December 23, 2013 8:50

Ivanov Again Suspended by Bulgarian Chess Federation

Ivanov Again Suspended by Bulgarian Chess Federation

It's the time of lists, Top 10s, Top 2000s, that kind of thing. For chess it's not difficult to determine who has been competing strongly with Magnus Carlsen for the title of person of the year: Borislav Ivanov. (We'll let our readers decide who won this contest.) And he's making our news section one more time in 2013, because it has become clear that the Bulgarian Chess Federation has again banned Ivanov, this time for a period of four months.

Borislav Ivanov | Photo ©

Soon after Borislav Ivanov was banned from the Navalmoral de la Mata tournament in Spain, Yuri Garrett, Board Director of the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), wrote the following letter:

Qualification Commission, Mr. Ignatius Leong
Ethics Commission, Mr. Roberto Rivello
Anti-Cheating Commission, Mr. Israel Gelfer


Dear Mr. President,

on behalf of the ACP, I wish to bring to your attention some recent facts whereby a Bulgarian player, FM Boris Ivanov, was twice expelled from a tournament for not complying with arbiter requests. The ACP thinks it is only fair that all his games in these tournaments should be either canceled rating-wise or, better, considered as forfeited and therefore presents you with an official request to this effect.

Also, we are wondering whether immediate and urgent actions can be taken against similar cases while waiting for the new anti-cheating regulations to be developed and put into force after Tromso 2014, such as a suspension, in order to avoid further disorders in FIDE rated tournaments.

I trust you will consider this matter very attentively as it is very sensitive for all chess professionals and amateurs alike.

Kind regards,

Yuri Garrett
ACP Board Director
Member of the ACP/FIDE Anti-Cheating Committee

Last Wednesday FIDE published a reaction on its website:

FIDE is closely following the developments of the story with regards to the Bulgarian chess player Borislav Ivanov.

We are in receipt of several inquiries and proposals in respect of this issue, with ACP proposing some serious steps. (Y. Garrett letter)

ACP representatives joined FIDE in a Committee which is now preparing a whole system of measures against all kinds of cheating. The Committee will present a proposal to FIDE's Anti-Cheating Commission for the approval of the 2014 FIDE General Assembly to take immediate effect. 

FIDE is aware of the damage caused by this unfortunate incident and is seriously considering various proposals. 

However, FIDE has not received any official communication from the Bulgarian Federation in this respect and this is the second incident involving the same player from this Federation. 

Having in mind all legal aspects of any action against Mr. Ivanov, FIDE is going to bring this case before the FIDE Ethics Commission, for their follow up and decision.

However, by then it was already known that the Bulgarian Chess Federation had banned Ivanov. Two days later FIDE added to the same article:

FIDE has since received the following letter from Bulgarian chess federation:

Bulgarian chess federation would like to inform you that Borislav Ivanov has
been excluded from Bulgarian Chess Federation with decision of the Board of
Bulgarian Chess Federation on 08.12.2013.

Ivanov has been suspended for four months this time; earlier this year the Bulgarian Chess Federation banned Ivanov for three months after he failed to appear at a meeting where he would be questioned and a lie detector would be used.

The Federation gives several arguments for their decision but still, for the second time, Ivanov has been banned without clear proof of cheating existing. However, indirect evidence seems overwhelming: many of his games show a higher level than those of Magnus Carlsen, and his behaviour at events is strange too. He has refused to take off his shoes when asked, and at the recent Navalmoral de la Mata tournament 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.

Meanwhile, the Ivanov-cheating story has reached mainstream media. For example, last Thursday Bloomberg posted a lengthy article Cheating at Chess and Other Pastimes (quoting ChessVibes several times). Today The Independent published a story too.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Tarjei's picture

And there have been 3-4 recent stories in Norwegian media as well.

Santa Claus's picture

Forget about cheating alegations. I wish you everybody a Merry Christmas ! HO HO HO.

Anonymous's picture

Ivanov shouldnt be considered a pure dirty criminal cheatter,in fact he is a cheatter,and his attempts to cheat several times,originally hiding his trick in his shoes,when it became clear by Dlugy he changed the place to his back in the spanish tournament,when it became clear to one of the pllayers he changed the place under his left arm,when it became clear after the checks by the arbiter,he stoped the search and abandon the tournament,he has a profile of a 16 years old tennager self confident,that keep trying and trying ,he spend considerable time preparing the trick,developing the software,soldering,chosing the right electronic components, not an easy task for a person like him ,with limitted budget and education in software/engenier and he dedicated to much time and many hopes: that finnaly his trick will save him from poverty. Actually Ivanov was able to play active tournamnets 25minuts style,he really developed a nice trick,and later when his trick became so clear(his mistake,he was unable to carefull regulate his results in real events) he refused to accept the fact that he was burned and keep trying.The fact is that Ivanov contributed very much to chess history,showing that a boy with like him with limited budget was able to built a trick,now imagine what could do a professional software developer ,electronic engenier ?? Im sure many top GM masters already knew about it,but keep silence ,

Anonymous's picture

Wow. How do you know about all this? You have a special gift or something? You should try playing chess, you would do miracles---beware of cheating accusations though, not everyone would consider omniscience and ubiquity skills as fair.

