Sadly, though, Nouri's performance in the GMA has been cast in some rather malicious light in GM Alex Baburin's "Chess Today" publication. Writing about Nouri in issue no. 2207, Andrey Deviatkin said:
[O]ne of the 6-scored players is absolutely unknown – it is Hamed Nouri from the Philippines, who doesn't even have a FIDE ranking. He began the tournament from 2/4, but in the rounds 6-8 he beat 3 grandmasters in a row – the Philippinos (sic) Antonio and Villamayor and, finally, Vladimir Belov from Russia (2589) with Black pieces! In the last round he will be faced with the 4th GM, Mikhalevsky, so it's interesting to see if he continues his outstanding series. I may add that this all looks rather strange.
Strange? What is so strange about it? Bobby Ang, our favourite chess columnist, was moved to fire back. This is a portion of his letter published in issue no. 2208:
I don't know what is being implied by this "... it all looks rather strange". Hamed Nouri is a Philippine National Master from Bacolod, and he is a very strong player. He has beaten our GMs in the past during team tournaments and national championships. Nouri is a typical player who is not based in Metro Manila and therefore has not had an opportunity to shine. Please do not take away from him this magnificent achievement for which he trained intensively.
To be fair, Alex Baburin did reply to Bobby and offered some clarification. In this day and age when people are worried about computer assistance, Baburin said, it's easy to be suspicious when an unknown like Hamed Nouri strings together a hat-trick of wins as he did. Alex also writes:
Or perhaps [Andrey Deviatkin] found it strange that such a strong player, capable of beating GMs, was not FIDE rated yet. In any case, I trust in the presumption of innocence in chess and gladly accept that Mr Nouri is a strong and talented player, who simply had little exposure in international chess. I have come across such players often enough.
Fair enough but a pointblank apology would have been preferred. Something like: "We apologise to Hamed Nouri, to his opponents and to the organisers for any suggestion of underhanded business."