It's the time of lists, Top 10s, Top 2000s, that kind of thing. For chess it's not difficult to determine who has been competing strongly with Magnus Carlsen for the title of person of the year: Borislav Ivanov. (We'll let our readers decide who won this contest.) And he's making our news section one more time in 2013, because it has become clear that the Bulgarian Chess Federation has again banned Ivanov, this time for a period of four months.
Borislav Ivanov | Photo © Blitz.bg
Soon after Borislav Ivanov was banned from the Navalmoral de la Mata tournament in Spain, Yuri Garrett, Board Director of the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), wrote the following letter:
Qualification Commission, Mr. Ignatius Leong
Ethics Commission, Mr. Roberto Rivello
Anti-Cheating Commission, Mr. Israel Gelfer
cc. FIDE OFFICE
Dear Mr. President,
on behalf of the ACP, I wish to bring to your attention some recent facts whereby a Bulgarian player, FM Boris Ivanov, was twice expelled from a tournament for not complying with arbiter requests. The ACP thinks it is only fair that all his games in these tournaments should be either canceled rating-wise or, better, considered as forfeited and therefore presents you with an official request to this effect.
Also, we are wondering whether immediate and urgent actions can be taken against similar cases while waiting for the new anti-cheating regulations to be developed and put into force after Tromso 2014, such as a suspension, in order to avoid further disorders in FIDE rated tournaments.
I trust you will consider this matter very attentively as it is very sensitive for all chess professionals and amateurs alike.
ACP Board Director
Member of the ACP/FIDE Anti-Cheating Committee
Last Wednesday FIDE published a reaction on its website:
FIDE is closely following the developments of the story with regards to the Bulgarian chess player Borislav Ivanov.
We are in receipt of several inquiries and proposals in respect of this issue, with ACP proposing some serious steps. (Y. Garrett letter)
ACP representatives joined FIDE in a Committee which is now preparing a whole system of measures against all kinds of cheating. The Committee will present a proposal to FIDE's Anti-Cheating Commission for the approval of the 2014 FIDE General Assembly to take immediate effect.
FIDE is aware of the damage caused by this unfortunate incident and is seriously considering various proposals.
However, FIDE has not received any official communication from the Bulgarian Federation in this respect and this is the second incident involving the same player from this Federation.
Having in mind all legal aspects of any action against Mr. Ivanov, FIDE is going to bring this case before the FIDE Ethics Commission, for their follow up and decision.
However, by then it was already known that the Bulgarian Chess Federation had banned Ivanov. Two days later FIDE added to the same article:
FIDE has since received the following letter from Bulgarian chess federation:
Bulgarian chess federation would like to inform you that Borislav Ivanov has
been excluded from Bulgarian Chess Federation with decision of the Board of
Bulgarian Chess Federation on 08.12.2013.
Ivanov has been suspended for four months this time; earlier this year the Bulgarian Chess Federation banned Ivanov for three months after he failed to appear at a meeting where he would be questioned and a lie detector would be used.
The Federation gives several arguments for their decision but still, for the second time, Ivanov has been banned without clear proof of cheating existing. However, indirect evidence seems overwhelming: many of his games show a higher level than those of Magnus Carlsen, and his behaviour at events is strange too. He has refused to take off his shoes when asked, and at the recent Navalmoral de la Mata tournament the organizers found a device with wires on his back, but Ivanov refused to show it and instead left the tournament even though he was topping the standings at that point.
Meanwhile, the Ivanov-cheating story has reached mainstream media. For example, last Thursday Bloomberg posted a lengthy article Cheating at Chess and Other Pastimes (quoting ChessVibes several times). Today The Independent published a story too.