December 11, 2013 13:00

Official statement on the Ivanov story

The organizers of the Navalmoral de la Mata tournament have issued a statement on what exactly happened with Borislav Ivanov, a story reported on earlier this week. Because it answers several of the questions that were raised, we deem it prudent to give the statement below in full:

C/ Calvo Sotelo, 53
10300 Navalmoral de la Mata (Cáceres)


In view of the impact that the presence of the player Borislav Ivanov in recent XIX


CENTRAL NUCLEAR DE ALMARAZ, and due to the information published, which has sometimes been inaccurate, we issue this press release to try to cast light on this episode. This is no judgement of value. We'll just stick to a faithful narration of what happened and the insight of some people involved. Let everyone draw their own conclusions.”

1. The full participant list, including Mr. Borislav Ivanov, was published before the start of the tournament. The organizers did not receive any official statement against his taking part in the event.

2. The first day of the tournament some players, especially Grand Masters, verbally stated their disagreement with Borislav Ivanov's presence. They were advised to file a written complaint, but none of them did.

3. Once the tournament started, in view that other players were becoming more and more suspicious and in order to clear any existing doubts, the organizers proceeded to examine Borislav Ivanov's shoes at the end of round 4 and before he could leave the playing hall. It was widely remarked that a hidden device could be placed inside his footwear.

4. Player Borislav Ivanov willingly consented, so he was escorted to a private area in the hotel and, in front of two members of the organizing team, he was requested to take off his shoes, which he did. His footwear was thoroughly examined and nothing out of the ordinary was detected. He was examined as well, using a mobile app for metal detecting. We don't know exactly how reliable and accurate that app is, but nothing was found that could imply the existence of a hidden device inside his footwear.

5. Once this inspection finished, Borislav Ivanov motioned to take off his pants as well, as he asked the organizers if he should go on stripping. Since all complaints had focused only on his shoes, organizers decided not to go further.

6. During round 5, one of the participants in the tournament, Mr. Andrés

Holgado Maestre, noticed a suspicious bump on Mr. Ivanov's back (the Bulgarian played with his coat and scarf on, though the heating was working in the playing hall). This suspicious bump was noticed by other participants as well, and was reported to the chief arbiter. He deemed it untimely to interrupt the game in that moment. After the game, in a very tense atmosphere, Mr

Andrés Holgado Maestre suddenly took a hold of the bump on Mr Ivanov's back through his clothes, and pulling, asked him (in Spanish) what was hidden on his back. Mr. Ivanov gave some answer in Bulgarian. Then Mr. Holgado accused Mr Ivanov of cheating (in English) and requested help from other participants watching the scene, to find out what Mr. Ivanov was hiding. No-one helped him though, so he let Mr. Ivanov go and the Bulgarian player promptly left the playing hall.

7. Mr Holgado states he could touch an oblong object, similar to an mp3 player, attached to Mr. Ivanov's body.

8. The following day, moments before the start of round 6, it was Mr. Ivanov's opponent Mr. Namig Guliyev who verbally requested to the arbiter and the tournament director a new examination to Mr. Ivanov.

9. Mr. Ivanov was asked if he was willing to undergo a new search, and he agreed, while he remarked it was odd to do it before the round and not after it. In contrast with the previous search, this time Mr. Ivanov was visibly nervous, according to one of the organizers.

10. The search was carried out in the same place as before. Mr. Ivanov stated he wouldn't strip and his opponent Mr. Guliyev, who was there as well, stated there was no need for a full striptease, just to show he had nothing to hide. Then, Mr. Guliyev emptied his own pockets and felt his own body showing there was nothing odd, and he even lifted the tight sweater he was wearing, allowing his shirt to be seen. Mr. Ivanov consented to take off only his coat and his scarf. Then Mr. Guliyev was requested to leave the room and just two members of the organizing team stayed with Mr. Ivanov.

