FIDE threatens exclusion of Bulgaria

by Frederic Friedel
5/14/2015 – At the end of last year Bulgarian player Ivan Tetimov, rated 2047, won the Benidorm Open with a score of 8.0/9, gaining 78 rating points. Suspicions arose, the player did not permit a full check and was disqualified. FIDE appointed an Committee to investigate the matter, but the Bulgarian Chess Federation refused to cooperate. After the FIDE threat (update!) the BCF has now replied.

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This is the letter sent to the Bulgarian Chess Federation by the FIDE law company:

  Bulgarian Chess Federation
To the attn. of Mr Silvio Danailov, President and Mr Nikolay Velchev, Executive Director Bul. Vasil Levski 75
P.O box 927
1040 Sofia Bulgaria

By email and registered letter
Lausanne, 7 May 2015

Post Tournament Complaint against Mr. Ivan Tetimov

Dear Mr Danailov,
Dear Mr Velchev,

Our law firm acts on behalf of the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

By email dated 27 March 2015, you were informed that the FIDE Anti-Cheating Committee (ACC) received a Post Tournament complaint against Mr Ivan Tetimov and appointed an Investigatory Chamber to investigate the complaint.

You were requested to provide Mr Tetimov’s contact details so that the Investigatory Chamber could contact him. You were also offered the possibility to file comments on behalf of the Bulgarian Chess Federation.

Since you failed to answer or even to acknowledge receipt of ACC’s email dated 27 March 2015, a reminder was sent to you on 21 April 2015. As a response, Mr Danailov stated that “[uJnfortunately Bulgarian Ghess Federation have no intention to collaborate with the current FIDE management. In my personal opinion this management with the commissions appointed by them are not competent and professional enough to rule FIDE and the world of chess”.

According to Article 2.4 of FIDE Statutes, “[t]he members must acknowledge and observe the statutes, regulations, resolutions and decisions of FIDE. [...] Moreover they are obliged to support FIDE actively in all chess activities”.

The FIDE Anti-Cheating Guidelines further provide that national federations are “required to cooperate with the IC [Investigatory Chamber]” in charge of the investigation of alleged breaches of Anti-Cheating Regulations in order to facilitate the latter’s work (page 12).

Therefore, the Bulgarian Chess Federation, as a national member federation of FIDE, and you, as its President and Executive Director, have the obvious and unconditional obligation to assist the ACC and its Investigatory Chamber in its investigation against Mr Tetimov. The fact that FIDE’s management and commissions are, in Mr Danailov’s view, “not competent and professional enough” is manifestly no valid reason to refuse to cooperate to the investigation of a possible cheating case.

According to Article 2.5 of FIDE Statutes, “[m]embers notfulfilling the duties mentioned in art. 2.4 may be temporarily excluded from FIDE by a decision of the General Assembly/Executive Board/Presidential Board and permanently excluded from FIDE by a decision ofthe General Assembly”.

We hereby formally request that you comply with your obligations as a member federation of FIDE, i.e. that you provide the ACC’s Investigatory Chamber, by Monday 11 May 2015 at the latest, with the information requested in its emails dated 27 March ?015 and 21 April 2015. Furthermore, we formally request that you cooperate fully in the future with the ACC in its investigation against Mr Tetimov.

Should you continue to refuse to cooperate, FIDE will proceed in accordance with Article 2.5 of FIDE Statutes and request the exclusion of the Bulgarian Chess Federation from FIDE.

FIDE further reserves its right to take further action against Mr Danailov pursuant to the FIDE Code of Ethics with regard to his comments about FIDE’s management and Commission members.

We send a copy of this letter to the Bulgarian Minister of Youth and Sports and to the Bulgarian Olympic Committee.

