Reports | February 02, 2011 0:24

French cheating case: latest updates

French chess federation accuses three of its players of cheating; one of them deniesBecause of the sensitivity of the subject, so far almost no details have emerged about the French cheating case. However, the French news website Europe-Echecs keeps on adding bits and pieces, and some of these were kindly translated into English by two of our readers.

We'll start with a small recap, summarizing what it is all about. On January 24th we first reported about the cheating scandal in France: the French Chess Federation (FFE) accuses GMs Sébastien Feller and Arnaud Hauchard and IM Cyril Marzolo of organized cheating during the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk last year. The French Chess Federation didn't provide details, but it's safe to say that the case is about computer assistance during play.

Not long after the publication of this communiqué, Sebastién Feller completely denied the accusations of cheating. Strangely enough, the 19-year-old French grandmaster immediately added that the accusations must be related to his open support for Kirsan Ilyumzhinov during the FIDE presidential elections (while the French federation supported Anatoly Karpov). French Chess Federation’s Vice President Leo Battesti called Feller's remark "pathetic" and "insulting to our president and his federation".

A few days later a communiqué was published on the French website Europe-Echecs, signed by the other team members in Khanty-Mansiysk: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet, Vladislav Tkachiev and Romain Edouard. The four grandmasters gave their full support to the federation in investigating the case seriously.

During the Tata Steel Chess Tournament we spoke to one of the members of the French Olympic team. The player told us that the Olympic team members were preparing this joint statement. Because of the senstitivity of the subject, the player refrained from commenting any further.

Later, Laurent Fressinet and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were interviewed on video by Europe-Echecs. Our reader Test left a translation in the comments:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave says he learned about the affair shortly before Tata Wijk aan Zee when the federation informed him there would be an open letter about the investigation so that he would be prepared and not have to face some kind of news “bombshell”.

Laurent Fressinet says he was surprised and even shocked that their team could be under suspicion.

Both say they didn’t suspect anything during the Olympiad or noticed anything out of the ordinary.

Arnaud Hauchard was going to be mentioned in the open letter about the investigation and he is also the trainer and second of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He didn’t accompany Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to Wijk aan Zee.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: I talked to Arnaud Hauchard and my sponsor and we decided that under the current circumstances and at least until the investigation has finished it would be impossible that Arnaud Hauchard could accompany me to a tournament.

French cheating case: interview Fressinet and Vachier-Lagrave by Europe-Echecs

Have other players (in Wijk aan Zee) talked to you about the affair?
Laurent Fressinet: (in short) Yes, they wanted to know what really happened.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: (in short) Yes, amongst others Anand & Carlsen. We try to cope as best as possible.
Laurent Fressinet: (paraphrasing) Considering the gravity of the situation and the accusations we understand all the concerns and that it takes time and have published our open letter to explain our position.

Then, a statement from GM Arnaud Hauchard appeared on the Europe-Echecs website, which was translated for us by Wouter Otto Levenbach aka Dave:

The declaration of the Human rights says that each person is innocent till proven guilty.
The European Human rights convention, says itself, in its 6th article, 2nd paragraph that “each individual accused of an offense is presumed innocent till his culpability is legally pronounced”.
Finally the article 9-1 of the Civil Code from the law number 2511 of June the 15th 2000, stipulates that everyone has a right to the respect of the presumption of innocence.
It is then forbidden to hold somebody publicly, before any conviction, as guilty of acts, under investigation or procedure.
To attribute to somebody an offense hurt social values which the presumption of innocence intends to protect.

One of these values is the right for each individual to dignity and respect, the other one is the authority and the serenity of justice. It seems obvious that the Federation didn’t take into account these articles publishing my name on its official site before the end of the investigation.
I’m waiting for the disciplinary hearing in order to say more about this case and I deny the facts attributed to me on the site.

Arnaud Hauchard, International Grand Master

Wouter Otto Levenbach aka Dave also translated a communiqué by the Board Director of the French Chess Federation:

The FFE board, seated January the 29th 2011 in Paris, took into account the circumstances which led the members of the Federal Bureau to bring the case to the disciplinary commission December the 22nd 2010, for a disciplinary action against international Grand Masters Sebastion Feller et Arnaud Hauchard, as well as international Master Cyril Marzolo, on grounds : “suspicion of organized cheating, serious breach of sport ethics, undermining the image of the national Olympic team, at the World Team Chess Championship that took place in Khanty-Mansyik (Russia) from September 21 to October 3, 2010”.

The FFE board fully grasped the importance of the alleged accusations, and of the constitution of a file containing evidence. It was decided to fully support the action unanimously.

Furthermore, taking into account the severity of the alleged offense, and of the presence of new elements which could lead to think that the “organized cheating” didn’t occur just in the Olympiads of Khanty-Mansyik, the Board mandated the Federal Bureau to bring the case to a penal court (sic).

In addition, the FFE board reasserts its intention to fight against any kind of cheating and is pleased that the 4 other members of the French national team Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet, Vladislav Tkachiev et Romain Edouard, had asserted their total support to this initiative.