11. Mr. Ivanov took off his coat and scarf and then a more thorough examination (frisking) was suggested. He willingly consented. In order to safeguard Mr. Ivanov's privacy, the tournament director Mr. Juan Antonio Sánchez

Bermejo (a retired policemen with a long experience) stayed alone with Mr. Ivanov and frisked him.

12. He started with the hair, neck and shoulders. When he felt his chest, though, Mr. Ivanov dodged back. However, before Mr. Ivanov avoided contact, Mr. Bermejo could feel something odd near his left armpit, but couldn't say exactly what. Perhaps because of Mr. Ivanov's rushed movement unfastened one of his shirt's buttons, and a kind of strap could be seen crossing his chest from side to side. When asked what was under his shirt, Mr. Ivanov insisted he had nothing. Then Mr. Ivanov refused to go on and he was warned that in that case he could be expelled from the tournament. However, that was unnecessary because Mr. Ivanov stated he would willingly leave, but he requested the entry fee was refunded, as he didn't have enough money to leave.

13. In view that Mr. Ivanov was in dire straits, Mr. Bermejo decided, on a personal basis, to give Mr. Ivanov 50 € from his own pocket, as an act of kindness, not as a compensation of any kind.

14. The tournament organizers believe to have respected at all times current Spanish laws, since all searches were carried out with the prior permission of Mr. Ivanov.

Navalmoral de la Mata, 11 December 2013

Translation into English thanks to Patricia Llaneza.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


arkan's picture

So why wasn't the police called? I still dont understand that. In casino's they do that ALL THE TIME with suspected cheaters

Jogarto's picture

In different countries there are different laws. Laws are not the same and sometimes are a shame.

Borislav Ivanov's picture

I really believe in the innocence of Mr. Ivanov. I do not know why all this witch hunting.The fact is that the guy is a talented Young player that deserves some respect. YOU ARE TOO MANY COWARDS. Goddammit!

Anonymous's picture

I agree.

JAmes's picture

You are really stupid.

Ron's picture

This is really sad! Is this right? Only the tournament director had a glance at the strip! And then the director returned Ivanov the money n gave him 50 extra n didnt call the police? So its statement against statement: Ivanov against the director. And the director has no proof! What now, Ivanov is saying that this guys have paranoia n they want to ruin his repudiation, because they dont want to have him in chess circuit n present themselves as heroes.
If u fight against cheating in chess u cannot act like that, regardless that there r suspicions n Ivanov is not a humble guy.

Roberto's picture

¿Quieres que la policia detenga a alguien por estar sentado delante de una mesa jugando al ajedrez?¿O por ganar a jugadores mucho más fuertes que él? La estadística demuestra por sí misma que Ivanov es un tramposo, cualquier pesona que le observe no verá que cometa aparentemente ningún delito.Los tramposos se aprovechan de todas las leyes que les favorecen y de todo el que pueden para estafar...

Borislav Ivanov's picture

Lo dices tu porque tu eres un traposo.Roberto tiene el hoyo vuelto ja ja ja .

PILATE's picture


Erich's picture

That is enough evidence for me.

Anonymous's picture

I dont undersdtand I didnt they pull out his shirt and took the device. And take pictures of it. Allowd or not. How Ivanov will prove this he? And nobody care if the device is found on his body he is a cheater after all. With me he would not have slipped away.

Anonymous's picture

Didn't Ivanov agree to more than one search?