Yours sincerely,

This has nothing to do with the FIDE letter, which accuses the Bulgarian Chess Federation of not cooperating with an investigation. However, it is interesting to take a look at the case that set if off. Arbiter Valerio de la Cruz eliminated Tatimov from the Benidorm event, and the Organiser of the tournament, Eftim Stefanov, is quoted as saying:

"Ivan Tetimov, is a young guy from Blagoevgrad, who plays quickly, doesn't much look at the board and looks nervous... and has a relatively low rating that's suspicious, but this is not enough in itself. The first signal I got was from Biser Georgiev, in Round 7. We were ready to search Ivan before or after the game, but we first let them play. Meanwhile, a hi-tech expert I hired came in the hall and scanned the spectrum for frequencies that could be used for transmission of signals. The playing hall was clear, no signals were detected. As the game progressed Ivan turned a pawn down, but saved the endgame and after the draw there was no point to search him. The next round he played against Mario Livaja, who at one point got very nervous because of these symptoms - i.e. the quick play, looking away from the board etc., so he said - "I'm not going to play on if you don't search him".

Although I was sure, that the boy was ok we asked him to come in one of the rooms at the back and he took off his T-shirt. I investigated him, ears, everything and there were no wires to be seen. The guy was quite ok with the inspection, which itself, is a very positive sign. So, he won his game only because Mario decided to go for a win and also Delchev devoted his last class to Tetimovs' games and it's obvious from the analyses that there were both good and bad moves according to Stockfish.'

However, later Mr. Stefanov was still very surprised to discover that a test by Kenneth Regan confirmed the case to be very suspicious. Ken Regan I understand was at pains to point out that this didn't necessarily mean anything in itself.

In El País Spanish journalist Lenotxo Garcia wrote:

Suspicions of cheating with the help of computers have caused mass psychosis and unhealthy tension in tournaments, even one with as wonderful an atmosphere as the Bali Festival of Benidorm, which closed yesterday with 850 participants from 40 countries. The referees saw suspicious signs in the behavior of Bulgarian Ivan Tetímov, 24, and asked permission to inspect his ears. Tetímov that one ear be checked, but not the other; the arbiters, according to the rules, expelled him from the tournament, where he had won the first prize. His departure has raised suspicions: indeed, almost all his moves coincide with those of our "non-human friends". But it is also true that they are very logical and within reach of a player of his level.

The Spanish chess blog Ale Xake Chess has an article entitled "Injusticia con Iván Tetimov" (we assume no translation is needed).

Ivan Tetimov, rated 2047, during the tournament in Benidorm

They report that rumours of cheating arose during the the tournament, in the hall and then on the Internet, which forced the arbiter to do a check. Apparently no device was found – although apparently Tetimov allowed only the examination of one ear. The blogger says he has examined all games by Tetimov in Benidorm and states: "There is no indication he used any program." Here is one example:

Benidorm 2014 Category A final standings

Rk. Sd. Ti. Name FED Rtng
1 60   Tetimov Ivan (disqualified) BUL 2158
2 2 FM Amdouni Zoubaier TUN 2291
3 3 FM Tejedor Fuente Enrique ESP 2288
4 29   Kultiyasov Mikhail BLR 2228
5 13 FM Sanchez Jerez Emilio Miguel ESP 2258
6 25   Jordan Martinez Miguel ESP 2236
7 17 FM Gromovs Sergejs ITA 2255
8 9   Olhovik Andrei BLR 2270
9 28 FM Serna Lara Sergio ESP 2230
10 15 FM Buenafe Moya Javier ESP 2256

Tournament site for the 2014 Gran Hotel Bali tournament in Benidorm

Quality of games by Ivan Tetimov

Game (click to view)
Georgiev, Biser (2233) - Tetimov, Ivan (2158)
Tetimov, Ivan (2158) - Daskalov, Dimitar (2260)
Dimitrov, Dejan (1970) - Tetimov, Ivan (2158)
Tetimov, Ivan (2158) - Bogdanov, Egor (2323)
Kuznetsov, Kirill (2150) - Tetimov, Ivan (2158)
Tetimov, Ivan (2158) - Ilchov, Rosen (2211)
Konstantinidis, Lazaros (1804) - Tetimov, Ivan (2158)
Tetimov, Ivan (2158) - Vujacic, Borivoje (2262)
Spassov, Liuben (2301) - Tetimov, Ivan (2158)
Tetimov, Ivan (2158) - Okov, Mario (1998)

The quality index is inspired by the work of Matej Guid and Ivan Bratko on analyzing quality of play in chess games. The method compares the moves which were played in a chess game with the ones that a strong chess engine would play. The average difference of the evaluation of the moves played with the ones suggested by the engine is used as the indicator of how "good" the game was played. A summary of the method can be found here. In case you want to do your own investigation, here are eight games played by Tetimov in Benidorm.

