Chess Genius or Chess Cheat: the Zadar Open in Croatia

Once again, accusations of cheating are circling in the world of tournament Chess.  After a spike of tournament cheating cases in recent years throughout Europe and around the world, we have become increasingly sensitive to the sudden displays of extreme genius over the board by otherwise consistently average players. A similar case has been repeatedly reported in the media from the recently finished Zadar Open in Croatia.

 In Group A of this mid-December tournament, 32 strong grandmasters and other titled players convened to compete for the top prize of EUR 2200. Among those 16 GMs and nearly as many IMs and FMs was a single untitled player previously registered in group B of the tournament. The Bulgarian player, Borislav Ivanov, who was rated 2227 at the time, had decided to transfer to Group A.

Surprisingly, perhaps, once the tournament began, Ivanov started to win game after game beating world-class players, like the renowned GM Kurajica, GM Kožul, and GM Šaric. The tournament organizers became increasingly suspicious but despite various precautions and investigations, nothing concrete has been proven.

This topic has been divisive on the Internet, leading to some prominent Chess players producing detailed videos on the subject: these are included, beneath.

 Video 1

Video 2

Genius or cheat?  Innocent until proven guilty, or crucified in a trial by YouTube?  Before jumping to conclusions, consider that – in terms matching human moves against engine moves – Capablanca often comes out first!  And, on the road to becoming titled doesn’t an untitled player often beat (or draw with) some IMs / GMs? I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions …