal Krasenkow) ruled that while Cheparinov’s behavior was a breach of protocol, he should have been allowed a chance to comply before forfeiting. Therefore the ruling goes as follows:

1. We declare that GM Cheparinov must make a public excuse to GM Short in a written form before 11.00 hours January 21st 2008 for his refusal to shake hands.

2. Then the game between Ivan Cheparinov and Nigel Short has to be replayed on Monday January 21st 2008 at 13.30 hours.

3. Both players must shake hands at the start of the game.

4. Any player failing to comply with the present decision forfeits the game.


Reports state that Nigel Short may refuse to play the make-up game. It is not clear what grounds he would have for this action.


  1. Apology by Ivan Cheparinov

    To the Organizing Committee Corus chess tournament
    CC : Appeal Committee

    Dear All,

    I accept the decision of the Appeal Committee and on the name of chess ,the chess fans and showing respect to the opinion of my colleagues would like to state the following:

    I apologize officially to Mr. Short, to the Organizing Committee and the sponsors of Corus chess tournament.

    I am ready to play the game today at 13’30 and will shake hands with Mr.Short according to the decision of the Appeal Committee.

    Best regards,

    Ivan Cheparinov

    Short-Cheparinov Handshake

  2. There are certain players I would not shake hands with even if it meant the forfeiting of the game.Some players deliberately show up late for the game, yet they are not punish. Others, when in a time crunch or losing position will request a digital clock, while owning neither ( Iam referring to adults only ). Some will stare incessantly on your move.This FIDE rule was a political move to insulate the Israeli players from international scrutiny. In my opinion Short desires the unearned point more than the handshake.

  3. Nigel Short made another crass comment after beating Ivan Cheparinov.
    Here is a comment taken from a ChessBase report:

    Steve Giddins wrote: “Of course, as his friends had pointed out to him beforehand, Short had scored a huge moral victory the moment he turned up to play, regardless of the result, but winning the game in such fine style completed the triumph. An elated Short walked out of the playing area, to be greeted by a bevy of photographers and journalists, all waiting for a reaction. They were not disappointed. He looked at them, grinned, and then said ‘There is a God. And he is not Bulgarian!‘ It brought the house down.”

    What a classless comment to make after he had just won a “moral victory”! Well… the Bulgarian may have had the last word in Topalov’s win over Kramnik. In fact, the preparation came from Ivan Cheparinov three years ago. Absolutely stunning!!

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