* * *

As stated above, all of this is not directly relevant to the FIDE complaint and threat to exclude the Bulgarian Chess Federation. That is for refusing to cooperate in an investigation and for refusing to acknowlege any jurisdiction of FIDE over the national federation – in fact denying the current leadership of FIDE the competence and professionalism to rule FIDE and the world of chess. However, with regard to non-compliance with the request to "provide Mr Tetimov’s contact details so that the Investigatory Chamber could contact him", here is some belated assistance:

All information and contacts can be found on the Chess DB web site


Very soon after the notice, given at the top of this report, had been served by FIDE counsel to Silvio Danailov and Nikolay Velchev, the following email was sent to the Anti-Cheating Committee (ACC) for FIDE. The personal details omitted contained in the email have been replaced with xxx.

To: FIDE Secretariat, Mr. Israel Gelfer (ACC Chairman), Mr. Yuri Garrett (ACC Secretary),Mrs. Delphine Rochat and Mr. Jean-Marc Reymond (FIDE Lawyers)

May 8, 2015

Dear colleagues,
Dear Mr. Delphine Rochat,
Dear Mr. Jean-Marc Reymond,

We apologize for the delay in our reply towards you request for the details of Mr. Tetimov (initially send by IA Valerio de la Cruz not FIDE or FIDE ACC commission). We would like to inform you that we have not received any reminder of this request on 27.03 and 21.04 to the official e-mail of the Bulgarian Chess Federation (xxx) nor on Mr. Velchev’s (xxx and xxx). Usually FIDE always sends all letters to these e-mails.

We would like to inform you that Bulgarian Chess Federation has strong and unconditional position against any form of cheating in chess and we are fighting against it. We managed to find contact details of Mr. Ivan Tetimov:

Home address: xxx
e-mail: xxx
Mobile: xxx

Kind regards,
Nikolay Velchev
Executive director
Bulgarian Chess federation

To this the Anti-Cheating Committee has replied:

Anti-Cheating Committee
Fédération International des Échecs
World Chess Federation
Bologna, 11 May 2015

Post-Tournament Complaint against Mr. Ivan Tetimov - Letter by FIDE counsel to Mr. Danailov and Mr. Velchev (Bulgarian Chess Federation)

This is to inform that, following the notice served by FIDE counsel to Mr. Danailov and Mr. Velchev of the Bulgarian Federation on 7 May 2015, wherein the addressees were requested to comply with their obligations as a Member Federation of FIDE by Monday 11 May 2015, the ACC has since received an e-mail communication by Mr. Velchev with the requested information.

It should be added, however, that in spite of Mr. Deventer’s official request, so far the Bulgarian Federation has not issued any comment on the incident involving Mr. Tetimov.

Finally, and contrary to what Mr. Velchev maintains in his e-mail, the ACC wishes to confirm that the requests of 27 March and 21 April were sent to and correctly received by at least one of the addressees mentioned in Mr. Delchev’s reply - i.e. the e-mail address found on the ECU site under ‘Bulgaria’.

Yuri Garrett ACC Secretary

The other Bulgarian scandal (links)

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.

Cheating scandal in Croatia – feedback and analysis
1/8/2013 – Recently we reported that the incredibly brilliant play by a 25-year-old untitled Bulgarian player at the Zadar Open in Croatia had raised suspicion that he might have been using illicit electronic assistance during his games. A number of readers criticised us – for linking to the mainstream Croatian media reports?! One of them, an expert in the field, actually analysed all the games in question.

Cheating scandal – Borislav Ivanov speaks out
1/17/2013 – Recently a 25-year-old untitled Bulgarian player scored 6.0/9 points in a strong GM tournament, with a 2697 performance. His opponents complained, he was searched, and no electronic equipment was found. Still, the case put chess on the front pages of the mainstream media, and led to intense discussions on the Internet. Now Ivanov has given the Russian news portal WhyChess an exclusive interview.