The FFE board of directors,

Paris, January the 29th 2011

The latest news is an official statement from the organizers of the 2010 Biel Open. A month after their tournament had been held, they received an email from three anonymous people, who claimed to have witnessed cheating by GM Hauchard (helped by IM Marzolo) in his game against Pelletier. Here is the communiqué in English, again thanks to Wouter Otto Levenbach aka Dave:

The Biel International Chess Festival organizing committee took into account the Fédération française des échecs (FFE) communiqué of January the 21st 2011, in which it is announced that a disciplinary action had been initiated December the 22nd 2010 against the International Grandmasters Arnaud Hauchard and Sebastien Feller as well as against International Master Cyril Marzolo, on suspicion of “organized cheating, serious breach of sport ethics, undermining the image of the national Olympic team, at the World Team Chess Championship that took place in Khanty-Mansyik (Russia) from September 21 to October 3, 2010”.

In articles and interviews published on multiple internet sites, the Biel International Chess Festival of 2010 was mentioned, according to these sources, there as well a possible organized cheating took place by the three aforementioned players.

Ask to give expression on this case at multiple times from various direct or indirect actors, the Biel International Chess Festival releases the following official communiqué:

1.As for the FFE communiqué, the disciplinary action concerns the Khanty Mansiysk Olympiads. It is nowhere said that the Biel Festival is concerned. To this day, we didn’t receive any request from the FFE.
2.Indeed GMs Arnaud Hauchard and Sébastien Feller participated in the 2010 Biel Open. IM Cyril Marzolo was there at the Palais des Congrès for a few days but didn’t participate in the Open.
3.Never a formal and direct complaint from a player was addressed to one of the arbiters concerning the aforementioned players. However, the Festival Bureau recalls a player who complained about “suspicion of cheating”. Because the Bureau deals on a regular basis with such claims, often unfounded, the player had been told to contact an arbiter to share his suspicions. But no arbiters had been contacted as far as the principal arbiter and the organizing committee are aware of.
4.Of course, in the case of a serious complaint, one of the arbiters would have investigated on the case, with the tools set at his disposal.
5.It is only in September, about a month after the Biel Open that we received an e-mail, from a contact, of three anonymous testimonies of players accusing directly the aforementioned players of “organized cheating”. Those accusations are indeed very detailed. A sample game is displayed which could have been manipulated. But the victim GM didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary at the time.
6.Not knowing the identity of those three witnesses and considering the impossibility to initiate an investigation weeks after, without any evidence, the Festival wasn’t yet able to follow up on those suspicions.
7.Subsequently to this case, it has been already decided to reinforce the surveillance system for the next Biel festival, which will happen from July 16th to 29th 2011.

The Biel International Chess Festival
The organizing Commitee, 01.30.2011
Peter Bohnenblust, President
Peter Burri, Director
Olivier Breisacher, Public relations and Grand Masters Tournament Manager
Matthias Gallus, Principal Arbiter

Once again thanks to our readers who have so kindly provided us with these translations.


Update, February 2, 15:08: Here's our response to the discussion in the comments about the (quality of the) translations provided by two of our readers. First, we would like to state ChessVibes tries to encourage such contributions by our readers, and we see it as an example of the dedication of our growing community.

Furthermore, in our opinion the translations included a number of new developments. There's the reactions from indirectly involved top players - even when they cannot say much, that's saying something. Then, the directly involved GM Hauchard quoting the European Convention on Human Rights, and the communiqué by the Biel organizers - all this is adding to the newsworthiness.

But... in hindsight we should have come with an accurate translation ourselves instead. If only because in that case it would be ChessVibes, and ChessVibes only, responsible for any errors in style or facts. We're giving the three texts below again, but now cleaned up by a native English speaker:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave says he learned about the affair shortly before Tata Wijk aan Zee when the federation informed him there would be an open letter about the investigation so that he would be prepared and not have to face some kind of news “bombshell”.
Laurent Fressinet says he was surprised and even shocked that their team could be under suspicion.
Both say they didn’t suspect anything during the Olympiad or notice anything out of the ordinary.
Arnaud Hauchard was going to be mentioned in the open letter about the investigation and he is also the trainer and second of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He didn’t accompany Maxime Vachier-Lagrave to Wijk aan Zee.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: I talked to Arnaud Hauchard and my sponsor and we decided that under the current circumstances and at least until the investigation has finished it would be impossible for Arnaud Hauchard to accompany me to any tournaments.

Have other players (in Wijk aan Zee) talked to you about the affair?
Laurent Fressinet: (in short) Yes, they wanted to know what really happened.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: (in short) Yes, amongst others Anand & Carlsen. We’re trying to cope as best as possible.
Laurent Fressinet: (paraphrasing) Considering the gravity of the situation and the accusations we understand all the concerns and that it takes time and have published our open letter to explain our position.

The Declaration of the Human Rights says that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The European Convention on Human Rights itself states in Article 6, paragraph 2, that “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”. Finally the [French] Civil Code, Article 9-1, under Act 2511 of June 15, 2000, stipulates that “Everyone has the right to respect of the presumption of innocence.”.
It is therefore forbidden prior to a conviction to hold somebody publicly guilty of acts under investigation or on trial. Attributing an offense to somebody damages the social values which the presumption of innocence is intended to protect.