Ron's picture

This is an underrated Sherlock Holmes case! Watch Ivanovs famous Bogomil Adonov. According to chess results:

Georgiev (GM, Bulgarien champ 2660), performance 2267
Ivanov (FM ~ 2250), performance 2495
Games: 10 Min + 5 sec. inc. How to cheat in t-shirt n jeans with Georgiev n 10 other angry players standing round your table? (pictures chessbase) NASA equipment?

Anonymous's picture

The technology Is not the new thing( a mid 90 tech transceivers modules are enough to do the job) the improvement is in software,to cheat Ivanov do not need help from another person,is a man -machine protocol)

Niko's picture

As far as person of the year goes, giving it to Boris over Magnus feels pretty shakey.

Ron's picture

Everyone should be suspicious about the results of Borislav. But ist should also be clear: Suspicions are not the basis to bann someone. A supposed glance of a wire without witnesses is not a proof. Borislav can still claim that he has not refused being checked (even taking off his shoes) many times! They ve analysed all players in the tournament played in his hometon and borislav matched 69% of houdinis moves, Dlugy 67%. This is not better than Magnus, but still hard to believe!

English Breakfast's picture

Ron - The Devil's Advocate

Ron's picture

Every lawyer is a devils advocate, even if he believes his client could be guilty! U have to show a proof to condemn someone. This standard protects the innocent from false accusations. They should have made a photo of the device or call the police!

Pal G. 's picture

It is ironic that chess players are asking for proof. The proof is in the games. Right under the nose.

From FM to Super GM in one internet download.

Magicians have many fun and interesting ways of fooling an audience, but at the end of the show everyone knows those things they saw are not possible.

Ron's picture

Devils advocate the other way round: Organizer checks Ivanov first 4 rounds n finds nothing! GMs get angry: Ivanov obviously cheats (too good?)! Throw him out or we will not come next year. Organizer goes alone in a room with Ivanov, says he saw a kind of wire, throws Ivanov out but gives him entry fee n 50 € extra. So the story of Ivanov. No one can proof whos right.

sushi_master's picture

You don’t necessarily need to catch the device or Ivanov cheating himself to convict him, sometimes some kind of “body of evidence” enough for the jury. One might render it as "method of concordant indicia" or "method of concordant pieces of evidence". The method consists of assembling, like in a jigsaw puzzle, pieces of evidence supporting a particular legal theory concerning an issue. Each piece of evidence is by itself not determinative of the issue, it only points to a rebuttable presumption, but once each piece of evidence (indicium) is assembled into a coherent body of evidence, the latter, taken as a whole, will tend to prove the issue on some standard of proof (balance of probabilities or beyond a reasonable doubt).

That being said, you still need a fair trial (e.g. Sebastien Feller’s case).

Frits Fritschy's picture

A comparison could be made with a case I read about (sorry, no source) where someone (in The Netherlands) was convicted for illegal arms possession, because he had a baseball bat in the back of his car. He was not a member of a baseball club and couldn't give names of people he played with. He had no reasonable explanation for having the bat in his possession, so the assumption that it was intended to function as a weapon was reasonable.
In Ivanov's case, there was a contraption under his clothes and he didn't want to disclose what it was or let it be investigated. Then it's reasonable to assume it was illegal in purpose.

It's not necessary to involve the police in cases like this. Compare it to an insurance case: sometimes a company thinks it reasonable to assume a claim is not to be trusted, and won't pay out. It's then up to the client to start a procedure, which he will not risk when he really did bend the rules.
Here also, Ivanov is free to start a civil case to get compensated. Somehow, I don't think he will.

Komputeroff's picture

Not surprised such Orwellian measures were taken in a country like the Netherlands.

Anonymous's picture

You are right about that. In the Netherlands we have that kind of system in law. And in familyright system they work without prove at all.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Then let me get you a clearer example: when you have a big kitchen knife in your hand in yuor own kitchen, you just run the risk of cutting yourself. If you do so in a busy square (when it's unwrapped), you won't even get the chance to say you're just want to get it sharpened, at least I hope. You will be in trouble anyway, but if for instance you can't give the address of the shop where you want to get it sharpened, you run a big chance of being put away for a long time, even in the least orwellian countries. Reasonable assumption for evil intentions can be enough, depending on the circumstances you put yourself in and the lack of explanations for this. For a judge this would be of much more importance than mere statistical evidence, in our case engine similarity.

Anonymous's picture

Nice comment....but no "evidence" of BI cheating at chess has never once been discovered.

The Real RG13's picture

The evidence WAS discovered but the discoverers weren't willing to forcefully rip the device off of his body. I suspect that if he had been in Moscow then they would have.

