By Caroline Davies and Malcolm Pein
The Daily Telegraph/UK
It was a most unorthodox opening move for a grandmaster intent on
vanquishing his opponent, but then this was on a dance-floor and not
When Danny Gormally, 30, one of Britain’s leading chess players, spied
his Armenian rival and the world’s No 3 at the Turin Chess Olympiad
jiving with a beautiful chess queen, usual tactics were abandoned.
In a spectacular strategic blunder, Mr Gormally allegedly moved in
with clenched fist and sent Levon Aronian, the 23-year-old Armenian
national hero, sprawling.
As gambits go, it was to prove one of the worst. Not only did
Mr Gormally sacrifice both his dignity and place in the team,
but the following day found himself at the wrong end of a beating
as Mr Aronian’s hot-headed team-mates weighed in with a forceful
Yesterday Mr Gormally, a professional player, was at his Durham flat
refusing to discuss the incident. The rest of the chess world was,
According to insiders, the catalyst for this whole sorry affair was
the appearance on the dance floor of attractive Australian female No
3, Arianne Caoili, 19, whom Mr Gormally’s team-mates believed him to
be fond of.
Neither shy nor retiring, Miss Caoili, of Filipino descent and who
aspires to be a professional singer, is clearly intent on enjoying
life. Her website lists her likes as “getting up to no good”, “fine
food and fine boys”, “Edward Norton and Johnny Depp” and “Pina coladas,
vodka, red wine, Kahlua, dwarfs and the odd Cuban cigar”.
Apart from improving her chess, which she has been playing since she
was five, her ambitions include earning “giant gobs of money”.
Clearly a party girl, she had a reputation, according to one source
on the chess circuit, “for coming back at 2am and waking people up,
then having recharged her batteries, leaving again at 5am”.
Mr Gormally is understood to have been in e-mail contact with her
prior to the Olympiad. However, he is not alone in being drawn, if
drawn he is, by her allure. For Miss Caoili is currently voted No 7
in the Top Ten Women’s Chess Beauty Contest on a website dedicated to
the charms of chess’s female finest in terms of looks if not always
in terms of rankings.
Lest anyone decry the site for being sexist, these women actually
apply to be on it, submitting their often risque photographs and
urging surfers to vote for them. Among them is Maria Manakova, a
32-year-old Serbian grandmaster, who has posed nude for magazines
and turned up at tournaments in skimpy clothing and towering heels.
She is currently at No 9 in the beauty contest. Another chess beauty,
though she has not chosen to take part in the contest, is Russia’s
Alexandra Kosteniuk, 21, currently No 3 in the Women’s World Chess
rankings, who became a grandmaster at 14 and is now a model whose
photograph has graced many a magazine cover. All of which rather
belies the traditional view of chess.
The Gormally incident took place at the “Bermuda Party” at the
nightclub, Hiroshima Mon Armour, one of many parties hosted during
the Chess Olympiad.
>From accounts that have emerged, most agree that Mr Gormally punched
Mr Aronian for innocently dancing with Miss Caoili.
Allan Beardsworth, the England team captain, said the following day
the England team promptly apologised.
It was hoped that a diplomatic incident could be averted, and all
could get on with the business of playing chess.
However, Armenia may be a small country, but it’s big on chess. And Mr
Aronian enjoys a similar level of hero-worship to, say, David Beckham.
Mr Gormally’s second strategic blunder was taking tea with some
team-mates on the pavement outside a cafe.
Had he not been so visible, perhaps Mr Aronian’s aggrieved colleagues
would not have found him. But, find him they did with one taking a
swing at Mr Gormally.
It was left to Jon Speelman, an England grandmaster who speaks Russian,
to intervene and calm the situation down.
Mr Gormally subsequently left the tournament and returned home.
Yesterday Mr Speelman was reluctant to elaborate on his role as
peace-maker. “I think it is a somewhat unfortunate story. Happily
there was more or less closure without anybody being hurt and I am
very grateful for that,” he said.
Mr Beardsworth was of a similar opinion. “I feel sorry for Danny. I
feel sorry for the whole incident. I feel sorry for the sport” he said,
stressing that Mr Aronian had been an innocent victim.
“The Olympiad is a very friendly event where nationalities from all
around the world come together. It’s just a great shame that this
one will be remembered for one little punch in a nightclub.”
One source said: “The Armenians won the Gold Medal so it didn’t affect
them too much.”
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress