Kovalyov shames CFC community
To regular readers of this blog 21-year old Grandmaster Anton Kovalyov is no stranger! Born in the Ukraine in 1992, the family emigrated to Argentina while Anton was still a young child. In Buenos Aires he learned the moves and quickly made progress, attracting the attention of the country’s top trainers and coaches. Unhappy with the economic prospects that Argentina offered, the family then moved to Canada in the summer of 2007. Anton was by then a 15-year old IM and one of the world’s top juniors.
I was approached by the mother (while Anton played in Spain and Portugal in 2007) to see if I could help get some financial support for the budding prodigy to develop his worldclass talent. I quickly found a Montreal sponsor for $15,000, but what then followed is a typical story of a chess community crippled by corrupt leadership, mediocrity and petty jealousies.
The Montreal sponsor wanted to have the 15k used for Anton’s chess development and principally to for travel to European tournaments where the opportunities are numerous and of high quality. Problems arose when the CFC was asked to use its tax-charity status to for tax receipts for the 15k: the sponsor quickly realized that the CFC wanted to rip off the money!
First the CFC leadership refused to help Anton because he was not yet a Canadian citizen(!) and next the CFC said it would only help Anton if it could have full control of the 15k and could use it to organize tournaments in Canada for other juniors….where, ofcourse, Anton could participate if he wanted to!
To make a long story short, the sponsor soon walked away and swore to never get involved with the CFC again. Anton –while still one of the top two or three elite juniors in the world–was left to stagnate and play in Montreal weekend tournaments.
Anton played in Portugal tournaments on several occasions. He was one of the most gifted juniors I had ever come across.
Over the coming years, even though Anton soon entered the select 2600-plus club for juniors, he was ignored by both the Canadian chess community and the Canadian press. On one occasion Anton phoned a Toronto organizer to ask for an invitation to play in one of its International Opens, but was refused– even though he was clearly the best player living in Canada.
Discouraged by these and other develpments, Anton rapidly began to lose interest in chess and began to increasingly think of a future without chess. By his own admission, this past year Anton did not even try to study chess! FORTUNATELY, only recently he was offered a chess-scholarship to a university in Texas and he accepted. Since then, Anton has re-newed his interest in chess and has re-ignited his passion for the game once more. Anton has won the last two tournaments that he has played in…Today Anton is the biggest Open winner in North America! I will not be surprised if he becomes the first Canadian to break the 2700 barrier….
Congrats, Anton! And shame on Canadian chess…