May 05, 2014 13:14

Bindrich Sues German Chess Federation For € 68,000

Falko Bindrich, a 23-year-old grandmaster from Germany, has sued the German Chess Federation for an amount of € 68,000 ($94,336). This was mentioned in a monthly PDF magazine of the federation and picked up by the chess website Schach Welt. Bindrich was suspected of cheating in October 2012, but later his two-year ban from play was cancelled.

Falko Bindrich | Photo courtesy of the Schachbundesliga

In October 2012 Falko Bindrich, who had just turned 22 at the time, was suspected of cheating during the first Bundesliga weekend of the season. When he visited the toilet during his game on Sunday, the arbiter asked him whether he had his smartphone with him. Mr Bindrich answered positively, but refused to show his phone whereupon the arbiter decided to declare the game lost for him, based on a new regulation:

“(...) During their game the players may not have or gain access to mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices without the arbiter's permission. In case of clear suspected use of tools mentioned above, upon request of the arbiter the players are obliged to hand over these devices for inspection. In case of clear suspected use of tools mentioned above, upon request of the arbiter the players are obliged to have their clothes, bags or other pieces of luggage inspected. When a player breaches these obligations, the arbiter may take measures in accordance with Clause. 8.1 of the tournament rules.”

A few days later, in a five-page document, Mr Bindrich rejected the suspicion of fraud. He claimed not to be using the toilet more often than is normal, and he explained his decision to not show his phone by saying:

“First and foremost, I see it as a direct invasion of my privacy. I cannot just allow anyone access to my phone. It contains my private data (very private images and messages) and sensitive business data. I should protect this.”

Mr Bindrich also wondered why he “needed to prove that he's innocent”, and also rejected the arbiter's request because he “did not know who accused him of cheating.”

In January 2013 the German Chess Federation banned Mr Bindrich from play for two years. Like in other sports, where an athlete is considered guilty when not participating in a doping test, the chess player was punished for not cooperating.

However, in May 2013 the arbitration court of the Federation cancelled the ban, stating it was issued without legal basis.

Now, almost a year later, the story continues. Mr Bindrich has decided to sue the German Chess Federation for an amount of € 68,000 ($94,336). This was mentioned in a monthly PDF magazine of the federation (in PDF here) and picked up by the chess website Schach Welt.

Olaf Steffens, the author of the Schach Welt article, rightly notes that the amount € 68,000 seems rather high, taking into account the average income of an average grandmaster over a period of four months. No doubt Mr Bindrich is also claiming a damage of reputation.

The chess world has seen several incidents of (suspected) cheating in recent years. In July 2012 Sebastien Feller, Arnaud Hauchard and Cyril Marzolo were suspended by the French Chess Fededation for cheating at the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk in September 2010. The decision was later confirmed by the FIDE Ethics Commission.

In December 2013 Borislav Ivanov was suspended for the second time by the Bulgarian Chess Federation. Although there was no clear proof of cheating, the indirect evidence seemed overwhelming: many of his games showed a very high of play, he refused to take off his shoes when asked, and at a recent tournament in Spain the organizers found a device with wires on his back, but Ivanov refused to show it and instead left the tournament even though he was topping the standings at that point.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


lmanu62's picture

cheaters have plumb, that is why they are recognized.

Anonymous's picture

If you don't like the rules you shouldnt play. This guy has no chance.

Anonymous's picture

"If you don't like the rules you shouldnt play."

"If you don't like the fact that you can be accused of cheating and be forced to prove your innocence, you shouldn't play"

I know most ChessVibes commentators are idiots, but you take the cake.

Rusty's picture

If it looks like a crook, plays like a crook, and quacks like a crook, then it probably is a big fat crook.

Frits Fritschy's picture

You bring a device with you with which it is possible to cheat. The rules state that in that case, you might have to prove your innocence. What's idiotic about that? Eat your own cake.

jimknopf's picture

Well said!

