ChessBase Logo Shop Link
Language :
Search :
OK

Cheating suspicion at the Zadar Open in Croatia

1/4/2013 – In this event, with 16 GMs and a host of other strong players, one participant stood out especially: the 25-year-old untitled Bulgarian Borislav Ivanov scored 6.0/9 points, with a rating performance of 2697. In the January FIDE list Ivanov has gained 115 points over his previous 2277 rating, gained in over 400 games over three years. A certain suspicion once again raises its ugly head.
 

The International Zadar Open took place from December 16 to 22, 2012, at the Falkensteiner Hotels & Resorts Borik in Zadar, Croatia. The tournament consisted of two groups, Open A for the players rated above 2300 FIDE and Open B for the players rated U2200. Players rated between 2200-2300 could choose the group in which they would prefer to compete. Both groups were played as nine-round Swiss tournaments, with time controls of 90 min for the whole game + 30 sec increment per move. The top prize in Open A was 2200 Euros, first place in Open B was awarded 500 Euros. Here are the top final standings of the event.

Rg. Title Name FED Rtng Pts
 TB1 
 TB2 
 TB3 
Perf
+/–
1 GM Predojevic Borki BIH 2600 6.5
36.0
45.5
32.0
2645
+6
2 GM Stevic Hrvoje CRO 2622 6.5
34.0
42.5
29.5
2644
+4
3 GM Sumets Andrey UKR 2638 6.0
38.0
48.0
33.5
2628
+1
4 Ivanov Borislav BUL 2227 6.0
36.5
47.5
30.5
2697
+49
5 GM Jovanic Ognjen CRO 2538 5.5
38.5
47.5
31.0
2575
+1
6 GM Kožul Zdenko CRO 2638 5.5
37.0
47.5
31.5
2562
–7
7 GM Šaric Ante CRO 2533 5.5
36.5
45.0
30.0
2581
+7
8 GM Martinovic Saša CRO 2530 5.5
35.0
44.5
28.5
2586
+8
9 GM Cebalo Mišo CRO 2402 5.5
33.5
43.5
25.0
2544
+16
10 GM Kuljaševic Davorin CRO 2561 5.5
32.5
41.5
26.0
2514
–5
11 GM Jovanovic Zoran CRO 2503 5.5
32.5
41.5
25.5
2542
+1
12 GM Brkic Ante CRO 2583 5.0
37.5
48.5
30.0
2562
–3
13 IM Kadric Denis BIH 2458 5.0
37.0
47.0
29.5
2579
+15
14 GM Lalic Bogdan CRO 2484 5.0
36.0
47.0
26.5
2554
+8
15 GM Šaric Ivan CRO 2626 5.0
34.5
44.0
28.5
2517
–12
16 IM Jakovljevic Vlado BIH 2404 5.0
31.5
40.0
22.5
2506
+12

As you can see the untitled Bulgarian player Borislav Ivanov, who is a computer programmer, produced a remarkable result, playing 470 points above his nominal (and highest ever) FIDE rating of 2227. Here for the record are his individual results in the Zadar Open, which include wins against grandmasters Bojan Kurajica, Robert Zelcic, Zdenko Kozul and Ivan Saric.

Rd.
Bo.
SNo
Title
Name
Rtng
FED
Pts.
Res.
1
18
18
FM
Schachinger Mario
2426
AUT
4.5
w 1
2
7
10
GM
Jovanic Ognjen
2538
CRO
5.5
s 0
3
12
7
GM
Kurajica Bojan
2565
BIH
4.5
w 1
4
7
8
GM
Kuljaševic Davorin
2561
CRO
5.5
s ½
5
7
9
GM
Zelcic Robert
2560
CRO
4.5
w 1
6
2
2
GM
Kožul Zdenko
2638
CRO
5.5
s 1
7
1
1
GM
Sumets Andrey
2638
UKR
6.0
s ½
8
1
5
GM
Predojevic Borki
2600
BIH
6.5
w 0
9
3
3
GM
Šaric Ivan
2626
CRO
5.0
s 1