One of these values is the right of each individual to dignity and respect, the other one is the authority and serenity of justice. It seems obvious that the Federation didn’t take into account these articles when it published my name on its official site before the end of the investigation.
I’m waiting for the disciplinary hearing in order to say more about this case and I deny the allegations made against me on the federation website.

Arnaud Hauchard, International Grand Master

The FFE Committee, meeting on January 29, 2011 in Paris, took into account the circumstances which on December 22, 2010 led the members of the Federal Bureau to bring before the disciplinary commission a case for disciplinary action against International Grand Masters Sebastion Feller and Arnaud Hauchard, and also International Master Cyril Marzolo, on the grounds of: “suspicion of organized cheating, a serious breach of sporting ethics and undermining the image of the national Olympic team at the World Team Chess Championship that took place in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) from September 21 to October 3, 2010”.

The Executive Committee took full account of the allegations and of a dossier containing evidence. It unanimously decided to give its full support to the actions taken.

Furthermore, taking into account the severity of the allegations and the presence of new evidence which might suggest that the “organized cheating” didn’t only occur in the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansyik, the Committee has mandated the Federal Bureau to bring the case before a penal court (sic).

In addition, the Executive Committee reasserts its intention to combat cheating of any kind and is pleased that the 4 other members of the French national team, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet, Vladislav Tkachiev and Romain Edouard, have asserted their full support for this initiative.

The FFE Executive Committee.

The Biel International Chess Festival organizing committee took into account the Fédération française des échecs (FFE) communiqué of January 21, 2011, in which it was announced that disciplinary action had been initiated on December 22, 2010 against International Grandmasters Arnaud Hauchard and Sebastien Feller and International Master Cyril Marzolo, on suspicion of “organized cheating, a serious breach of sporting ethics and undermining the image of the national Olympic team at the World Team Chess Championship that took place in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia) from September 21 to October 3, 2010”.
The 2010 Biel International Chess Festival has been mentioned in articles and interviews published on multiple internet sites. According to these sources it is also possible that organized cheating by the three players mentioned took place there.
Asked to give its opinion on this case on multiple occasions from various direct or indirect parties, the Biel International Chess Festival is releasing the following official communiqué:
1. As regards the FFE communiqué, the disciplinary action concerns the Khanty Mansiysk Olympiad. Nowhere is it stated that the Biel Festival is involved. To date we have not received any requests from the FFE.
2.GMs Arnaud Hauchard and Sébastien Feller did indeed participate in the 2010 Biel Open. IM Cyril Marzolo was there at the Palais des Congrès for a few days, but didn’t participate in the Open.
3.No player made a direct, formal complaint to the arbiters concerning the aforementioned players. However, the Festival Bureau recalls a player complaining about a “suspicion of cheating”. Because the Bureau deals on a regular basis with such claims, often unfounded, the player was told to contact an arbiter to share his suspicions. However, as far as the chief arbiter and the organizing committee are aware, no arbiters were contacted.
4.In the case of a serious complaint one of the arbiters would, of course, have investigated the case with the tools at his disposal.
5.It was only in September, about a month after the Biel Open, that we received an e-mail, from a contact, with three anonymous testimonies from players directly accusing the aforementioned players of “organized cheating”. Those accusations are indeed very detailed. A game is given as an example of where manipulation might have occurred. But the GM in question didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary at the time.
6.Not knowing the identity of those three witnesses and given the impossibility of initiating an investigation weeks later, with no evidence, the Festival hasn’t yet been able to follow up on those suspicions.
7.In light of this case it has already been decided that the surveillance system will be enhanced for the next Biel Festival, which will take place from July 16-29, 2011.
The Biel International Chess Festival
The Organizing Commitee, 01.30.2011
Peter Bohnenblust, President
Peter Burri, Director
Olivier Breisacher, Public Relations and Grand Master Tournament Manager
Matthias Gallus, Principal Arbiter

Previous articles

Tags:

Share |
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

Chess.com

Comments

Cheesus's picture

Will the accused be refused bail?

leigh's picture

the proof obtained from illegal wouldn't taken by court, so it can't be called proof. if they have, they would show people on the first time.
in any organization, there are several groups, even in a small club. I think the president and Feller belongs to different group. president group want to take out all the Feller group. from view of this point, The FFE overly reactted.
suspect cases happened many times, like toilet gate, GM dropped in a Russian's tournment. But without powerful proof, the organizers could do nothing.
If FFE has the proof, they would do as in Indian and USA, right away, a punishment.
some may say the moves are the same as some specific software. this can not be a proof, becase even me, a 1500 player, has the surprising same moves as the software did.

nicolov's picture

My opinion is that FFE knows for certain that these players have cheated. But the way they acquired the evidence (for instance via "spying" phone calls) doesn't allow them to sue in justice. They need something else.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I don't do the thumbs thing, but you hit the mark. Battesti looks just the guy waiting to be cheated...

