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The Sad Case of Borislav Ivanov

User Rating: / 89
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 06 June 2013
Article Index
The Sad Case of Borislav Ivanov
Page 2

by GM Daniel Gormally

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A player who has been getting far too much attention for all the wrong reasons lately, is the Bulgarian FM Borislav Ivanov.

For anyone who has been sleeping under a rock for the last year or so, Ivanov is about a 2300 rated player who has been openly accused of computer cheating, due to the extraordinary results he has been gaining, often finishing his opponents off with some remarkable tactical shots, hence the computer link. It is also clear from anyone analysing his games in any detail, (if you are that sad) that a great percentage of Ivanov's moves coincide with the first choice of the computer. The interesting thing about all this is that no-one seems to put forward a credible explanation of how Ivanov is getting away with it. How exactly is he cheating?? Some have suggested that he has some kind of sophisticated device attached to his body; perhaps something attached to his eye, rather resembling the plot of a Mission Impossible film.

Or that he has someone working with him, ever present in the playing hall, a mysterious lurking figure, relaying the moves back to Ivanov via some device. But if such a person exists, the identity of him/her is still unclear.

Such has been the difficulty in establishing the method that Ivanov is using to cheat (that is if he is indeed cheating) that there has even calls to disqualify cheats, by using their very methods against them; if their moves are too computer like, then a committee set up can then use their power to disqualify someone, without having to produce any physical evidence of cheating.

But this is also dangerous, as it opens up another can of worms. Say my opponent plays a great game, displaying great tactical accuracy. Such an event is hardly unusual. He beats me, do I then refer him to this committee? It has been suggested that Ivanov must be cheating, as his moves tally with the computer too often to not be. But the top guys, like Carlsen, seem to display that same kind of computer accuracy all the time. Are they too cheating? Is the chess world populated with mini- Lance Armstrongs?

More likely the top guys are just so accurate because they are so bloody good, or that they are used to working with computers all the time, in preparation for the game. Could it be argued that any kind of work with a computer is a form of "brain doping"? But of course times they are a changing, and the chances of introducing a blanket ban on chess program use is impossible. The real danger lies in the dangers of computers being used in game time.

I think part of the problem has been that in most other computer cheating cases, the cheating has been done in a crude fashion. It's normally someone hiding in a toilet with a smartphone, or in the infamous case of the French national team, someone blagged about it and the secret got out.Clearly, if he is cheating, then Ivanov is being much more subtle about it, at least in regards to actual evidence. If he was just doing it every now and again, I doubt anyone would have even noticed.

But his results have been way above what you might expect of someone of his level. He's wiping 2600 players out using perfect tactics. He's not just beating these guys, he's killing them. That's what has raised suspicions.

Of course you can't help but wonder, if all of this is a form of chess snobbery. "How dare this 2300 pleb wipe out these proper chessplayers." I recall when I gained a 2690 performance in the 2005 Gibraltar masters, when only rated 2470. I gained 30 points and beat Alexey Dreev, as well as drawing with Aronian, Nakamura and Sasikiran. Would such a result be greeted with suspicion now?

But my games were flawed, hardly the perfect tactical chess that Ivanov has been displaying. What also doesn't add up in the Ivanov case, is that shortly after posting these stellar results, he played in a tournament where he dropped several draws to players rated below 2000. In my opinion the spread is too large. You don't smash up 2600's one day and then in the very next tournament drop several draws to 1800 players. I know some players can be very erratic but this is too much. It just doesn't happen. The only conclusion to be drawn, is that somehow Ivanov is using his computer at some events, but not at others.

 Another thing that comes to light is Ivanov's reaction to all these accusations. He's been quite insulting towards chessplayers in general, calling them "Buttheads" and "Lonely old bachelors".

I'm sure he's right about the second part, but Ivanov rather casts this desperate figure. In photographs I've seen of him he looks rather scrawny, you imagine he was the kind of guy who got bullied at school, and is now seeking to gain revenge on his tormentors. Perhaps he perceives the stronger chessplayers as the bullies; by ridiculing them in their chosen field of excellence, he gets his own back.

