Suspected Cheater 'Strip-Searched'

  • SonofPearl
  • on 12/30/12, 3:31 PM.

News has emerged that a Bulgarian chess player was "strip searched" after being suspected of cheating during a tournament in Zadar, Croatia held from 16-22 December.

There were 36 players in the tournament, including 16 Grandmasters, yet the 26-year old computer programmer Borislav Ivanov with a rating of only 2227 Elo finished with a 6/9 score, beating four GMs along the way to claim 4th place.

The top placings at Zadar

# Name Elo Pts
1 GM Predojević Borki  2600 6.5
2 GM Stević Hrvoje  2622 6.5
3 GM Sumets Andrey  2638 6.0
4 Ivanov Borislav  2227 6.0
5 GM Jovanić Ognjen  2538 5.5
6 GM Kožul Zdenko  2638 5.5
7 GM Šarić Ante  2533 5.5
8 GM Martinović Saša  2530 5.5
9 GM Cebalo Mišo  2402 5.5


Despite the "strip search" no evidence of cheating was found. 

Stanislav Maroja, chairperson of the chess union in Zadar District said, “After the eighth round we received a signal about Ivanov’s game and after his game with Borko Predoevic, who later on won the tournament, we decided to check on both of them. There were suspicions that Ivanov has some electronic tools to help him and in my capacity of a judge I decided to make a move in line with the FIDE rules. It is not true that we made him strip naked. He himself took off his t-shirt, while we emptied his pockets.”

The FOCUS Information Agency quoted GM Zlatko Klaric, “Ivanov is chess programmer...he made moves like a computer, which was obvious in the game vs Jovanovic. Technologies are so developed now that theoretically, since the games were aired live, Ivanov’s friends...could have sent him hints for his moves through chips, which could have been placed under the skin, in the ear, or in the teeth.”

Either Ivanov had the tournament of his life, or he found a way to cheat without being detected. All of his games from the tournament are below.

This disturbing story also raises many other questions, two being: a) what are the limits of an arbiter's powers to search an individual suspected of cheating? and b) do we now have to scan suspected players for implanted computer chips?


Games and results table via

22659 reads 167 comments
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  • 4 years ago


    Only time will truly tell. Hopefully he is vindicated through a successful chess career from this point forward. Since chess is a game of honor I do not label someone a cheater without indisputable facts to back it up

  • 4 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    here's how to solve the problem - quite simple:

    1: what Kacparov said: don't have him play on a digital board

    2: isolate him [so spectators can't send him moves via sleights of hand/positioning - MUCH easier if the players/spectators are watching the games]

    strip search unnecessary though a basic search for accessories prudent.

    unfortunately there was a lack of sense here.

  • 4 years ago


    The device was hidden in the under garments!! Tongue Out

  • 4 years ago


    When was the last rated tournament that he played in? Because I entered a tournament after about a 2 year layoff with a 1150 rating and finished with a performance rating of 1650. There needs to be more evidence of this sort to  actually determine whether this guy is guilty or not.

  • 4 years ago


    "He himself took off his t-shirt"


    Of course! He knew that nothing was to be found under his t-shirt... 

  • 4 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    @sittingpawn:  Do the research yourself and draw your own conclusions rather than making your own opinions better founded on reason rather than speculation as to my intentions.  Obviously I think he's guilty of cheating because there were several indicators in his play that suggested that he was using a computer in addition to the statistical improbability of matching Houdini's #1 choice every single move for hundreds of moves.  I don't spell it out for people point-by-point, move-by-move, why one move is a computer move, and one move is a human move; I assume people have the capacity of reason to do that for themselves to some extent; what I present at the least a good starting point for research.

    Houdini 1.5 is free and anybody can download it.  And yes 9...Nc6 in game 9 consigns Black to a worse position than normal as several continuations suggested that was based on human, computer and strong human database analysis.

    My AN (analysis) suggests that the performance of the Houdini replicate was 6 or 6.5/8 (a 2897 or 3033 performance) depending if you attribute the loss to Jovanic to human error after 100 moves as I would.  The Predojevic game looks clean from at least move 16 on and the Kuljasevic game looks clean only on move 32.  Taking these factors into account, the performance of the Houdini replicate is approximately 2900 (conservative estimate) or 3100 (my estimate) over 8 games, which is about what you expect, despite a substandard openings repertoire in some games.

    Yes, people can get exceptional performances.  One of my friends beat GMs A. Ivanov and drew Stripunsky and beat 2 FMs and drew 1 in a 5 round tournament despite being 1900 rated.  These things are phenomenal and happen rarely.  But he did not play like Houdini.  Ivanov lost on time and the games went back and forth as games with humans usually do.

    I'm done reading this thread; I find analysis of evidence (the moves themselves) more interesting than opinions founded on not-evidence (speculation).

  • 4 years ago


    @rustyknife: it is true, the methods here are not adequate to catch smart cheats. If i were on staff, i would close approximately 500 accounts on the spot Laughing

  • 4 years ago


    New method to bust cheating? :P

  • 4 years ago


  • 4 years ago


    I have some suspicion that this guy was cheating. There is no way that he could play all those different openings flawlessly. Most grandmasters stick to one or 2 openings, but this guy plays it all

  • 4 years ago


    People beat him so therefore they beat the computer which is about 3200 elo!

  • 4 years ago


    I can't judge until I know how established his rating is- has he played in tournaments for years, or only just began?  Maybe he has always been talented, and in the last year really began to apply himself.  We just don't know, so I call innocent until proven guilty.

  • 4 years ago


    - No evidence that he had cheated was found

    - So lets just put our hand together and congratulate this guy

    - Move on...

  • 4 years ago


    I'm pretty sure with a 300 point differential between him and the GM's he played, his predicted score is something like 15%...

  • 4 years ago


    @deci123: yes like the Hauchard/Feller technique.

    The arbiters were not careful enough, that seems to be the main problem here. They could have used a spotter to look for audience/electronic assistance, once some unexpected results happened.

  • 4 years ago


    jamming wireless signals would not help as it would block the DGT signal from sender (board) to receiver (host).

    I heard a story about a similar case ... some engineer crafted something which he put in his glasses and his friends outside gave him signals

    don't know how but I suspect people could use the technique american prisoners used in vietnam ...

    in my language it's called the "knock" technique/code

    you have a matrix of 


    swipe your broom 2 times and you go to KLMNO
    little pause
    swipe your broom 3 times and you get the letter M

    same could go for coordinates on a chess board ...
    using beeps over a radio signal (so emp would not help) or electric pulses using a chip

    however we might actually get paranoid here ...

    who knows this guy studied well and really played the tournament of his life ...

    but I can't judge as I'm only a low elo player

  • 4 years ago


    With reagrds to jamming of wireless signals: I researched this a lot because it was a problem at the school I teach at - students using them to cheat on tests etc. It is illegal to jam or scramble the signal from a wireless phone because the phone companies "own the airwaves" and interfering with the signal interferes with their property. It is legal however to have a cell phone shield that blocks the signal from the building or parts of the building. Movie theaters are starting to employ this technology (thankfully).

    So it seems reasonable that tournaments can be played in areas that block the cell signals if such places are available.

  • 4 years ago


    use an emp

  • 4 years ago


    Assuming Ivanov wasn't very pleased with how the matter was dealt with, a second search should surely find a chip on his person, more specifically his shoulder.  

  • 4 years ago


    @ NimzoRoy: I think what a tournament director could do, is use a jamming device, but keep a landline available in case of emergencies.

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