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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)
11. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 00:00 18 2014 .
Ivanov is very likely a cheater
Hi Daniel, 
I am a 2500+ player and a computer programmer. I programmed and developed special pats for controlling computers.  
I can assure you that it is no problem at all to handle computers with the toes. 
To be total in control of a very small smart phone with a reprogrammed touch screen, that accept a permanent contact  
from toes needs around two month training. 
I saw some kids who are very skilled with this system of handling. 
For me is it out of question that Borislav Ivanov is a cheater. 
He was wearing in all tournaments heavy shoes and when they tried to check them he got very upset, left the tournaments, but he did not refuse the search of other body parts or clothes. 
He skipped a meeting in which a GM would have found easy the answer whats going on with him. He knew that he would be in trouble. 
What makes me even more sure is his behavior outside the tournament halls.  
He is talking about his chess level only when there is no chance to check it on the spot. 
Apart from this is one thing the most disturbing proof for his cheating. 
He claims to be a player with a level 
of 2600+ ... and he is never analysing the games afterwards with his opponents. 
I have never seen any player in the chess world with 2500+ who is never using the chance to talk about the ideas from his opponents. 
I dont know any argument that I would use to defend Mister Ivanov. 
nice greetings 
To catch him would be easy. Just wait that he is participating in a tournament. On day one3 before the games, all players have to be there 30 minute4s before the games are starting. Then securities are locking the doors from the big playing hall. The tournament organizer tell then the players that the landlord of this playing venue is protecting his property against damage, so he offered all players free house shoes (the same as they give in airplanes for free). The players should now change the shoes. His reaction would be interesting. I guess that he will panic.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 July 2013 )
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