Delinquncy's picture

Just to fill in a few tidbits I found. The Vice-President Battesti is the spokesman for two reasons. One is that he is a lawyer ("Sorbonne-trained"), and another is that it seems the President (Moingt) will appear as a witness.

Moingt is a FIDE Master: http://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=601608

Leo Battesti is "a Corsican politician, journalist, and chess enthusiast."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Battesti

nicolov's picture

What if the proof, that the FFE is supposed to have, had been obtained in an illegal way. That could explain the fact that it hasn't been exposed openly.

Thomas's picture

There is some sort of evidence, namely a screenshot at a German blog:
http://schach-welt.de/blog/blog/es-sieht-nicht-gut-aus-fur-feller
It's a bit strange that the other name is blacked out, the text says the following:
"[Blacked out] SEBASTIEN FELLER caught for cheating 24 March 2008 Unfortunately we have to report that in the 241th Champions Challenge two players were caught cheating, i.e. using engines during the game. [Blacked out] and the French GM SEBASTIEN FELLER used electronic help during their games. According to our server and tournament rules, both players are banned for two months. Furthermore their ducats were .... (end of screenshot)".

I agree with Janis that this is rather a "youth sin" and, certainly from a legal point of view, doesn't mean much. On the other hand, (to my knowledge, I am not a legal expert) in some countries or under some legal systems repeat offenders are punished more severely.

Delinquncy's picture

Thanks Thomas! A bit odd the blog blacks out the name of someone in the screenshot, but provides a link to the original where it is still included!

The rest of the schachserver.de brief notes
"Der Einsatz von Engines während einer Partie ist kein Kavaliersdelikt. Tatsächlich handelt es sich hierbei um eine kriminelle Handlung" and discusses how it is fraud.
http://www.schach-server.de/gameservermsg/deutsch/turnier2.asp?id=7621

Jonathan Bryant's picture

I was just about to ask the same questions as Delinquency.

Could you provide links to evidence that support your statement?

Jonathan Bryant's picture

Two thumbs up from me - both for the response and the attitude behind it.

My faith in Chess Vibes is restored :-)

calvin amari's picture

These are at least partially apt. To me this also has all the earmarks of petty officials receiving some accusation, however credible, that the officials knew would constitute Big News, and they were more eager to feel important by starting to blab to the press than they were to discharge their important obligations in the responsible manner that the situation merits. I could be wrong but, in situations like this, appearances are all important.

Incidentally, speaking of "sciolistic" -- at least in the sense of the pretense of knowledge or scholarship -- note how the FFE spokesman in the Chessbase interview is posed before a chessboard, but the position of the peices looks to be an an impossible one. http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=6966 Perhaps, as they say, one picture really is worth 1000 words.

Don Quijote's picture

Yes, you clearly do not understand. Two of the three players have been caught cheating on the internet. That fits another profile. And it's not that of an innocent.

If your morals allow cheating for rating and status on a chess server, then why not when there is more at stage?

To give a comparison, I didn't for a second think that Kournosov was guilty. There was nothing to suggest he was. This is very different.

I'm not saying that they are guilty. But they do look guilty.

Innocent until proven applies to court of law, not necessarily to public opinion. So let's not be hypocrites here. You don't have to defend them out of some rigid principle, you can form your own opinion.

Michel83's picture

When you mentioned the "psychological profile" you were referring to their answers, not the Internet cheating (which you mentioned later by saying their answer ADDED to that). Your "psychological profile" was linked to how ANY person would react to such accusations following you. And to that statement I reacted.
You wrote:

"Try to imagine, you would be furious, you would curse and literally spit, you would respond with venom to those accusing you and severely hurting your reputation. You would not back down and you would take no prisoners. This is how an innocent person would protest his innocence against such accusations."

And I was saying: Don't tell me how I would react and don't say this is how everybody would react. Some people are insecure and DO back up when being accused even if innocent. Some people try to calm things down and don't want to spit venom. Some laugh and think it's ridiculous. Some people say nothing. Some people, yes, get angry.
You can absolutely not claim every person would react the same way (by what you simply way the way YOU would react) and you can not tell me how I would react since you do not know me.

I did form my own opinion and it doesn't have to be the same as yours- that's why it's my own. That doesn't make it hypocrite, I can disagree with you. Or do you mean by "form your own opinion" that actually we should have yours? That'd be...ironic.

Public opinion is mostly a bloodthirsty mob which wants to rip every accused person apart- but right now its majority is one the side of the players from what i can read- unless you believe you are the main part of "public opinion".

The funny thing is that I nowhere commented on whether I believe that they are innocent or not.
All I commented was on the fact that you claimed to know how everybody (and that includes me) who is innocent would react in that situation. That's all. And that's my own opinion with which you can disagree.

If you're interested in my opinion:
I don't have much of one. Right now, I am waiting. If they are guilty, we'll see. Some say they have been cheating on the Internet before (although I do not know the details about this- do you?) what makes them suspicious, others say cheating without your team members noticing would be hard. Both "sides" seem to have a point.
However I do think the FFE could have right away gone to court with the prooves they claim to have. I don't see the point in them first throwing accusations publically and now there is letters and public statements being sent forth and back. That actually COULD indicate somebody is trying to get a petty revenge at the players, it could indicate there has been internal battles we do not know about. It's all a "could" right now.
As you see, I find the whole thing strange so say the least. In general. And this is why I am careful with my "opinion" right now.