The meteoric progress in this event led a number of players to sound alarm signals, and the organisers conducted what has been called a "strip search" of the Bulgarian player – which naturally drew the attention of main stream media in Croatia. Jutarnji List described it less sensationally: Ivanov was asked to take off his shirt, empty his pockets and submit his pen for inspection. Nothing was found. But is spite of that the story was out. Here are three reports from Croatia:

The headline reads: "Genius or crook? Check Bulgarian chess player stripped to see whether he is using cheating chip!" And the intro paragraph: "Ivanov is 25 years old and has a job as a programmer. Everybody is watching him, but he is not doing anything that raises suspicion that he might be receiving signals during the game." You can read the full article (in Croatian) here.

The Croatian Times article goes on to say that Borislav Ivanov was stripped and had his clothing searched after judges decided he must have a hidden aid telling him what moves to make after he beat much better ranked chess players.

There were 36 competitors at the tournament, including 16 grandmasters, five International Masters, and ten FIDE masters. According to the rating, the Bulgarian without any chess ranking was supposed to be an easy rival, but surprisingly started winning game after a game. In the first round he managed to defeat Croatian masters Bojan Kurajica, Robert Zelcic and Zdenko Kozul. "After the eighth round there were suspicions that Ivanov has some electronic tools to help him, and in my capacity of a judge I decided to make a move in line with the FIDE rules," Stanislav Maroja, the chairperson of the chess union in Zadar District told daily newspaper Jutarnji List. But nothing was found on Ivanov, a 26-year-old computer programmer.

"Technologies are so developed now that theoretically, since the games were broadcast live, Ivanov’s friends in the neighbouring room, from Sofia, or even from the Antarctic, could have sent him hints for his moves through chips, which could have been placed under the skin, in the ear, or in the teeth," one of the tournament participants told Jutarnji List.

IFocus reports: "A huge scandal burst out at the international chess tournament in the Croatian city of Zadar, after the organisers decided to undress Bulgarian chess player Borislav Ivanov to the skin, because they thought he had implanted chips, which tell him what moves to make. Everyone was looking at him but he did not reveal any evidence of using illegal help; he did not even have headphones, but all his moves were astonishing. “It is not true that we made him strip naked. He himself took off his t-shirt, while we emptied his pockets,” said Chief Oraniser Stanislav Maroja.

Knowledgeable sources though the Bulgarian was cheating. However, they were wondering why he would take part in a tournament, which costs a couple of thousands of euro, while the cheating equipment, which can be integrated into contact lenses, for instance, costs thousands of Euros more. The suspicions about Ivanov’s cheating were based on the fact that when the organisers stopped the broadcasting of the round before the last one, when Ivanov played vs Predoevic, the Bulgarian lost the game. Croatian grandmaster Zlatko Klaric said that Ivanov was cheating, because he was already accused of this at chess competitions in Bulgaria and Serbia.
“Ivanov is chess programmer, who since mid-2011 until now had won only one rating point, while at the Zadar tournament he won 60. He made moves like a computer, which was obvious in the game vs Jovanovic,” Klaric remarked. “Technologies are so developed now that theoretically, since the games were aired live, Ivanov’s friends in the neighbouring room, from Sofia, or even from the Antarctic, could have sent him hints for his moves through chips, which could have been placed under the skin, in the ear, or in the teeth,” Klaric added.


Borislav Ivanov is ranked 114 in Bulgaria, and after playing over 400 games in three years had reached his highest ever rating of 2227 at the end of last year. In the January list of FIDE, which has included his Zadar Open results, he is listed at 2342, 115 points higher than his previous rating.

Here are all available games from the Zadar Open in PGN. We have extracted the games of Borislav Ivanov and present them for replay in our Javascript player. There you can also download the games in a single file, and perhaps check them for correlation with chess engine moves. That can be done automatically with the Let's Check funtion of Fritz 13 and Houdini.

