Mamedyarov's new letter (which we didn't publish)
A few days ago, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov sent us a new letter in which he strengthened his accusations to Russian GM Igor Kurnosov, who according to the Azerbaijani was cheating during the Aeroflot tournament in Moscow. We decided not to publish the letter immediately, but first ask Mamedyarov some questions. So far he hasn't replied yet, while his letter can be found on several sites already.
Every now and then we'd like to discuss, well, "journalism", on this site. Should we do this? Publish that? This week there was another "situation".
When Shakhriyar Mamedyarov accused Igor Kurnosov, his opponent in round 6 of the Aeroflot Open, of cheating on February 22nd, we reacted quickly and published the news the same evening. It was a scandal that dominated the chess world in a negative way, that week, and it didn't do good for the image of chess. Still, we don't think we should have decided not to publish it.
The incident was widely discussed and the overall conclusion was that Mamedyarov shouldn't have expressed his accusations, and certainly not by sending an official protest letter to the media, for the simple reason that there wasn't any proof. One could say that the grandmaster from Azerbaijan hasn't learnt from Topalov/Danailov's mistakes in October 2006 in Elista.
And so we decided to leave the matter for what it was, hoping for Mamedyarov to come to his senses. In the meantime we also decided not to write about Igor Kurnosov's letter published on e3e5.com, in which the accused defended himself.
On March 7, 2009 we received a new email by Mamedyarov, with a new letter as an attached Word document. In this letter Mamedyarov doesn't apologize, but instead strengthens his accusations by providing more "Rybka proof". Many moves played by Kurnosov in other games at Aeroflot were also Rybka's first choice, which is very suspicious - that's the main argument in the letter.
Instead of publishing it, we decided to first ask Mamedyarov for some explanation, and some more details. Unfortunately we didn't receive a reply yet, and in the meantime the letter was translated into English and published by Chessdom, subsequently copypasted by Susan Polgar, then discussed at the Daily Dirt as well and now finally also published by Chessbase.
To provide the readers of ChessVibes the news they expect, and also the point of view of the editor-in-chief in this matter, we now publish both Mamedyarov's letter (our translation) and an excerpt of the email I sent to him:
March 7, 2009 13:38
Looking at the chess media, I've noticed that much concerning the game with GM Kurnosov in the Aeroflot Open seems unclear and I would like to bring some order in this. After the game finished, I have again analysed the games of Kurnosov until the 6th round and after that. As a result, some facts became clear.
3 Games played with black until the 6th round. Second round: Onischuk-Kurnosov. In this game Onischuk played the novelty 13.Bb2 and after this move until the end of the game, i.e. the 27th move, Kurnosov plays strong moves in the first variation of Rybka, winning in great style. Two rounds later, again with black, and again a Grunfeld Defence, the game Moiseenko-Kurnosov. Moiseenko opts for the novelty 12.Nd4 and again until the 25th move Kurnosov plays the first variations of Rybka.
But in this game he can't beat his opponent because Moiseenko plays simpeler positions and without risk. But still it seems to me that black could played for a win in the final position. Against me in the 6th round, Kurnosov again plays and wins playing the first variations of Rybka.
In all these three indicated games, very few moves were played as second variations of Rybka and the weakest moves were precisely Rybka's second variations. In both the Onischuk and my game we sacrificed a pawn, but in such positions the computer builds a good defence within a few moves, and wins due to a couter attack.
And so, in the 8th round, after attention was drawn to him from arbiters and chess fans, Kurnosov plays rather weak and loses. To me it seems a clear indication that Kurnosov used the help of a computer program, leaving the tournament hall practically after ever move, having such confidence in himself that he refuses a draw offer on move 14 with black against me, in an completely equal position.
I hope that all these details will be analysed throroughly and made public to all chess fans around the world. I have no doubt that in the future, tournament organizers will use these details, which reflect badly on the image of chess.
March 8, 2009 12:52
I am very reluctant to publish your letter. The problem is that you don't offer any real proof for your statement that Kurnosov was cheating during Aeroflot. There are still many questions left to be answered. To me, these things at least have to be clear before I can publish your letter:
1) What computer did you choose? How much memory, what kind of processor, what version of Rybka? How long did the engine calculate? (This way other people will be able
to reproduce your data.)
2) Did you check the moves of Kurnosov's opponents? Does Kurnosov follow Rybka more often than they do? Can you give percentages?
3) More importantly, even if Kurnosov has been following Rybka more often than his opponents, this is no proof that he has been cheating. Most 2700 players play around 80% of Rybka's moves after the opening so perhaps he was just in great form in Moscow. Have you considered this?
Finally, the fact that he left the playing hall often is no proof either. This is the same accusation Topalov/Danailov made in Elista, and in the chess world almost everybody has condemned this behaviour.
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