Anonymous's picture

Take this cheaters out! They ruin our beatiful sport.
If you refuse to show your mobile phone it is clear enough. Your are not even allowd to have Mobile phones with you and the must be at lest turnd off.
By the new rules you may not have them in the playing hall. End of story. Refuse of showing your phone must be a zero points. Simple rule that take them out.

Talekhine's picture

It was zero points.

Unanimous's picture

Cool name - Falko Bindrich.

Anonymous's picture

"...“First and foremost, I see it as a direct invasion of my privacy. I cannot just allow anyone access to my phone. It contains my private data (very private images and messages) and sensitive business data. I should protect this....". I agree, but the rule should simple be that players are to have no access to any electronic device while engaged in a tournament game. It's quite easy to leave one's phone in the car or room, isn't it?

RG13's picture

Yes, but it is possible for someone to choose to deliberately risk forfeit because they want to keep their phone on their person at all times.

The arbiter did the right thing absolutely. His suit however was for the 2 year ban which costs him earnings before it was overturned.

Anonymous's picture

He can only earn with cheating. So without cheating no earning.

Alcoholics anonymous's picture

"I agree, but the rule should simple be that players are to have no access to any electronic device while engaged in a tournament game."

FIDE plans to introduce such a rule into practice soon.

Anonymous's picture

Players must all be obligated to leave there mobiles at home or in there car. If they refuse to show there phones if they are suspected there are out. Simple and clear. No problems anymore. Solving problems needs clear and strict solutions.

Anonymous's picture

Great if FIDE would only rule that repeating a position three times results in a loss. This would greatly eliminate the problem of uncompetitive draws.

Frits Fritschy's picture

What was the reasoning of the arbitration court to rule there was no legal basis? It might have something to do with the a bit ambiguous formulation "In case of clear suspected use". What is 'a clear suspicion', who is defining this? It's not just enough to have a suspicion (something anyone can have about anything connected to anyone - that would really be 'a lack of legal basis'), it should also be 'clear'.
Was there anything more, apart from Bindrich having a phone with him and going to the toilet? 'Clear' can be anything, depending on the angle from which you look at it. But of course judges are used to consider cases on arguments like 'normal use' or 'generally accepted'.
The rules would have been perfectly clear (and in my view, acceptable) leaving the suspicion bit out. "If you have a mobile phone with you, you run the risk being checked; if you refuse being checked, you will be considered to have broken the rules."
Apart from that, why did Bindrich need to raise hell by (a) bringing a phone with him when he knows as a professional (is he? was he?) how sensitive things lie with them (which has also been made clear by the rules); (b) not let it be checked by someone who will probably not see and will not likely be interested in anything personal?
A judge will probably rule that Bindrich is at least as much responsible for possible damage to his reputation as the German federation.

Thomas Richter's picture

The point wasn't whether the suspicion was clear enough or not, but another loophole: The German Bundesliga isn't under the auspices of the German federation, but formally independent (organized by the clubs themselves). Hence, the German federation couldn't impose sanctions on Bindrich, only the Schachbundesliga e.V. (eingetragener Verein) can ban him for, but only for league games [actually not foreseen in the regulations]. According to German federation president Herbert Bastian - who "accepts but regrets the court decision" - Bindrich benefited from a hitherto undiscovered hole in the regulations. [links at the end broken, probably since the German federation pages underwent a major reorganisation a few months ago]

Also @ Bartleby below: This hole has now been closed, all players from the Bundesliga (and also the second league) have to sign a document ("Unterwerfungserklärung") making them susceptible to sanctions by the federation.

Frits Fritschy's picture

And did the Schachbundesliga ban Bindrich? That's quite important, because If he wants to sue the German federation for reputation damage, he must make it likely there was a reputation to be damaged.

Thomas Richter's picture

As I mentioned in [brackets], regulations of the Schachbundesliga don't include the possibility to ban a player; forfeiting a game - something Bindrich accepted - is the maximum fine. The Schachbundesliga then formally informed the federation and asked for Bindrich to be banned - the federation and the German (at least the German) chess world knew anyway via the media, but this procedure included an official report by the arbiter.

