Latest news

General Mar 21, 2022 | 12:57 PMby Leon Watson

Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin banned from chess for 6 months over Ukraine stance

Controversial former world title challenger Sergey Karjakin, who sparked widespread criticism for his support of Russia's war in Ukraine, has been banned from all chess competitions by FIDE, it was announced today.

The Crimea-born Grandmaster, who switched from representing Ukraine to Russia in 2009, now faces being stripped of his place in the upcoming Candidates Tournament in June. The 6-month ban is due to run until Wednesday, September 21.

Karjakin issued a statement in response on Telegram saying the decision was "shameful" and that he has no regrets over his actions. Karjakin was also quoted by Russia's TASS news agency saying he won't appeal FIDE's ruling.

Sergey Karjakin was the 2016 World Championship challenger but will lose his place in the 2022 Candidates unless he wins an appeal | photo: Baku World Cup 2015  

In an apparent barb at FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Karjakin told TASS: “I don’t see the point of filing an appeal — any court will take the side of Europe. And FIDE is an international sports organization that does the same as everyone else. And by some coincidence, a Russian is still leading it. I think that this is not for long."

He added:

 I understood that there was such a danger [of disqualification], but I believe that I am first and foremost a citizen and patriot of my country, and I say this without any boasting. If such a situation arose again, I would not keep my mouth shut, but again I would write such a letter. I do not regret a bit what I did. Choosing between supporting my country and participating in the Candidates Tournament, I would always choose the first one."

However, the President of the Russian Chess Federation, Andrey Filatov, followed up on Karjakin's comments by saying the RCF is "against discrimination of athletes" and will appeal on the player's behalf. 

Chess Federation of Russia will examine the FIDE EDC's decision regarding Sergey Karjakin and Sergei Shipov. We will file an appeal in the near future and lodge a complaint against the decision to ban Serget [sic] Karjakin from participating in the FIDE events for six months. Chess Federation of Russia is against discrimination of athletes on any criteria and will fight for their rights.

Filatov also addressed the role of the FIDE President, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, adding: "We address a request to FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich to take the matter under personal control."

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich during an interview on chess24 shortly after making the decision to stop the Candidates Tournament in March 2021

FIDE's decision follows a series of pro-Russia public statements made by Karjakin which have enraged chess fans worldwide and heaped pressure on the world governing body to act.

The 32-year-old, who challenged Magnus Carlsen for the World Chess Championship in 2016, is now the first player to face individual disciplinary action over Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

Earlier today, Karjakin urged his former countrymen to surrender, saying "if you go along with the Kiev regime... don't say that you weren't warned".

Karjakin had already been shunned by several top events. Organisers from both Norway Chess and the London Chess Classic told chess24 that the Russian is no longer welcome at their tournaments.

The current world No.18 has also been banned by the Grand Chess Tour and from tournaments over his stance on Ukraine.

Now, after a unanimous decision, Karjakin has been found guilty of breaching the Code of Ethics of the game's highest authority, FIDE.

However, fellow Russian Grandmaster Sergei Shipov, another apologist for Russia's invasion, was found not guilty. Shipov's comments were deemed "slightly different and less provocative".

Sergey Shipov (right) with Sergey Karjakin at the Baku World Cup. Shipov was cleared of a Code of Ethics breach | photo: official website

The ruling on Karjakin relates to article 2.2.10 of the Code of Ethics and was made by FIDE's EDC First Instance Chamber, formed by Yolander Persaud, Ravindra Dongre, and Johan Sigeman as Chairperson.

It reads as follows:

(…) Disciplinary action in accordance with this Code of Ethics will be taken in cases of occurrences which cause the game of chess, FIDE or its federations to appear in an unjustifiable unfavorable light and in this way damage its reputation.

In a 10-page document explaining the reasons and legal background for its decision, the chamber said: “The statements by Sergey Karjakin on the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine has led to a considerable number of reactions on social media and elsewhere, to a large extent negative towards the opinions expressed by Sergey Karjakin."

It added: “A necessary condition for the establishment of guilt is that the statements have reached the public domain.