We would be interested to know if anyone finds suspicious correlation of Ivanov's moves with that of a chess engine, e.g. Houdini. Especially in view of the very sharp, tactical games Ivanov played, successfully, against strong GM opposition, this could be a fairly important task. The Let's Check feature of Fritz 13 can display the Engine/Game Correlation, as it did in the French cheating scandal.

Oh dear, we are going to have to publish the final section of our History of Chess article series...

ChessBase series on cheating

A history of cheating in chess (1)
29.09.2011 – Hardly a month goes by without some report of cheating in international chess tournaments. The problem has become acute, but it is not new. In 2001 Frederic Friedel contributed a paper to the book "Advances in Computer Chess 9". It traces the many forms of illicit manipulations in chess and, a decade later, appears disconcertingly topical and up-to-date. We reproduce the paper in five parts.
A history of cheating in chess (2)
04.10.2011 – Coaching players during the game is probably the most widespread form of cheating (rivaled only perhaps by bribery and the throwing of games). Although this practice began long before the advent of chess playing machines, computers have added a new and dramatic dimension to this method of cheating in chess. You will never guess: who were the pioneers of cheating with computers?
A history of cheating in chess (3)
18.12.2011 – In January 1999 the main topic of conversation amongst top players like Kasparov, Anand and others: who was the mysterious German chess amateur, rated below 2000, who had won a strong Open ahead of GMs and IMs, with wonderfully courageous attacking chess and a 2630 performance? How had he done it? Turns out it was with unconventional methods, as subsequent investigation uncovered.
A history of cheating in chess (4)
28.02.2012 – Las Palmas 1996: Garry Kasparov is agonizing over his 20th move against Vishy Anand. He calculates and calculates but cannot make a very tempting pawn push work. Immediately after the game he discovers, from his helpers, that it would have won the ultimately drawn position. The point that became clear to him: a single bit of information, given at the top level in chess, can decide a game.

New in Chess debate

Anti-cheating: the fifteen minute broadcast delay
13.05.2011 – For five years we have been trying to get FIDE to implement a 15-minute delay in the Internet broadcast of important games – to make organised cheating harder. A chess journalist has now pointed out a fatal flaw in the plan: it would force chess journalists to walk many yards to find out the current status of the games. Damn – and we thought it was such a good idea! What is your opinion?

Anti-cheating: the fifteen minute debate continues
29.06.2011 – Our recent reply to stern criticism leveled against us in the Dutch magazine New in Chess resulted, unsurprisingly, in a large number of letters from our readers, many quite effusive. But we decided not to publish any until at least one turned up supporting the views of our NiC critic. Six weeks went by until it at last came, authored by the critic himself. Now we can publish your letters.