The Real RG13's picture

"They ve analysed all players in the tournament played in his hometown and borislav matched 69% of houdinis moves, Dlugy 67%"

So Stockfish running on weak hardware may agree with Houdini running on a computer with a Core I7 chip only slightly more than a strong GM. Still what makes the difference is that the slightest inaccuracy by the GM will be invariably be swiftly punished and then the GM can continue to make strong moves to no avail. I say this because chessbase claims that his moves actually match Stockfish on weak hardware such as a smartphone.

Septimus's picture

Ivanov should be seeded directly into the Candidates match. Sounds like a good ol' witch hunt to me. No hard evidence to support these allegations.

chesshire cat's picture

It would be an interesting legal case. I can't remember the source, sorry, but I believe once a judge dismissed sanctions as "humans often play like computers" or something like that. What would constitute legal proof for a non-chess playing judge? Doesn't matter if anyone who knows anything about chess is 100 percent certain.

chesshire cat's picture

btw regarding the judge I don't refer to this case here but another

aerodarts's picture

"The Federation gives several arguments for their decision but still, for the second time, Ivanov has been banned without clear proof of cheating existing"

I have been following this story about Ivanov the so called cheater closely. It is an important story. What if someone was leading a tournament and then someone goes, he is cheater and then is removed from the tournament. Oh wait, this has already happened! Is this not an easy way to eliminate the leader?

I do not understand why it is taking so long to get all of this straighten out. Ivanov has been accused of cheating for some time now and now I read that the Committee will present a proposal to FIDE's Anti-Cheating Commission for the approval of the 2014 FIDE General Assembly to take immediate effect.

Frits Fritschy's picture

The link in "The Federation gives several arguments for their decision" leads to a login page for Facebook. I don't want to go on Facebook. Is there another link available?

red's picture

we are closing all doors for the poor ivanov,so he will eventually transfer/rent his trick to professional players to make money.... till now we hunted an elefant in a desert(ivanov)letter we will hunt a mosquito in a jungle

Komputeroff's picture

Scary, but if a GM used the same technology, he'd be difficult to catch.

Evgeny's picture

really boring chess news! and thank you for positive chrismas news!

Igor's picture

Agree, really boring

HolgerL's picture

A conspiracy by chess media.

The Real RG13's picture

Will it also be boring if he brings his tricks to Russia?

Alcoholics anonymous's picture


Cheaters anonymous's picture

I totaly agree with you this man is nothing but innocent!

Anonymous's picture

He is a Genius He must be the new challenger of Carlsen!

Nic's picture

Welcome to the Cyborg Chess Era. Borislav Cinderella is just a primitive and grotesque version of the engine-enhanced players of the future, with chips properly planted in their brains so there's no "outside" assistance.

our conor fan's picture

surely having chips planted in your head is more grotesque?

Mariotti's picture

Found on ChessGames (on the topic on Ivanov):
...28 people on 21 december turned to Borislav happy birthday wishes on his Facebook profile.
These are wishes posted on the diary, so they are public!
Go then certainly added people who have preferred to do it without exposing, or privately.
I would say a great result.
I don't know how many more people, in fact, can boast of having received best wishes on the day of their birthday.
The result, then, is particularly significant when taking into account the fact that normally people (often even friends) you chicken out when one is in need of "legal" type.
In addition, we add that someone with a following in Bulgaria is somehow starting to approach the Ivanov case on the famous Dreyfus affair over a hundred years ago
and on an italian chess site someone has remembered the similar case of italian chessplayer Loris Cereda, banned by FSI Federazione Scacchistica Italiana, and some months later acquitted and reinstated...!topic/it.hobby.scacchi/KRYI22mNX9g

Anonymous's picture

I don't see anything in any of the letters that Mr. Ivanov was caught cheating.

Anonymous's picture

He's a fun guy. Very entertaining :)

Anonymous's picture

So with BI gone who will be the next master who beats up on a couple of no name GM's to be accused of cheating?

The Real RG13's picture

Ivanov is welcome to come to Las Vegas and get his share of the ONE MILLION DOLLAR prize fund!

LeavingLasVegas's picture

Las Vegas won't ask Ivanov politely to remove his shoes. Five security guards will take Ivanov to a sound proof, windowless room far away from anyone that might hear screams.

Psychiatrist's picture

I just wondered , Ivanov is small fry and discovered,

But I am interested in a quick straw poll whether people honestly think anyone in the top 10 might be getting Silicon help. No names of course

The Real RG13's picture

GM Dlugy actually thinks this idea is chilling because Ivanov doesn't know which moves a GM would spend more time on but a 2600 player would AND a 2600 player could avoid detection by only accepting the computers advice at certain critical points.

Anonymous's picture

But GM Dlugy is a proven nut.

The Real RG13's picture

Name ONE titled player that thinks Ivanov is legit.
Name ONE titled player that thinks Carlsen is not.

Komputeroff's picture

There's great potential that GMs may begin cheating this way. One GM has already been caught, Feller, although the method he used involved subtle signals from an accomplice present in the playing hall.

Grey's picture

In the top 10?
Maybe Naka.
All the others seem legit.

Mariotti's picture

Why Naka?

Anonymous's picture

Maybe Kramnik.
Remember Toilet gate.


Latest articles