Roberto's picture

En España sólo pueden registrar a los detenidos la Policia...y sólo cuando haya un motivo para ello.La policia no puede cachear o detener a alguien por, aparentemente, jugar al ajedrez en un torneo; por ello, al señor Ivanov se le pidió su autorización para ser registrado...y cuando le encontraron algo atado con una cinta a la altura del pecho y el señor Ivanov se negó a seguir siendo registrado, hubo que parar el registro.El problema es que no está reglamentado en la FIDE como actuar en tales casos.¿Quien debería registrar al sospechoso?¿La Policia?¿El organizador del torneo?¿El arbitro? ¿Cuan minucioso ha de ser el registro?EL organizador del torneo se enfrentó a la terrible experiencia de enfrentarse a un supuesto tramposo sin más criterio que el suyo. ¿Porqué la FIDE no define que se debe hacer?¿Como es posible que la Federación Bulgara expulsara al señor Ivanov durante 4 meses y sin embargo la FIDE no le expulsara durante ese mismo tiempo? ¿Porqué ninguno de los grandmaster FIDE que se quejaron de que se hubiera admitido al torneo al señor Ivanov presentó una reclamación por escrito ? ¿POrqué cuando el jugador FIDE D. Andrés HOlgado Maestre le agarró el bulto que le sobresalía de la espalda y le llamó tramposo ninguno de los grandmaster FIDE o International Master FIDE se acercó al señor Ivanov para exigirle que mostrara el aparato electrónico que llevaba?

Frits Fritschy's picture

Because this is an eye witness, I have tried to make a readable translation. I hardly know any Spanish (I used Google Translate), so any improvements are welcome.
Between [brackets] are my interpretations and comments.

"In Spain, only the police is allowed to search someone, and only if they have a [legal] reason to do so. The police can't frisk or arrest someone for, apparently, playing chess in a tournament. [Probably meaning they should be able to see whether a crime is committed before taking action; and that they can't take action on what is a matter for civilian courts.] That's why Mr. Ivanov was asked for permission to be searched. When I found something tied with a ribbon to his chest, he refused further investigation, so I had to stop the search.
The problem is FIDE has no regulations how to act in cases like this. Who should search a suspect? The police? The tournament organizer? The arbiter? How thorough can the search be? The tournament organizer was confronted with the terrible experience of a troublesome itinerary with only himself as a guide.
Why hasn't FIDE defined what should happen [in cases like this]? How is it possible that the Bulgarian Federation has banned Mr. Ivanov for four months and the FIDE didn't expulse him in this time? [Or at least has taken a point of view in this matter, I would say.] Why didn't any of the FIDE GM's complaining that he had been admitted, was willing to do that in writing? Why, when the FIDE player D. Andres Holgado Maestre grabbed the lump on his back and called him an imposter, didn't any of the FIDE GM's or IM's approach Mr. Ivanov to demand to show the electronic device he was wearing?"

brabo's picture

Why are only the grandmasters in this tournament targeted? Is it because they are losing money that it is up to them to proof that he cheated? Nonsense as there is much more on stake than just money.
If an organization knows in advance that there will likely be troubles by permitting a player to participate then this organization doesn't have to complain afterwards about how others should act.
Ignoring the warnings because you didn't get a written complaint , doesn't mean that you are officially not aware about the potential problems ahead.

Frits Fritschy's picture

In practice, probably many organisers refuse players admission to their tournaments, and apart from the sad case of Mr. Gurevich in Greece, I don't know of any examples that have come into the open, let alone have been punished.
But purely legally it's a different thing, I quote:
[FIDE Handbook, A01 - Status, principles and aims of FIDE, point 1.2] "[...] It observes strict neutrality in the internal affairs of the national chess federations." (So without FIDE taking over the sanctions, what the Bulgarian federation had decided would have no consequences for a tournament in Spain.)
[FIDE Handbook, F.1 Boycotts, Moral principles of FIDE for non-FIDE chess competitions, point 2] "In accord with its Statutes, FIDE reaffirms its commitment to the right to play chess and opposes all organized actions that would hinder that right."
So in theory FIDE could be forced to withdraw the official recognition of a tournament where a player is refused without any legal basis.
I don't see Ivanov taking this to CAS, but with the right personality disorder (see one of my other comments), he might just do that.

Thomas Richter's picture

I am not aware of Gurevich having problems; do you mean Atalik's problems with the Turkish federation and (some) Greek organizers accepting the Turkish request that he should be banned everywhere? Atalik could take his case to CAS - as a professional, he depends on income (prize money) from open tournaments?