One aspect discussed in the comments at Schach-Welt, generally more informed and partly more emotional than this thread, is whether the reputation damage came from the decision of the federation, or already from the incident itself. Another aspect might be how serious financial losses were: in Germany, Bindrich could only find a new club in the third league (probably paying less), but he was/is still welcome to play in the Swiss, Austrian and Czech leagues. Something I mentioned: in his defense Bindrich said that there was no reason to cheat because he is no longer a professional player, now he claims financial losses that seem pretty high for a player of his level (approaching Elo 2600). How the sum is calculated and justified is unclear to the general public, as the corresponding legal document isn't publicly available.


Frits Fritschy's picture

The part "the Schachbundesliga e.V. can ban him for, but only for league games [actually not foreseen in the regulations]" wasn't entirely clear to me. "They can ban him, but they can't"? Well, never mind.
What remains is: his game was forfeited. Do the regulations of the Schachbundesliga and/or the German federation give the possibility to fight this decision, did Bindrich do this, and if so, what was the result?
I tried to read the comments at Schach-Welt, but the subtleties of the German (legal) language are a bit too much for me, I'm afraid.

Suppose you have been convicted of a crime and for this reason, the major of a town forbids you to take up residence in that town. A judge can consider this reaction to be without a base in law. In that case, you might get compensation for the direct consequences of the major's decision (hotel costs, for instance). But if you didn't first successfuly fight the initial conviction, the judge in the later case will probably say you are yourself responsible for reputation damage.

By the way, as I wrote earlier, I think it's quite possible Bindrich didn't cheat at all. Claims like this are a further indication for me the problems with Bindrich might be on a different level.

Thomas Richter's picture

Yeah, that part of my post (written relatively late in the evening) was confusing - what I meant is: the Schachbundesliga e.V. could in principle ban him for league games (only), but this isn't part of the regulations. To the extent that comparisons with other sports make sense: The German, or any other football Bundesliga can ban players for this league, but not for other competitions e.g. Champions' League.The difference is that football players are regularly banned for comparatively minor offenses: I guess about every tenth player on average gets a red card at least once per season.

I didn't check the regulations on whether Bindrich could have appealed to the arbiter's decision about forfeiting the game - it seems that he didn't but thought this would be the only punishment he faces.

You may well be right that "problems with Bindrich might be on a different level" - but this can't be an excuse and can't play a role in how to handle the situation (not that you say so).

Bartleby's picture

I think the rules could have stated more clearly that by participating he has obliged to cooperate with any investigation (analogous to the legal basis for doping controls), and that a 2 year ban is the usual measurement for non-cooperation for a first-time offender (analogous to non-cooperation with doping tests). Now let's see how this turns out. He may claim innocence to a fraud charge but he is guilty of non-cooperation.

Anonymous's picture

Non-cooperation must be equal to guilty of fraud.
Then it is easy. And the Arbiter may always check if he feels it is nessecairy.
The Arbiter decides just as with soccer. Easy.
Do you cooperate and the Arbiter find on you moblile no computer he can collect it and return it after the game. Also examen it is exelent.
And if you not cooperate then you are guilty of fraud. So can it be more clear?
This they must put in the rules and end of story.
Leave the mobiles at home is the best.

Anonymous's picture
RS's picture

I hear that Borislav Ivanov is planning to sue the Bulgarian Chess Federation and FIDE for a sum of Euro 1,000,000. Out of this the damages for prize money is Euro 10,000 and the rest for damaging his reputation.

RS's picture

i noticed something in the comments in this thread.No Anonymous at all.Unbelieveable

RG13's picture

Please use the Permalink to reference the exact comment/s that you are referring to.

BobbyFischer's picture

Real cheaters like Kasparov and Karpov with their
pre-arranged games were never caught!

RS's picture

Fischer made all these baseless allegations against Kasparov and Karpov to claim that he is still the World Champ. The world dismissed these for good and such allegations are best forgotten.

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