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Monday, October 7, 2013

Greatest Feat in Chess History

     According to an article in ChessVibes Borislav Ivanov has decided to quit chess because of all the cheating accusations and after the humiliation of being asked to remove his shoes at a tournament in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. Yes, I think it’s humiliating. Just think of search procedures at an airport…remove your shoes and belt and stand spread-eagled in the x-ray machine. I got singled out twice for closer examination going to Florida earlier this year. The first time was because I forgot to remove my baseball cap in the x-ray machine and that resulted in being called aside for some personal attention from the security gourds. The second time was because I forgot to put my clear plastic bag of shaving cream, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, etc. in the x-ray tray with my wallet, belt, keys and watch. The security gourd got all excited and called his supervisor who had a lot of questions. I was a little irritated, but then realized I’m glad they are so thorough; who wants to get hijacked or blown up? It’s just a shame that chess has come to this but nobody wants to lose to Houdini in a tournament.
      GM Maxim Dlugy claimed that Ivanov was possibly cheating with his feet. Getting moves from a device in his shoe is somehow possible I suppose, but wouldn’t he still need an assistant? Without an assistant, he would have to have incredibly dexterous toes. Anyway, I gave this a lot of thought and decided it would have been better to plant the device in his butt crack. If any input from him was required he could just do butt crunches which seems easier than using your toes.
      I really don’t know what to make of this. It seems pretty clear that Ivanov had a very high matchup rate with engines in some of his games, and apparently tried to avoid suspicion by losing games to much lower rated players on occasion. While the evidence against him is circumstantial it is still admissible as proof of cheating. Circumstantial evidence is described as “Information and testimony presented by a party in a civil or criminal action that permit conclusions that indirectly establish the existence or nonexistence of a fact or event that the party seeks to prove.” Much scientific evidence (evidence that is produced from scientific tests or studies) is circumstantial because it requires a jury to make a connection between the circumstance and the fact in issue. In Ivanov’s case the scientific evidence would be the matchup rate against Houdini in many of his games.
      So the guy probably did cheat in a lot of games and is now apparently out of chess, but what fascinates me, like everyone else, is how did he do it?

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