That's the reason why FIDE shouldn't automatically endorse decisions by national federations, be it the Turkish one against Atalik or the Bulgarian one against Ivanov or the French one against Feller - but either carry out their own investigation (or independently assess evidence of the national federation or decide that there's nothing to investigate. Same story for the United Nations who do not endorse court decisions in individual member states which have different laws as well as different standards of jurisdiction and fair trial.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Of course I meant Atalik, thanks.
Yes, I think the articles I mentioned can be used eventually to bring a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Geneva. Of course, to have any chance, you will have to follow a long road: probably first go through procedures within the country from the tournament where you were banned, if that has no success through procedures within FIDE and only if you aren't treated right there, you can bring it to CAS. Not everybody's cup of tea.
In Atalik's case, his trade union (the ACP) could be expected to do the work. If everybody is sensible, they would negotiate something behind the screens. In Ivanov's case, I'm not quite sure if the ACP is willing to fight his case. Did he pay his membership fee? But if he has enough time, he is free to go all the way by himself.

Thomas Richter's picture

"In Ivanov's case, I'm not quite sure if the ACP is willing to fight his case."

Are you serious, ironic or joking? First, Ivanov - as an amateur - isn't a member of the Association of Chess Professionals (three Russian Ivanovs are, GMs Mikhail and Sergey and International Arbiter Viacheslav). BTW Atalik also is no ACP member (the homepage has a list of all 994 members). Ironically, Mamedyarov and Kurnosov (still listed though dead) both are/were ACP members.

Second and more importantly: ACP president Sutovsky has 'strong opinions' about cheating - which I know and respect even if I don't agree in every single detail. ACP Board Director Yuri Garrett went farther, openly applauding a lifetime ban against an Italian amateur (later lifted) though he may not have gotten a fair trial.

If any lingering doubts remained:


Frits Fritschy's picture

Of course I was joking, but I hate emoticons.

Roberto's picture

¿Puedes tú en tu pais desnudar a quien quieras para comprobar lo que lleva debajo de su ropa? Porque en mi pais, España, eso sólo puede hacerlo la Policia...y sólo cuando haya alguna causa justificada¡ La policia no puede desnudar y registrar a todas las personas que quiera! Yo estuve en el torneo yu puedo asegurar que se consultó con la Policía, pero la Policía no podía hacer nada contra un hombre sentado en una silla jugando una partida de ajedrez.El organizador del torneo pidió al señor Ivanov si le permitía registrarlo ( le pidió permiso para ello), y al concederselo el señor Ivanov procedió a registrarle: a la altira del pecho, cerca de la axila,se encontró un objeto, y el señor Ivanov echó el cuerpo hacía atrás, viéndose que llevaba algo atado con una conta alrededdor del pecho, y el señor Ivanovse negó a seguir siendo registrado.Durante los registros sólo estaba en la sala el señor Ivanov y el organizador del torneo, y no había otras personas ni cámaras para respetar su intimidad.NO entiendo como a este jugador no le expulsa la FIDE cuando ya le ha expulsado la FEderación BUlgara durante 4 meses...para mí, que estaba en el Torneo, es un claro tramposo.

Borislav Ivanov's picture

Vosotros andais agarrando bultos ocultos en los pantalones, y si no lo hay lo inventais con tal de seguir agarrando bultos.Brislav Ivanov es inocente como una blanca paloma.

Borislav Ivanov's picture

Tu crees que el jorobado de Notre Dame podria jugar sin sospechas? todos tratarian de manocearle el bulto en la espalda .La moraleja de esto es que las cosas no son como parecen y que Ivanov es tan inocente como un un bebe durmiendo.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I will just translate now what is really new here.

