Drunken Tkachiev falls asleep behind the board, makes the headlines

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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TkachievBesides a well-performing Nigel Short, the Kolkata Open currently has another story that is actually making the headlines all over the world at the moment: "Drunken Grandmaster caught napping", "Chess star dozes off, concedes game." French top GM Vladislav Tkachiev apparently "showed up drunk at the venue, slept through his moves several times over and eventually had to be carried off", according to one of the reports. Vladislav Tkachiev | Photo: Frank Hoppe

The organizers decided not to include the story in the round reports on the tournament website, but international media have jumped on it: during the third round of the Kolkata Open, world's number 58 and former European Champion Vladislav Tkachiev (2669), who recently won the French Championships ahead of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, came to the venue drunk, fell asleep several times during the game and eventually lost by exceeding the time limit. His opponent Praveen Kumar (2354) was declared winner.

Eventually Tkachiev had to be carried off, according to Express India, who seem to be the first source of the story that's currently being picked up by international media:

The match lasted over an hour, with the French player repeatedly dozing off while contemplating a move. Each time he fell asleep, players around would try to wake him up with a shake of the shoulder. Some even offered him water, and Tkachiev, having briefly refreshed himself at the change room while his opponent waited, dozed off again and eventually had to be carried off.


According to the Hindustan Times, Tkachiev was

so badly under the influence of alcohol that he could hardly sit on his chair and after 11 moves, fell asleep resting his head on the table. Attempts to wake him up proved futile and the game was awarded to the Indian on the technical ground of Tkachiev being unable to complete his moves within the stipulated time of an hour and 30 minutes.


We haven't been able to find the exact rate of play (the always reliable Mark Crowther mentions "2 hours for the entire game") but it seems that the arbiters waited until the French GM's flag fell before declaring the game as lost (which is what The Hindu is writing as well).

In any case, according to the Hindustan Times, Tkachiev was warned and reprimanded by the organisers afterwards but allowed to take part in the remainder of the competition. This refutes the statement by some media that Tkachiev was disqualified - a conclusion that they might have drawn for themselves as being a logical punishment in sports!? What do you think? Is it a wise decision, or should the organizers have expelled Tkachiev from the tournament to set a precedent?

Update 12:55: in a phone call to the organizers we learnt that the rate of play at the Kolkata Open is 90 minutes for the whole game, plus 30 seconds increment from the start. Tkachiev's flag fell indeed while he was sleeping. "He did play a few moves. We decided to give him a warning because he convinced us that it wouldn't happen again," Kenneth Sinha said.

Update 14:45: as Stefan Löffler points out, Tkachiev did more or less the same in the last round of the Dresden Olympiad, where he didn't even show up for his game. The French team lost a full board point before they had even started, and with it the last chances for a medal. In a video message the French GM apologized, and said it wouldn't happen again...

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