I can see this Ivanov case rumbling on and on. It's a pity in a way that it's drawn attention away from those who are much more deserving of attention, but everyone loves  a good scandal. Will he be banned from all chess in future? Will he be strip-searched and something found? Or will he eventually reveal that it's all a big joke, and that he was hiding his chess strength all along, that he's really the greatest chess genius to ever grace the planet, and that it was actually his poor performances that were out of kilter? I await with interest.

GM Daniel Gormally is open for chess lessons. You can contact him using this This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Other posts by GM Danny Gormally:
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men - Part II
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men
One move, one line - Part II
One move, one line
Candidates Final Review & Preview of Upcoming World Championship Match
Would Carlsen have beaten Capablanca?

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Comments (11)
1. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 01:17 20 2013 .
Hola, inocente hasta que se pruebe lo contrario
2. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 09:41 20 2013 .
Just when I thought you were being balanced and rational about this you show prejudice in your last but one paragraph. If I was continuously accused of cheating I would direct stronger words than Buttheads and Lonely Bachelors at my accusers and that still would not make me a cheat. The personal attack on his appearance - desperate - scrawny - bullied - is despicable. At any tournament any players that aren't looking like your opinion of healthy or singing hymns during the breaks might look like murderers, fraudsters or at least muggers to you. YOU have become the bully from your position of privilege. We can't find Borislav innocent or guilty from the this witch hunt. We must wait until someone produces concrete evidence, which for the sake of chess and players including Borislav, must come soon.
3. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 16:59 21 2013 .
Not "the infamous case of the French national team, but the "infamous case" of one player of the French national team. Be careful, Mr Gormally. :sigh
4. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 22:11 08 2013 .
"without having to produce any psychical evidence of cheating." 
You surely mean "physical", right? :p
5. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 09:03 11 2013 .
Chess is dying, less and less players are playing tournaments, also for this "paranoid" approach by FIDE and national federations to the problem of cheating. 
Now, it is clear that legally, before punishing a player for cheating, you have to FIND the devices he/she is using to cheat, otherwise you cannot punish someone just because he/she got high/unusual performance ratings! 
According to these "criteria", even Garry Kasparov should have been banned as "cheater", because in 1979, at Banja Luka in Yugoslavia, during his 1st important international tournament, he got a GM norm, having no international rating at all! (he was given 2200 as an "entry" rating). However he defeated many GM, and won with 11.5 points, 2 more than his followers (GM like Andersson, Petrosian, Adorjan, Gheorghiu, etc.). 
So can you tell me WHY a 2300 FM, 25 year old, could not improve and beat some GM, as Ivanov did? 
The similarity of his chess "style" with Houdini is no evidence at all, because many chessplayers are studying and training themselves with chess engines and software. 
Morevover, Ivanov was right in refusing to undergo a stupid test with a "lie detector" (never approved by any State as a legal and scientific evidence to prove the innocence of someone), supported by Danailov and Bulgarian Chess Federation. 
So, please, find other serious ways to look for cheaters, without DESTROYING chess tournaments! :sigh
6. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 07:14 13 2013 .
Just a little amendment...
Florin Gheorghiu didn't play at Banja Luka 1979. 
Here are players and final standings: 
Kasparov 11 1/2 ; Smejkal, Andersson 9 1/2; Petrosian 9; Adorjan 8 1/2; Knezevic 8; Browne, Matanovic 7 1/2; Bukic 7; Marovic, Marjanovic, Vukic, Garcia G. 6 1/2; Hernandez, Kurajica 6; Sibarevic 4.
7. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 22:48 22 2013 .
Just a little amendment...
Dear miss Pogonina, 
Do you think Ivanov is cheating? If so, how?
8. Written by Natalia on 05:31 23 2013 .
Just a little amendment...
@Vaness a) Most likely b) I don't know
9. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 07:11 23 2014 .
thanks for share!
10. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 15:44 29 2014 .
good articles

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 July 2013 )
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