Michel83's picture

* by what you simply mean the way YOU would react

(edit function, where are you? ;) )

Janis Nisii's picture

[All these opinions and comments on something that hasn't been yet fully investigated, let alone proved, is exactly the reason why FFE should have stayed silent before the end of investigations, hearings and judgment]

Don, I just feel the need to point out to you and all the readers that if a person did something, it's a false argument to infer that he did it again. This is one of the foundamental principles of criminal law (and yes, before you ask, I've studied law) and non respecting itis one of the main reasons why wrong sentences happens.

The fact that someone cheated, maybe when he was <18, during unofficial blitz games over the internet, doesn't even come close to indicate (let alone prove) that this player cheated in official classic tournaments.

Also, and mind, this is very important, there's not such thing as Chess Servers 'justice'. These servers are privately owned and have their own (dictatorial) rules with nothing that looks like a decent jurisditional system. Of course they are free to do whatever they want, but I would NEVER give any credit to their accusations, simply because I know for sure they've gone wrong in a number of cases (one top player once told me that he had to personally call one of the servers to prove it was in fact him and not a cheater playing very well...).

Also, I've been knowing enough chess players in my life to tell you that most of them cheated in a way or another on chess servers. Most of the times It's only a matter of account sharing or consultation games (they're gathered in a tournament and 5 of them give suggestions to one player), but these behaviours are still forbidden on chess servers. I'm talking about GMs here, and even very famous ones, not patzers.

Things are more complex and complicated that we would like them to be and the first principle in commenting on something we in fact know nothing about should be the respect for humans.

Delinquncy's picture

"Two of the three players have been caught cheating on the internet. "
Is this gossip, or is their accusations and evidence? Is Chess Base going to make a formal statement (as with Biel organizers) that Feller (and which other?) has been punished in the past on suspicion of cheating on Play Chess?

Don Quijote's picture

The replies from Feller and now Hauchard have been completely unconvincing and strongly add to the suspicion. The replies do not fit the psychological profile of an innocent person accused of a serious offense.

If this happened to you, shamed and disreputed in front of the whole chess world and you were innocent, how would you react? Try to imagine, you would be furious, you would curse and literally spit, you would respond with venom to those accusing you and severely hurting your reputation. You would not back down and you would take no prisoners. This is how an innocent person would protest his innocence against such accusations.

You would not reply by saying that you are accused because you supported Kirsan and you would not reply by citing human rights documents in a passionless matter-of-fact tone. These responses from Feller and Hauchard are pretentious and detached. Not a proof of guilt, but strongly adding to the gathering volume of anecdotal evidence (Biel accusations, record of computer cheating on the internet etc.)

And if proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, these three should be stripped of ALL FIDE titles, their chess ratings should be eradicated, and they should be banned from organized chess for the next 10 years minimum, like the Indians were.

Better to take a hard line now before this problem becomes epidemic.

Septimus's picture

Don is referring to this 2sshat--> http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=3573

Janis Nisii's picture

Don, fortunately no court can base its decision on opinions like the one you've stated here. However, you have given a fairly precise idea of what gossip is about and on why publicly accusing someone without the proper proceedings is considered against human rights. Thanks.

Arne Moll's picture

Actually I thought exactly the same as Don after reading that statement. How weird is it to drag some support for a FIDE president into the debate when you're really innocent and falsely accused? Doesn't make sense to me - but of course just because it doesn't make sense to me, doesn't mean it can't make sense to someone else :-)

Janis Nisii's picture

It makes a lot of sense instead. If you're accused by your own Federation, the first question that can come to people's mind is: Why on earth should your own Fed accuse you, causing self embarassment, if you are innocent? Bringing up politics can represent a reply to this question.

Michel83's picture

Interesting that you know exactly how I (and everybody else) would react. Thanks for telling me. It totally makes sense to assume that because you would react like that everybody else would too and hence somebody who reacts differently is suspicious.
But I suppose I don't have enough common sense to understand the "psychological profile of an innocent person".

Delinquncy's picture

"It is really discouraging that so many matters of chess administration are conducted in such an amateurish, unprofessional, and embarrassing manner."

Sciolistic and shambolic are two words that come to mind.

John O's picture

First post!

Zeblakob's picture

oO

Alexander's picture

Again, the subject matter is very sensitive. Chessvibes should in my opinion refrain from publishing accusations that are anonymous and undecided. If the accusing players are not willing to disclose their identities and back up their statements with their full names, then the name of the accused player should also be omitted.

Peter Doggers's picture

The accusations are not anonymous; they've been expressed by the French Chess Federation. This, and the fact that the Biel organizers thought it was important to come with their communiqué, is news to us - don't shoot the messenger.

Goendi's picture

That is not correct. The press is entitled to publish if it feels it fit. Sensitive or not, that is not their concern. If it is valid information, it is valid to publish it. However, you can ask yourself if a post which actually doesn't reveal anything new (these things have been published before somewhere else), is bringing something extra. Therefor from a journalist point of view, it might have been a better idea to wait untill there is something of value to add to the initial post.