A Game of Chicken: Ivanov rides again
3/23/2013 – In the last weeks of 2012 he wowed the chess world with a 2700 performance. Two months later the new Bulgarian star FM Borislav Ivanov finished 88th in the Plovdiv, this time with a performance of 1970. Then came another enviable achievement, a clear win at the Villava rapid (again with a 2700 performance). What is going on? Alex Karaivanov speculates, with new video analysis by Valeri Lilov.

The show goes on: Ivanov in Kustendil
6/3/2013 – Borislav Ivanov is an FM who in the past months has been crushing players hundreds of points stronger than himself. Bulgarian GMs, who suspect computer cheating, are now boycotting tournaments in which he appears, or chosing not to play their games against him. Ivanov has called them antisocial buttheads in newspaper interviews. Alex Karaivanov reports, with new video analysis by Valeri Lilov.

Experts weigh in on Ivanov's performance
6/5/2013 – Two days ago we reported on the crushing victories of a Bulgarian FM against top grandmasters and the suspicion that he was secretly using computer assistance to achieve his success. Extensive analysis of the games by Valeri Lilov made this seem quite plausible. In part two of our series we present the opinions of international experts and one of the GM victims, plus initial reader feeback.

Rombaldoni: "He never calculated moves"
6/19/2013 – The very talented Italian IM Axel Rombaldoni, aiming for a final GM norm, recently travelled to Bulgaria to play in a GM tournament. First he discovered that most of the grandmasters had cancelled their participation, and then in round seven he faced the reason for the cancellation: FM Borislav Ivanov, who has been accused of computer cheating. Alex tells us what it is like to play Ivanov.

Ivanov misses BCF anti-cheating test
7/11/2013 – The Borislav Ivanov saga continues. Recently the wonder chess player agreed to take part in a test, conducted by the Bulgarian Chess Federation, to prove the authenticity of his amazing new-found chess skills. In the end Ivanov simply did not appear at the appointed time. Meanwhile a 12-year-old player, student of a famous coach, was caught cheating, and FIDE is at last stirring into action.

The shoe assistant – Ivanov forfeits at Blagoevgrad
10/3/2013 – Everyone has heard about Borislav Ivanov, a lowly FM from Bulgaria, who since late 2012 has wowed the chess world with super-GM performances. Ivanov was suspected of computer cheating, and forty GMs are boycotting tournaments in which he plays. GM Max Dlugy is not one of them, but he insisted on a thorough check of his opponent before their game. You'll never believe what happened next.

Ivanov ends his chess career
10/5/2013 – On Thursday we reported that FM Borislav Ivanov had forfeited his round seven game after he refused to take off his shoes and allow the arbiter to check for hidden devices. His opponent in that round, GM Maxim Dlugy, provided all the details. Ivanov was permitted to continue in rounds eight and nine, but now has announced that he will retire from chess, as the Bulgarian new outlet Blitz reports.

Ivanov restarts his chess career
12/9/2013 – In early October we reported that Borislav Ivanov had announced that he will retire from chess, after the Bulgarian FM had forfeited a game in the Blagoevgrad Open for refusing to allow the arbiter to check his shoes for hidden devices. Now Ivanov is back at it again: he started the Navalmoral de la Mata Open in Spain with 4.5/5 points, beating two GMs and drawing a third. But then there was, once again, a problem with his shoes.

Ivanov in Navalmoral – the real deal
12/12/2013 – On Monday we published a report on the forfeit and disqualification of Borislav Ivanov at this year's Navalmoral de la Mata Open, after the Bulgarian FM had started with a 4.5/5, beating two GMs in the process. An examination was requested by his round six opponent, and a suspicious device was detected. But Ivanov refused to allow the search to proceed and left the event voluntarily.

