FIDE ACC statement on Sandu affair

by Albert Silver
6/26/2015 – Readers will recall the shocking letter in the European Women Chess Championship, which fifteen players signed, regarding their ‘concerns’ for cheating by WGM Michaela Sandu. Even the most superficial analysis showed the utter lack of evidence to support this. Finally, FIDE’s Anti-Cheating Commission has issued a statement on the matter.

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WGM Michaela Sandu was having the tournament of her life, playing solidly, and enjoying self-destructive play by her opponents, as shown in the final report on the event when round six met with a letter signed by no fewer than fifteen players, casting suspicion on the integrity of the Romanian’s play. They asked that Sandu’s games be singled out and not be transmitted so as to “prevent all possible suspicions.”

Ms. Michaela Sandu

The letter was signed by: Natalia Zhukova, Alisa Galliamova, Lanita Stetsko, Nastassia Ziaziulkina,
Anastasia Bodnaruk, Anastasia Savina, Dina Belenkaya, Jovana Vojinovic, Evgenija Ovod, Salome
Melia, Svetlana Matveeva, Marina Guseva, Anna Tskhadadze, Tatyana Ivanova, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya.

Unsurprisingly, the backlash reply was suitable, with support coming from all corners. Her compatriot Irina Bulmaga’s post on her blog “Cheating and Ego Matters” was but an example. Now the Anti-Cheating Commission, founded at Tromso 2014, has released a statement on the matter.

official logo

ACC statement regarding the European Women’s Individual Championship in Chavki, Georgia

ACC regulations were published in Tromso 2014 as an answer to the rising - yet not unknown - phenomenon of cheating in chess, especially at a time when electronic devices are becoming more widespread. FIDE has dedicated a lot of thought and resources to this particular issue, and supported ACC activity since its inception.

Apart from tackling specific computer-assisted cheating instance, the ACC has also been aware – from the very beginning – of the possibility that players, for whatever reason, could come up with false or unsubstantiated accusations – a phenomenon that is commonly called ‘witch hunting’. It should be pointed out that witch hunting might be not less serious offence than cheating itself, and the ACC Guidelines provide for investigation and possible sanction of instances.

In the last European Women’s Individual Championship in Chavki, Georgia, we seem to have witnessed such a case of unsubstantiated accusations. A letter was sent to the organizers asking to delay the games, singling out a specific player and asking to exclude her from the online transmission - without presenting proper evidence.

The ACC wishes to reaffirm that good or even outstanding performance by a player can never in itself be the basis for an accusation or complaint, and that it has published standards and procedures that must be satisfied by properly-submitted complaints. ACC will undoubtedly investigate and, if necessary, prosecute these instances when they come under the Commission’s attention.

As regards the incident involving Ms. Mihaela Sandu, and following an official Post Tournament Complaint filed by Ms. Sandu, the ACC has decided to nominate an Investigatory Chamber to establish whether there were violations of the existing Anti-Cheating Guidelines or the Laws of Chess.

Israel Gelfer
ACC Chairman

Link to FIDE statement

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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