James Pack's picture

Why is it that so much "dirty laundry" gets washed in public in chess politics? I am astounded that the FFE have seen fit to publicly accuse these players prior to a legal investigation. Obviously should these players be proven guilty i will be pleased that justice has been served, but chess is constantly being dragged through the gutter with these public witch hunts! When will FIDE take control of this situation and put regulations in place to ban the public humiliation of persons based on what is up to this point, simply hearsay. I would have thought that 'Toilet gate' would have served as something of a lesson?

jazzkoo's picture

I tend to agree with you. I assume the FFE went public in order to give the impression that they were on top of the situation and not sweeping it under the rug. However the result is pretty ugly huh?

Did anyone ever see that episode of "twilight zone" where the petty criminal dies and goes to heaven (I think Burl Ives is showing him around) and everything is so great. Lotsa women giving him attention, he breaks a rack of pool balls and they all go in the pockets, etc., etc. Great for a bit but then after a while he realizes he's in hell!?!

Seems that cheating at chess would kinda be like that.

Janis Nisii's picture

I subscribe to every single word that user James Pack wrote.

I fail to see any decent reason why FFE didn't wait till the end of investigations and judgment.
The only reason that comes in my mind is that they in fact don't have any evidence as of now and are trying to have confessions or some witnesses to tell what they know (and this is in fact happening, but how can you trust them now?)

Also, offending one of the persons they're publicly accusing before investigations and right procedures are concluded, calling him pathetic is a further and unjustified offence to his dignity and rights.

All this FFE behaviour is a shame and the chess world shouldn't tolerate it. And this stays valid even if they will eventually be proven guilty, because they are blatantly violating their rights and their dignity now.

Sincerely, as a journalist, I don't consider this news but only 'criminal' gossip. I think all the players involved should immediately sue the Federation for that, and I would only be happy to help, if they need it.

If, after a regular procedure, they're proven guilty, I will eventually express all my scorn, but before this happens, they're innocent to me (and according to any law in the globe) and FFE should pay big money for this evil public lynching.

If I were in CV shoes I would have never published anything about this and become 'partner in crime'. Ethic first.

Peter Doggers's picture

It's simply news, and big news at that, and if journalists could only write stuff that has been decided on by a court of law, then newspapers would look very empty indeed. How many newspapers refused to write about Monica Lewinsky's accusations before Clinton was even heard? Should we have refrained from reporting on the accusations made by Mamedyarov two years ago? It just doesn't work that way.

Goendi's picture

I tend to agree with Peter on the matter. However I also think this post does not bring anything "new" as stated above.

As for the facts at hand, I believe most post here tend to forget what the FFE actually did. They informed they would startup a procedure against 3 people, because they have reasons to believe those 3 cheated. That is entirely different from calling someone a cheater. Also, there are different issues to be dealt with. For example, the French federation has sponsors, public, members. It is only correct they inform them of their steps up front. The French federation however is not responsible from the public impression which is given to that statement. Anyone with common sense should be aware that someone is innocent untill proven guilty. It is too often assumed that if allegations are made, there must be a truth to it and therefor they will be correct. In such a reasoning, the part where you're innocent untill proven guilty indeed becomes worthless. However, only society is to blame for that, not the French federation. Again: common sense :)

Delinquncy's picture

You mean Paula Jones's accusations. Monica Lewinsky never accused Clinton of anything. Starr had a slam-dunk case regarding sexual harrassment and abuse of Office of the President for obstruction of justice, but the Republicans in Congress would rather enhance their own reelection bids via salacious nonsense, and Democrats were likely never to vote to convict anyway. And I'm not sure that "hearing" Clinton helped the matter, other than to tell us what "is" is. :) You do give a good example of how the press forms the public opinion and memory, though.

Thomas's picture

Regarding the last part (statement by the Biel organizers), I had seen this elsewhere Sunday evening ( http://schach-welt.de , in German) and sent an email to Chessvibes about it. This afternoon, two hours before this article was published, I got an acknowledgment of receipt ("Thanks, indeed I am considering an update"). Unlike Wouter, I didn't want to interrupt threads on other topics.

I mention this for two reasons:
- I was immediately ready to point out that anonymous rumors were false, or at least unsupported. I had gotten quite a bit of blame here, but all I ever wanted was to shed light on the issue, which could only come from the Biel organizers.
- Question to Chessvibes: Is it OK to interrupt a thread with new information on other recent threads which have (just) disappeared from the frontpage?

Regarding possible cheating in Khanty-Mansiysk, things are IMO still "unclear". The German source I mentioned above actually wrote (free translation): "Talk of the town (or village) in Wijk aan Zee is that incidents around Feller's Olympiad games were already a topic in Khanty-Mansiysk." Another anonymous rumor, which (unless pure fantasy) must originate from several titled players with rather high Elo, 20-30 possible candidates?