"This concept, with respect to disrepute clauses in sport, is not the world at large but the sport in which the accused engages, such as chess. Information concerning the accused's conduct which is not published in the media, but which can be learnt without a great deal of labour by persons engaged in the chess world or a relevant part of it, will be in the public domain and satisfy the public exposure element.

"The EDC Chamber is comfortably satisfied that this condition is fulfilled in this case.”

"Celebrating the first day of Spring. A Russian Spring", wrote Sergey Karjakin from Dubai

The ruling concluded: “The EDC Chamber finds, against the background given above, on the standard of comfortable satisfaction that the statements of Sergey Karjakin, which, by his own choice and presentation, can be connected to the game of chess, damage the reputation of the game of chess and/or FIDE. The likelihood that these statements will damage the reputation of Sergey Karjakin personally is also considerable."

The Chamber explained its decision to not sanction Sergei Shipov with the following argument: “In comparison with Sergey Karjakin, Sergei Shipov is considerably less known and has therefore a less powerful platform.

"The statements made by Sergei Shipov are also of a slightly different and less provocative character than the ones made by Karjakin. In an overall evaluation of the potential negative impact on the game of chess and/or FIDE, the EDC Chamber is not sufficiently convinced that Sergei Shipov’s statements qualify as a breach of article 2.2.10.”

Karjakin is out of the Candidates if he fails to successfully appeal the ban and the event takes place on schedule. A new player would qualify by rating — at present that would be Ding Liren, but he also needs to play 26 games in the next few months

Karjakin has been advised by the EDC that this decision may be appealed to the Appeal Chamber of the EDC by giving written notice of such appeal to the FIDE Secretariat within 21 days from the date upon which this decision is received.

The notice of appeal must clearly state all the grounds for the appeal. Failing the due exercise of this right of appeal, the EDC Chamber's decision will become final.

Implications for the Candidates

Should Karjakin lose his place in the Candidates, according to the tournament regulations the next in line is the highest-rated player on the May ratings list who has not already booked a place and has also reached the qualifying mark of playing 30 games in the previous year.

In the most recent list that is world No.3 Ding Liren — who is currently playing in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour's Charity Cup — with a FIDE rating of 2799. However, Ding is short on games and has Levon Aronian — now representing the US — breathing down his neck on 2785.

The third and final leg of the FIDE Grand Prix also starts tomorrow in Berlin, with the top two finishers progressing to the Candidates Tournament. After today's decision, potentially a third place is at stake, with Wesley So also in the hunt for the ratings place.

FIDE's rules for the Candidates state: "If any replacement is needed, the highest-rated player in the FIDE May 2022 standard rating list shall be invited, provided he/she has at least 30 standard games rated in the FIDE rating lists from June 2021 to May 2022."

Karjakin's controversial stance

Among Karjakin's public statements about the war was an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he appeared to parrot Putin's own justifications for the "special operation".

He wrote: "I appeal to you at this difficult time, when our country, led by you, is fighting for the safety of the peaceful Russian population of Donbass and the Lugansk People’s Republic.

"It is fighting for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, with its ruling regime, which has put the security of all of Europe and our country at risk, for the sake of its political goals and ambitions.

"I am closely following the ongoing special operation, in the lands where I spent my childhood, where I learned to play chess and where my relatives still live.

"For eight long years we have been waiting with hope for salvation from countless shelling and loss of human lives, the ongoing genocide by the still acting Kiev regime.

"I express to you, our commander-in-chief, full support in protecting the interests of Russia, our multinational Russian people, eliminating threats and establishment of peace! I wish you the speedy fulfilment of all the tasks assigned to our valiant army."

Karjakin is a former World Champion at both Rapid and Blitz who previously held the record for the world's youngest ever grandmaster, having qualified for the title at the age of 12 years and 7 months.

See also: 

Sort by Date Descending Date Descending Date Ascending Most Liked Receive updates

Comments 136

Guest 19090945933
Join chess24
  • Free, Quick & Easy

  • Be the first to comment!

Lost your password? We'll send you a link to reset it!

After submitting this form you'll receive an email with the reset password link. If you still can't access your account please contact our customer service.

Which features would you like to enable?

We respect your privacy and data protection guidelines. Some components of our site require cookies or local storage that handles personal information.

Show Options

Hide Options