"[...] I was at the tournament and I can assure you the police was consulted, but the police couldn't do something about a man sitting there, playing a game of chess. [...] During the search, only Mr. Ivanov and the tournament organizer were in the room; there were no other people or cameras in the room to respect his privacy. [...]"

Anonymous's picture

According to press rules it is the right of BI to publish his version

Jorge's picture

Peter was asking him questions some days ago... but BI stopped answering, do you remember?

Chris's picture

Interview is not an answering publication, is not it?

The Real Eadon's picture

Now we will see the extent of tournament organizer stupidity, if he is allowed to play in another FIDE event again.
And I hope this puts to rest the argument by the naive and foolish that without a smoking gun, we have no evidence that a man playing statistically well beyond his previously measured ability (rating) is cheating, so we should just pretend nothing is going on. Kudos to Maestre!

Anonymous's picture

"a man playing statistically well beyond his previously measured ability (rating) is cheating"

Good idea, we can call a cheater anybody that dares making progress. Power to the mediocres!

Toonces the Driving Cat's picture

I suppose it is too much to expect chess players to have a basic grasp of statistics. But there's a difference between an 1800 having a 2100 tournament performance, and a 2200 having a 2700+ tournament performance on multiple occasions. So much so, that it beggars belief to maintain the latter case is just natural progress, especially with all the circumstantial evidence that surrounds him.

Thomas Richter's picture

I see your point, but - at least in the sense of "general lessons to be learnt from the Ivanov case": How much overperformance is possible rather than suspicious? A 2400 having a 2700+ performance, a 2200 having a 2500+ performance, .... ? From a statistical point of view, there are error bars or uncertainties both on one's own rating, and on the rating of his/her opponents. And there may be genuine improvement, BTW at any age - not just for teenagers while it's deemed suspicious at the age of 20-something.

"Circumstantial evidence" refers to, among other things, agreement with engine moves. Same question: From what level upwards is it praiseworthy if Houdini largely endorses a player's moves, and from what level downwards is it suspicious to impossible?

Jorge's picture

Mr. Richter, Are you still accusing of being jealous to the players that say that Ivanov is a cheater?

As you said almost a year ago:
" could it be that you are simply jealous that Ivanov has achieved something that you never managed to do?"

Thomas Richter's picture

I have nothing to rectify: I never said that Ivanov is definitely innocent, what I did say is that he is "innocent unless/until proven guilty". The same will apply to similar cases in the future.

Those who 'always knew' that Ivanov is a cheater turned out to be right in this case (only legal aspects remain?). they can be either right or wrong in future cases. In a way, their task was easy - they could always say that he will eventually be caught, sooner or later. He could never prove his innocence, nor does he (or anyone else) have to - that's against common legal standards, at least in democratic countries.

Anonymous's picture

it's only a mirror effect ! As a matter of fact, Richter is jealous of Magnus Carlsen. Mirror effect ! That's all there is

Jorge's picture

Mr. Richter,

Are you still defending your own previous opinion:

"These results aren't "suspicious" as only wins against GMs seem suspicious and the other events probably didn't have live transmission, but they do indicate that he is in great form. Maybe "something" prevented him from playing his best chess until recently - could be anything: too busy with his studies (he was a student until recently), love or even alcohol problems, ... ."

Do you think that Ivanov is in great form?

Thomas Richter's picture

An analogy to another sports, my other hobby running: The place where I live is a common training location for German and Dutch runners - of all levels, up to the highest ones: world championships and Olympic Games, as well as rising stars aiming to reach such a level in a couple of years. They use the facilities of our amateur club, which I coordinate - so I know some of them (mostly the coaches) personally.

Doping is a problem, it would be naive to put my hand into the fire or bet lots of money on the fact that all of them (hundreds each year around Easter) are clean. Nor do I think that any of them are using doping.

