Nigel Short pushes for cheating enquiry

2/1/2007 – The international press has picked up the story on cheating allegations that have been leveled at Veselin Topalov and Silvio Danailov during the Wijk aan Zee tournament. There have been claims that signaling was also used during the 2005 World Championship in San Luis, Argentinia. Nigel Short, who was in San Luis, observed something sinister in San Luis. Press reports.

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The original story with the cheating allegations appeared on Saturday January 27,2007, in the printed edition of one of Germany's largest newspapers, the Süddeutsche Zeitung.The author is Martin Breutigam, an International Chess Master and longtime contributor to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, and other major newspapers. ChessBase published a translation of the article with permission of the author. The condition for linking to the article was that the full text had to be given and translation as close to the original as possible. The original German article is here.

Daily News & Analysis, India (28.01.2007)
Arbiter opens Topalov file: Veselin Topalov and his manager Silvio Danailov are being closely watched by the chief arbiter at the Corus Chess Championship after an International Master accused the duo of using ‘illegal’ resources to win. [Full article]

Novinite – Sofia News Agency (27.01.07)
Bulgaria's top chess player Vesselin Topalov was involved in another scandal after Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper accused him of using help during games from his manager. The newspaper claimed Topalov used his manager Silvio Danailov to get hints for his moves on the chessboard and that could be clearly seen on the Wijk aan Zee tournament. Suddetusche also claims there are rumours Topalov won the San Luis 2005 world tournament using illegal means, because his manager showed him which were the best moves according to a computer program. According to the author Danailov and Topalov communicated in a secret, non-verbal manner. [Full article]

International News, Bulgaria (29.01.07)
A new cheating allegation against Veselin Topalov was made at the weekend, just as the world No 1 ranked grandmaster started his grudge game against the world champion, Vladimir Kramnik, in the elite Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. An article in a German newspaper claimed that the Bulgarian's manager, Silvio Danailov, made suspicious hand and facial movements while in eye contact with his player during Topalov's second-round game a week earlier against the Dutch champion, Loek van Wely. Each time Van Wely moved, Danailov would leave the hall, make a mobile phone call and then return. While Topalov considered his next move his manager would scratch himself several times behind his ear or tap his glasses with his finger. [Full article]

India Times (30.01.07)
This year's Corus chess tournament would sadly not be remembered for the right reasons in the wake of accusations of cheating by world's top rated Bulgarian and eventual joint winner Veselin Topalov. The heroics of Armenian Levon Aronian, who emerged as the joint winner along with Topalov and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, or for that matter, the mediocre show by five-time winner Viswanathan Anand – were all overshadowed by the scandal. One of his supporters backed Topalov amid the accusations. "Veselin Topalov is a man that works for chess, its development, and promotion. If you people, that write articles with no facts or credible arguments, do not care about the future development of chess and the ones that work for its promotion, you should at least not hinder that process," he wrote in his website. [Full story]


Short take: Veselin Topalov could have been cheating

Vijay Tagore, Tuesday, January 30, 2007 22:59 IST

Did Veselin Topalov cheat in Corus, in San Luis and elsewhere? Yes, if one goes by circumstantial evidence. One is tempted to infer that the Bulgarian Grandmaster could be the recipient of external help while wrestling with the top brains of the world.

In the Corus championship, which concluded in Wijk aan Zee, Topalov’s behaviour was reportedly suspect. It was not the first time though that Topalov has faced such allegations. Immediately after the San Luis championship, a Bulgarian website reported that the former world champion had received outside help. Most GMs believe that Topalov occasionally, if not constantly, was in non-verbal communications with his manager Silvio Danailov but no one voiced his opinion. But for the first time, someone has.

Nigel Short, a former world championship finalist, tells DNA that Topalov could have received external help. “It is my understanding that the majority of players in San Luis privately believe that Topalov received signalling from Danailov during play. The essence of these allegations, which I heard personally from disgruntled players in Argentina at the time, was not that Topalov constantly received computer advice but only at critical junctures. Indeed, if one were to cheat, a player of Topalov’s strength would only need two or three computer moves per game to put him at an overwhelming advantage vis-a-vis his opponents.”

The British GM says he observed something sinister in San Luis, where Topalov bulldozed his rivals to emerge a run-away winner. In fact, Topalov had 6.5 from seven games which could be equivalent to running 100 metres in about 9 seconds at that level of competition. “In San Luis I did observe, indeed I was quite struck by the fact, that Danailov sat in close physical proximity to Topalov during play. Furthermore, his not infrequent entering and exiting the hall would have provided facile opportunities for receiving communication from a third party. In fact any half-decent player with a laptop and an analysis engine is likely to be better appraised of the position, upon entering the room, than the GMs seated at the board themselves.”

Short believed the World Chess (Fide) should order an inquiry. “I believe there is a clear case for setting up an independent committee of decent honorable people to examine the dozens of hours of TV footage from San Luis (the whole event was recorded). Furthermore any evidence available from Mexico and Linares, Wijk aan Zee, etc. should also be examined.”