Topics: Cheating, FIDE, Ivanov

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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BelowZero BelowZero 5/17/2015 02:18
The way to end cheating is corporal punishment. The Klitschko brothers, both heavyweight world champions in boxing, are big lovers of the game. Anyone found cheating should be forced to step into the ring for one round with each of the brothers. Pretty soon everyone will be playing fair!
deathwombat deathwombat 5/15/2015 06:41
@thlai80: If the arbiter asked to search your ears, would you say "you can search my left but not my right", continuing to refuse even after being threatened with disqualification?
scoobeedo scoobeedo 5/15/2015 06:13
A 2200 player can improve really fast. The Quality Index shows nothing that would raise my suspicion.
His opponents was around his starting level (in Elo), but we do know what home work he have done.

My feeling tells me that the player was on a high and really improved.

FIDE should wait for other tournament results against far stronger players. Then there will come answers. In junior tournaments it happens sometimes that a junior make a big jump up.

Shortly said, he is not a cheater like FM Borislav Inanov.
firestorm firestorm 5/15/2015 09:49
The disqualification from the tournament would be justified on the gorunds he refused to co-operate fully with the investigation of possible cheating.

The reason why he refused is not given (perhaps he just refused without reason), but even if he had an ear infection, its still possible to examine the ear canal and the eardrum using an otoscope without causing discomfort- its routinely done in every doctor's surgery and hospital ENT clinic every day when a complaint of earache (or any other audiological or ENT problem). Indeed, its a clinical necessity in the case of otalgia (earache) and precursor to other tests that involve putting probes in the ear canal, or even carrying out a hearing test (checking for any obstruction).

Only allowing one ear to be examined is pretty strong circumstantial evidence you have something to hide if you can't give a plausible reason for refusing to have the other ear examined. The only thing that comes to mind would be a severe infection (otitis externa) that has reached and can be seen at the entrance of the ear canal (making otoscopic examination initially impossible anyway, unless clearance of the infection is successfully performed first).

As I've said before, otoscopy (looking down the ear canal with an otoscope) is a very simple procedure, easy to do safely, and you're going to see if there's something in the ear canal. The only thing I'd suggest be careful if you saw occluding wax on otoscopy- if its relatively shallow you can't assume its not been placed there as a barrier to conceal a small radio receiver (looking at the size of these in recent reports), though then you get into the realms of someone collecting ear wax to try to cover up cheating at chess ... the mind boggles at the thought.
Captain Slag Captain Slag 5/15/2015 01:55
With all the paranoia that now abounds over the possibility of techno-cheats, has anyone paused to ask just what happens if a complaining player actually gets it wrong? Think about it, your going to play in a tournament and have spent months preparing for it. After a good victory in the first round, you decide to have a good spicy meal and a drop of the local libation before turning in early. However things don't go well overnight with you tripping to the toilet regularly. Rather than waste all that preparation, you turn up for your next game. Your opponent trips head long into your preparation and has a losing game. However in the mean time, you are still tripping back and forth to the toilet because you are genuinely ill.
After the 1001th trip to the toilet, you come back to find your opponent has complained your a cheat. Now what? Under FIDE rules, you have to submit to the indignation of a full electronic search and possibly a full manual pat down. If you or your Federation refuses, your screwed.
The problem is now in this scenario, the seeds of doubt have been sown so now not only is one recovering from stomach-bowl complaint but your reputation has also been damaged all the while the play who complained just carries on with the weight of sympathy on his side for having played a suspected cheat.
Let me state quite categorically I appreciate and understand that cheats exist and that chess officialdom is trying its best to catch them but there has to be more than an ounce of caution involve so as not to ensnare anyone who actually might be innocent
Rama Rama 5/14/2015 10:56
No need to jump to conclusions, maybe one ear had foot odor! ;-) Seriously, I wish people would stop comparing searches to a criminal complaint. A serious sport has to have the equivalent of anti-doping controls. Even if you didn't dope you must suffer the consequences if you refuse to pee in the cup. Otherwise you might as well not have any controls at all.
Werewolf Werewolf 5/14/2015 10:30
"Please only look in my left ear. There's a transmitter in my right one"

That's basically what he said when he only allowed one ear to be searched.
KevinC KevinC 5/14/2015 10:04
@TMMM, I thought the same thing. It is not like he wiped out 6 or 7 GMs along the way.
Aighearach Aighearach 5/14/2015 08:28
Great example of the unprofessional behavior that Danialov was talking about. You don't send legal messages to whatever email address you found on a website, instead you check your appropriate records and you send it to the official address that is in your own records.