By comparison, and indeed by any standard, Chessvibes coverage is all factual. The only opinion was Peter Doggers wrote "The fact that a federation is taking measures to some very strong players indicates that they possess at least some form of proof" (I agree with him, others may not).

Peter Doggers's picture

"Question to Chessvibes: Is it OK to interrupt a thread with new information on other recent threads which have (just) disappeared from the frontpage?"

In general, with all off-topic info readers should consider contacting us via email, but it's not a sin or anything. :-)

Jonathan Bryant's picture

Peter,

I agree with you that the accusations aren't anonymous. What I think Chess Vibes might want to think about is the quality of the translations that you've published. The 'translators' might have had the best of intentions, but frankly, the English is rather poor.

Wouter Otto Levenbach aka Dave's picture

Thank you for the feedback,

which translation were you referring to ?
was there a particular sentence or phrase that could be revised?

Jonathan Bryant's picture

Well, since you ask ...

(and before I start believe me when I say that if the situation were reversed I'd be able to translate "My Aunt's pen is under the table" but probably not much more).

... the general problem is that what you've written just doesn't sound remotely like anything anybody with English as a first language would write.

e.g. in your first document:-

"It is then forbidden to hold somebody publicly, before any conviction, as guilty of acts, under investigation or procedure.
To attribute to somebody an offense hurt social values which the presumption of innocence intends to protect."

This just isn't English. I suspect you've given the gist pretty well (I assume the meaning is supposed to be something like "Natural justice demands the presumption of innocence until proved guilty", although obviously I've no idea if that would be an accurate translation of the original), but this reads like a passage where each word is accurately translated while creating a sentence that can't possibly be correct.

There are also small points ... e.g. "this accusation totally unfounded," should presumably be "... this totally unfounded accusation ...." although again those three words come in the middle of a completely problematic passage.

Again I suspect you've captured the gist but,

I have to denounce the publicity given to this accusation totally unfounded, and reserve myself to pursue this matter through the appropriate courts

I suspect something like

"Making this totally unfounded accusation public is unacceptable and I reserve the right to pursue the matter through the courts."

is more like it although to be honest that doesn't sound quite right either. Hard to know without knowing what the original document said.

I wouldn't normally have bothered making my original comment, but there's been much discussion of this case on English discussion boards (as you might expect) and part of the difficulty we have in understanding what's going on is that we are relying on documents that have been translated (and not necessarily accurately).

E.g.

this sentence

"the Board mandated the Federal Bureau to bring the case to a penal court (sic)."

In strict English this would appear to be saying that the people concerned are to be prosecuted in a criminal court (the sort of place that you might go if accused of fraud or murder or assault or something like that). Indeed, I've already seen a comment on an English board assuming this might be happening.

I presume, though, that is not what you mean. That would certainly seem to be at odds with other information that has emerged thus far.

regards,

Jonathan

CrustyClown's picture

For that matter, the first headline on the issue seemed (to me) a bit off in English: "three accused -- one pleads not guilty" almost makes it look like the other 2 admitted guilt, and in any case "pleads not guilty" is a quasi-legal phrase when "declares (or asserts) his innocence" would have been better IMHO. Writing headlines is not easy, I know.

The notion of "investigation" versus "judicial proceedings" versus "disciplinary action" in the French language and/or judicial system is also a bit of mystery. Again an English speaker could interpret "disciplinary action" as meaning that guilt has already been determined (with the legal machinations now in the "sentencing" phase), when it seems just to mean that a formal judicial procedure is going to occur. Not that I could do any better with the French linguistics though.

Jonathan Bryant's picture

Oh, the other reason that I made my original comment is that I like Chess Vibes very much. I much prefer coming here for chess news than going to, say, Chess Base.

These 'translations' though, simply don't reach the very high standards I would expect of this very good website.

Thomas's picture

In defense of Wouter: For me - a native German speaker who considers himself reasonably fluent in English and French (I have lived 1 year in the USA and in total 1 1/2 years in France) - some French phrases are hard to translate. Just how literally or how freely should it be done?
The general point may be: What works better, a native English speaker knowing French (but he may miss some subtleties of the original)? For Russian, the equivalent is mishanp/Colin McGourty for his Chessintranslation website - who occasionally mentions that Shipov is hard to translate. Or a native French speaker whose English isn't perfect? Anyone bilingual in both languages could give it a try ... .

Jonathan Bryant's picture

"some French phrases are hard to translate"

oh sure, we agree on that. Actually I think *all* translation is very difficult - for the reasons that you mention. It's certainly not something I could do.

Actually, even translating American English into English English (or vice versa) isn't always easy.

Jonathan Bryant's picture

Oh, one more thing,

"In defense of Wouter ...."

If you re-read my original comment you'll see that I was not attacking Wouter, but rather questioning Chess Vibes' decision to publish the translations.

Thomas's picture

I am interested, and joined the discussion because I am myself an occasional amateur translator (in a chessic context, mostly at Mig's blog). "In defense of Wouter" should rather be "in defense of Chessvibes", let's be realistic and tackle the problem on several levels:

1) The best possible (professional) translation: Ideal would be someone bilingual (English father and French mother), or two native speakers (English and French) working together and double- or cross-checking their work. It depends on how difficult the source text is. While I don't say that Jonathan's remarks are unfounded, he would have more rights to request consistently high standards if Chessvibes was a paid subscription site.