Short, who won the Commonwealth chess championship in November in Mumbai, terms the toiletgate charges against Vladimir Kramnik as a diversionary tactic. “Those of a cynical mind might view the Danailov/Topalov allegations of Kramnik’s cheating in Elista to be a smokescreen to deflect scrutiny from their own activities.” [Full article]


Guardian Unlimited (01.02.07)

Experts divided over cheating allegation against Topalov

Leonard Barden, Monday January 29, 2007

A new cheating allegation against Veselin Topalov was made at the weekend just as the world No 1 ranked grandmaster started his grudge game against the world champion, Vladimir Kramnik, in the elite Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. An article in a German newspaper claimed that the Bulgarian's manager, Silvio Danailov, made suspicious hand and facial movements while in eye contact with his player during Topalov's second-round game a week earlier against the Dutch champion, Loek van Wely. Each time Van Wely moved, Danailov would leave the hall, make a mobile phone call and then return. While Topalov considered his next move his manager would scratch himself several times behind his ear or tap his glasses with his finger.

It later emerged that the writer of the article, the international master Martin Breutigam, is an associate of Kramnik's manager, Carsten Hensel (1). Last week a Topalov aide published a book titled Toilet War, repeating and extending the allegations that Kramnik had himself used a computer aid during their 2006 world title series in Elista in Russia, which the Muscovite won by a narrow margin.

Both Van Wely, who attributed his 35-move defeat to being outplayed, and the chief arbiter voiced no suspicions. However, in the next day's third round when Topalov had a dubious position against the Ukrainian prodigy Sergey Karjakin and Danailov again tried to establish eye contact, the referee blocked his view. It also emerged yesterday that the former Fide champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Russia's world No 8 Alexander Morozevich believed there had been irregularities when Topalov won the world title in San Luis, Argentina, in 2005.

The latest allegations have left experts deeply divided. Many deride Breutigam's claims. Topalov himself, quizzed yesterday, laughed off the idea that hand signals could help his play. An expert who examined the crucial moves in the disputed games concluded that Van Wely had lost to a normal attack. However, there is believed to be as yet unpublished video footage of Danailov which has been shown to the all-time No 1 Garry Kasparov, who thought that there were questions to answer. At the heart of the argument is Topalov's sudden improvement when he was 30. The Bulgarians attribute this to hard work. The jury is still out. [Full article]

(1) Addendum: Martin Breutigam has replied to this article with the following statement: "I am definitely not an associate of Kramnik's Manager, Carsten Hensel! I am an independent journalist, I have an open mind and I’m interested in nothing but the truth. Please correct this mistake immediately. Thank you very much!"

Short pushes for cheating inqiry

Leonard Barden, Thursday February 1, 2007

Nigel Short, the former world title challenger, has called for an International Chess Federation inquiry into cheating allegations against the world No1-ranked grandmaster, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.

Last week a German newspaper published detailed claims by the German international master Martin Breutigam that Topalov's manager, Silvio Danailov, had often left the spectator area to make mobile phone calls in the second and third rounds of the recent Corus Wijk aan Zee elite tournament. On his return he made eye contact with his player and then hand signals.

Similar claims were made after the Fide world championship at San Luis, Argentina, in 2005, when Topalov won the title after scoring 6.5/7 points in the first half. Short, who was the official commentator in San Luis, told the DNAIndia news group: "I personally heard allegations from disgruntled players in Argentina at the time that Topalov received computer advice, though only at critical junctures."

Short, president of the Commonwealth Chess Association, added: "In San Luis I observed that Danailov sat close to Topalov during play. His not infrequent entering and exiting the hall would have provided opportunities for receiving communication from a third party." [Full article]


Meanwhile Veselin Topalov's manager Silvio Danailov has reacted to the FIDE announcement rejecting the two million dollar challenge made by the Bulgarians for a match against Kramnik in the coming weeks.

International News, Belgrade (29.01.07)
Silvio Danailov, Topalov's manager, announced that they are going to file a claim against FIDE for refusing to organise a rematch between Topalov and Kramnik. A rematch between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik will not take place according to FIDE's President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

"We will take this to the Lausanne Court of Arbitration for Sport," Silvio Danailov announced for the BTA news agency. "We will file a complaint as soon as we go through the decision of FIDE Presidential Board and see what their motives are," he explained. Topalov's manager said that according to unconfirmed information FIDE have already organized a rematch between Topalov and Kramnik in secret whatever the outcome of the World Championship in Mexico. "This is outrageous. FIDE takes us back to the years of Satanism," Silvio Danailov commented. "They won't give us a rematch but we are allowed to take part in the World Championship in Mexico while Kramnik is guaranteed a rematch whatever the outcome," Danailov said.

"We are not afraid because everything was done according to the law," FIDE's President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov replied. [Full article]


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