Reports on the French cheating scandal

Feller's interview, and a solution to the cheating scandal
23.08.2011 – The French Championship is in its eighth round, with four GMs in the joint lead. The event is marred by continued suspicion and anti-cheating measures, brought on by accusations that one of the participants had in the past engaged in organised cheating. Sébastien Feller has given an interview on the subject, and we have a proposal on how to clear up the matter quickly.
Cheating scandal: Opinions, concerns and revelations
06.04.2011 – In a series of interviews, Robert Fontaine from Europe Echecs, culled the opinions of the players, to get a clearer idea on how players both French and foreign viewed the cheating scandal. A lengthy interview with Jean-Claude Moingt, the president of the French federation, revealed not only the next steps to be taken, but also that confessions were not only made to the players. An eye-opener.
French Chess Federation suspends players accused of cheating
21.03.2011 – On Saturday the Disciplinary Committee of the French Chess Federation suspended GMs Sebastien Feller, Arnaud Hauchard and IM Cyril Marzolo, finding them “guilty of a violation of sporting ethics” for allegedly cheating during the Chess Olympiad 2010 in Khanty-Mansiysk. The three received suspensions, after evidence was presented, including a detailed description of how it was done.
FFE accuses its own players of cheating
22.01.2011 – Shocking news: the French Chess Federation (FFE) has announced that it has initiated disciplinary action against three players – one of them one of France's most promising talents – on suspicion of "organized cheating, serious breach of sport ethics, undermining the image of the national Olympic team in Khanty-Mansyik". We are following the investigation. Press release.
Feller replies: 'I completely deny the cheating accusations'
24.01.2011 – Two days ago the French Chess Federation announced the investigation of three French players on suspicion of "organized cheating" at the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansyik. Now one of the three, 19-year-old French GM Sebastien Feller, has replied emphatically, implying that the entire action was a result of his support of the current FIDE president (the FFE supported his rival Karpov). Open letter.
Battesti: 'It's insulting to our president and his federation'
24.01.2011 – Instead of adopting an ostrich position the President of the French Chess Federation and his VP have initiated an investigation of French Olympiad members suspected of cheating. They have appointed Leo Battesti, a Sorbonne-educated lawyer, as the spokesperson for the Federation. Battesti has reacted to the criticism of one of the accused player with an interview in Europe Echecs.
French GMs: ''We express our full support of the FFE
27.01.2011 – Four grandmasters Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet, Vladislav Tkachiev and Romain Edouard have expressed their dismay at the charges brought against three of their colleagues who are accused of cheating. "If the allegations are found to be true, we will condemn them firmly," they write, in this public statement in Europe Echecs.
FFE: cheating not the first time, Biel statement
01.02.2011– The French Chess Federation disclosed they had evidence that the "organized cheating" accusation, which has rocked the chess world recently, is in fact not the first time. They have now mandated the Federal Bureau to take the case to trial in a court of law. Meanwhile the Organisers in Biel have issued a statement on the same players earlier last year in their Master Group. Open letters.
FFE Cheating: Judge rules incriminating SMS inadmissible
11.03.2011– After unearthing a series of SMS messages between players accused of cheating at the Olympiad using a phone lent by the French Chess Federation vice president, the FFE sought to have those messages transcribed and included as evidence in the upcoming Disciplinary Committee. A judge ruled that secrecy could only be waived if the FFE sued in court, as the FFE explains in a public statement.
French Chess Federation suspends players accused of cheating
21.03.2011 – On Saturday the Disciplinary Committee of the French Chess Federation suspended GMs Sebastien Feller, Arnaud Hauchard and IM Cyril Marzolo, finding them “guilty of a violation of sporting ethics” for allegedly cheating during the Chess Olympiad 2010 in Khanty-Mansiysk. The three received suspensions, after evidence was presented, including a detailed description of how it was done.
Cheating in chess: the problem won't go away
30.03.2011 – As you know the recent suspicion of organized cheating during a Chess Olympiad has led to three French players being suspended. One is currently playing in the European Individual Championship, where his colleagues have published an open letter demanding additional security. For years we have been proposing a remedy for this very serious problem. It needs to be implemented now.
Sebastien Feller wins Paris Championship
13.07.2010 – The Paris Championship is the oldest French Open – Abraham Baratz won the first edition in 1925. The leading players in this year's event included GM Tigran Gharamian (2650), GM Alberto David (2622) and GM Sébastien Feller (2611). The Open Tournament took place from July 3rd to 11th, 2010. It was a nine-round Swiss, FIDE rules, 40 moves/1h 30 + 30 sec then 30 mn + 30 sec. Pictorial report.

Copyright ChessBase

Feedback and mail to our news service Please use this account if you want to contribute to or comment on our news page service

See also

Discuss

Rules for reader comments
    Not registered yet? Register
© 2013 ChessBase GmbH | Osterbekstraße 90a | 22083 Hamburg | Germany |  Imprint  | Contact  | Home