2) "Best we can do" or "good enough": Chessvibes may not have anyone on their staff or contact list who is willing and rapidly able to provide a better translation. They don't have the money and/or don't see the need to hire a professional translator. The reason to copy from comments in other threads (Tata and Gibraltar) may have been to have everything in one place, and provide a forum for discussion without interrupting or polluting other threads. I presume they checked whether the translations are rather accurate and free of sense-changing mistakes - this is the case as far as I can tell, but it's beyond my powers to do so in great detail.

3) "French phrases are hard to translate". It may be just me as French is currently my fourth language - now living in the Netherlands, I am exposed to Dutch on a daily basis, and English and German at least every week. But I think French is farther away from English in terms of sentence structure etc. and has numerous subtleties and nuances which aren't readily "translatable" (for me this makes it a beautiful language, others may hate it for that reason).

4) Another issue may be that statements translated by Wouter were written in "legal language". Hmm, not being a legal expert I sometimes have trouble grasping such documents even in my first language. test's job was easier in that respect, and also because he paraphrased rather than attempting to translate sentence by sentence.

5) Final issue (not meaning to criticize Wouter): Do we really have to translate everything on this topic from French? IMO it's still primarily an internal French affair even if it is now mentioned and discussed on the _World Wide_ Web. Question to Chessvibes: Did the French federation actually seek international publicity by sending their initial press release (unsolicited) to various usual suspects? Or was it your own research/discovery and you consider it newsworthy (I would agree on this) ?

Peter Doggers's picture

The Frech federation didn't send a press release, as far as I know.

CrustyClown's picture

"The general point may be: What works better, a native English speaker knowing French (but he may miss some subtleties of the original)?"

Certainly in my field (technical sciences), this is the first named desideratum of many publishers -- a native speaker in the target language, with decent reading knowledge of the language to be translated. However, there is not often a lot of nuance in the technical sciences.

Back when the Soviet Union collapsed, I heard a story that a poly-linguist who spoke about 50 languages (particularly Eastern European) and was working at a university in the Atlanta area happened to call in to CNN to whine that their voice-over translation of a comment from the Bulgarian(?) president was not quite correct. He was immediately offered a job for the next 3 months or more.

Wouter Otto Levenbach aka Dave's picture

It is true that my translation was a bit word for word. Your revision “Natural justice demands the presumption of innocence until proved guilty”, is nicer indeed, but is too vague and not accurate.
I could have written instead: “it is forbidden to publicly announce somebody’s guilt during a current investigation and before any conviction”.
“To attribute an offense to somebody undermines social values which are protected by the presumption of innocence.”

“I have to denounce the publicity given to this accusation totally unfounded, and reserve myself to pursue this matter through the appropriate courts.”
I have to agree with you on this one and your revision is correct “this totally unfounded accusation and reserve the right to pursue the matter through the appropriate courts”.

“we are relying on documents that have been translated (and not necessarily accurately).”

You misunderstood something here:

“The Board mandated the Federal Bureau to bring the case to a penal court (sic).”
from the original “le Comité Directeur a mandaté le Bureau Fédéral afin de porter cette affaire devant les juridictions pénales. »
“Juridictions pénales” means criminal or penal jurisdiction. I used “sic” to inform readers that any errors or apparent errors in the copied material are not from transcription – i.e. that they are reproduced exactly from the original. Basically as crazy as it seems, it is what the FFE actually wrote in its communiqué: According to the communiqué, they are going to a penal court which deals with fraud, crimes, assault, etc (exactly like their American or English counterparts)…

I was happy to share my translation in the comment section and wasn’t aware that was going to be published. I certainly would have made sure there was better sentence structure.
Whatever critics concerning grammar are valid but be assured that the content is accurate, I wouldn’t want to give the English speaking public false information about this subject that I am following closely.

Jonathan Bryant's picture

"I was happy to share my translation in the comment section"

If it had been left in the comment section I'd have never made *my* original comment. My issue with the translation is that they've been published as Chess Vibes main content.

Guillaume's picture

I have to agree with Jonathan Bryant. Your efforts are praiseworthy but I think there are in fact sometimes small distortions and omissions in your translations that give a very different impression than the idea conveyed in the original documents.

In particular, your translation of point 5 given by the organizers of the Biel festival gives the impression that they assert that the GM was indeed a victim ("the GM victim"), whereas the original sentence expresses it as a conditional (the implicit condition being something like "if these accusations are true").

Combine this with your translation in the same paragraph of "intermédiaire" as "contact" (which I believe may convey the additional idea that the email was coming from a trusted source) and "exemple" as "sample" (which carries the additional idea that the game is a representative subset of a collection of games), and you end up with the impression that the organizers of the Biel festival have a strong case against Hauchard, when they are in fact rather dismissive about the whole affair.

On a side note, I hope the FFE has something better than an anonymous email analyzing games to support their accusations.

Pages

Your comment

By posting a comment you are agreeing to abide our Terms & Conditions