Lots of people moves fast, and lots of 2100 players don't look at the board. Lots of people have a good tournament and beat people 100 or 200 points higher. My own biggest tournament upset was over 800 points! Of course, I only went 2-2-1 in that tournament.

A 2100 player is expected to be able to play out a lot of positions without any "mistakes" according to the computer, even if the computer likes different moves. Even when I was in class C, I had a few good games (according to the computer.)
Max Marzano Max Marzano 5/14/2015 07:36
It is premature to publish accusastions that have not fully been investigated on news websites. If he is found to be innocent, his reputation is still tarnished forever because a lot of persons will not follow the news and will not know he is innocent. This is not a clear cut case like previous examples (Ivanov, the Indian player, GM Nigalize).
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 5/14/2015 05:35
If you only allow one of your ears to be examined by the tournament director, as Tetimov did, you might as well just admit you are cheating.
oputu oputu 5/14/2015 05:23
This is quite sad. So a guy is expelled from a tournament based on suspicion? Where is the justice? Now they claim he only allowed one ear to be searched? Anybody can tell that part of the story was just added to make him look guilty! So when Anand 2800 displays a performance rating of 2950, we say he is cheating cos of that?

Yesterday I watched a 1500 player dismantle a 2100 player (both friends of mine) in an opening the stronger player didntt understand. It happens!! Not to talk of someone 100 points away from you by elo.

Maybe we should check Carlsen too, his move choices with engine recommendations are tooooo close!
hpaul hpaul 5/14/2015 04:34
Any list of Bulgarian chess scandals is incomplete without mention of the behavior of Silvio Danailov, manager of Veselin Topalov in the 2006 world championship match Kramnik-Topalov. With his man trailing 3-1 after 4 games, Danailov thought of the desperate tactic of accusing Kramnik of cheating, with no evidence for this whatever. The tactic threw Kramnik off his stride, and almost worked. Danailov further advised his charges Topalov and Cheparinov to refuse to shake hands with Kramnik and with some who supported Kramnik, notably Nigel Short, in violation of FIDE rules. The smell of scandal has followed this Bulgarian self-promoter, which didn't prevent him from later being elected president of the European Chess Union.
TMMM TMMM 5/14/2015 03:18
So a 2158-player finishes first, ahead of players rated no more than 130 points above him, and he must have been cheating? I'm not saying he did not cheat, but it's not that unlikely that he just had a good week. To compare: this Ivanov finished between players rated 300-400 higher than him, beating players rated 400 points higher than him with his cheating. Some people these days just use the opponent's alleged cheating as an excuse for their own failure.
KevinC KevinC 5/14/2015 02:53
I think a way to prove it if you DIDN'T cheat is to take one game in question, and sit down with a couple of strong players, and go through the game, and explain your thinking process. Why you moved here or there, and some analysis of lines you saw.
thlai80 thlai80 5/14/2015 11:40
Is it necessary? The guy was rated 2100+ and won a tournament with guys at mixture of 2200+ ratings. Not too difficult, I've seen these cases in local circuits almost every week. I'm not even rated because I don't play often and not a lot of tournaments are FIDE rated, but I had beaten 2300+ and 2400+ players before.

Some losers need to learn to lose, not be a foul loser who creates uproar just because his/her rating is superior. If that's the case, no one, absolutely no one can beat Carlsen, or he can claim cheating by his opponent.
ashperov ashperov 5/14/2015 10:17
If I do well in a tournament (I have not played in a while but ive been training a lot non stop)... and suspicions arise---
Am I allowed___ to request a woman that's sort of pretty to strip search me?? that is my only condition.
I must just be sure to wear appeasing underwear... or go free willy in jeans.
If I am a strategist I have to plan these things for when they arise.

Real cheating scandals however- are disgusting and I hope they route it out. Metal detectors seem to be the best options. Not even allowing anything on your person (which they do in open tournaments). this has to become standard practice- go through detectors - bathroom for players and not public- you have to isolate the players until their games are done. I don't know all the details--- however this is the only way. If this is not the model to base it on- then this is the start of such model.