One of my running friends, a German subtop runner, was shocked that a regular competitor (maybe also a training partner, don't know for sure) was caught for doping, calling her "incredibly stupid". She was shocked that it happened (by the other person's own fault) to someone whom she knew and maybe liked or respected - but not really surprised that such things happen.

anonymous's picture

Your initial assertions are quite true: he is not a cheater, he was in love and now that he broke up with her he is realizing his true Carlsen-like strength. The bump under his clothing was a box of chocolates he snatched back from her in a fit of rage and was planning to munch later.
Either this, or you have a penchant for being contentious just for the sake of it, given the overwhelming evidence against this man. After all, you don't apply the cast-iron "innocent" rule as concerns e.g. "rumours" re Carlsen bumping people off tournament invitation lists - you put forward "provocative" theories with zero evidence.
This being of course impossible as you are objective, theory no. 1 wins.

Thomas Richter's picture

You refer to evidence that is available now, but wasn't available when he played the Zadar Open one year ago. All we knew is that he beat GMs - mostly older ones past their prime, mostly playing poorly by GM standards.

As to the other case, some facts are simple and undeniable: The list of Biel participants, complete and confirmed, included Dominguez and didn't include Carlsen. Then suddenly Carlsen was there and Dominguez was gone. How this happened is still unclear. Whether this was 'right' and "good news for the chess world", here opinions diverge.

Anonymous's picture

"After all, you don't apply the cast-iron "innocent" rule as concerns e.g. "rumours" re Carlsen bumping people off tournament invitation lists - you put forward "provocative" theories with zero evidence"

Well, what do you expect from someone like him?

Anonymous's picture

"they do indicate that he is in great form. Maybe "something" prevented him from playing his best chess until recently - could be anything: too busy with his studies (he was a student until recently), love or even alcohol problems"

I doubt anyone is surprised by that level of analysis from T.O.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I would like to check anything you have written here, but you have made that impossible. Did you use any other nick names instead of Anonymous? Can you point out which anonymous comments were yours?

Thomas Richter's picture

Frits - in case you didn't realize - (this) Anonymous refers to comments I left about a year ago, in the very first thread on Ivanov after the Zadar Open. Repeating myself: based on information available at the time.

Some people may now conclude that everyone accused of cheating is guilty and will eventually be caught, in other words "guilty unless proven innocent" (while it is impossible to prove that anyone is innocent). This would certainly be the wrong conclusion from the Ivanov case - all a GM losing against an amateur would have to do is yell "cheater" or have someone else do so on his behalf?!

Frits Fritschy's picture

As you might remember, I was heavily involved in those discussions myself. It even nearly cost me a bottle of champagne. Before this 'Anonymous' unearths what I have written at the time, I would like to get the fight to level grounds.
After all, confronting Ivanov, GM Dlugy was also willing to put of his shoes, and GM Guliaev was even ready to lower his pants. I expect the same gesture of Mr. Anonymous. I mean, shyness or humility is one thing, cowardice another. If he refuses, I won't have to take the trouble to react.

Anonymous's picture

"Some people may now conclude that everyone accused of cheating is guilty"

Time for Kramnik to confess!

Thomas Richter's picture

And Topalov!!

Borislav Ivanov's picture

Mr. Ivanov is as innocent as a sleeping baby .Here at this site there is a bunch of aliens from the dark trying to make as many damage as possible to a normal human being.I insist I find him no fault at all.

A's picture

All in all, pretty hilarious work on this comment thread.

Anonymous's picture

Or typical human variability.

Bert de Bruut's picture

It is not progress when you jump from an average of 2100 (and sometimes even lower in BI´s case') to a TPR of 2600+. Flukes exist, but being "examined" by one GM after another, and defeating them, is not something even a "progressing" player is able to achieve. It is in fact naivity of your kind that gives power to mediocres like BI.

Crow T Robot's picture

No! He is innocent! These are all lies by people jealous of his great skill! Some people just have a weird skin condition that makes their skin form weird shapes that could be mistaken with a mobile device! Innocent till proven guilty! Ivanov should be playing Carlsen for the world championship!


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