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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Alexandru Crisan, Fake Grandmaster

     FIDE title regulations say that titles are for life but, but it is possible to lose one's title. "Use of a FIDE title or rating to subvert the ethical principles of the title or rating system may subject a person to revocation of his title upon recommendation by the QC and the Ethics Commission and final action by the General Assembly." That's what happened to Alexandru Crisan of Romania when he manipulated the system to gain the GM title.
     On the July 1997 rating list he was rated 2530, but on the January 1, 1998 list he was ranked number 33 in the world with a rating of 2635 without having played any games of note in the previous 10 years against the top 10 players in Romania and without participating in the top group of the National Championship, representing Romania in any Chess Olympiad or producing any result from any official or well-established tournament in Romania or other place in the world. Crisan apparently falsified tournament reports to gain the GM title. 
     As a result a committee investigating the matter recommended his rating be erased and his title revoked. While the Romanian Chess Federation initially favored action against Crisan, eventually he became the RCF president and changed the policy! FIDE intervened to find a resolution.
     It was decided that Crisan would verify his rating by playing in 3 tournaments selected by FIDE and in the Vidmar Memorial in 2001, held in Slovenia, his result was disastrous 0.5 out of 9. But then he bounced back by winning two tournaments in Yugoslavia. At Tekija and Kladovo, he won both events by drawing most games in a handful of moves and defeating a few opponents who were all competent players, but they had fallen on hard times when Yugoslavia melted down in the 1990s. Bribery was suspected.
     In 2011 Crisan was arrested and imprisoned on fraud charges relating to his management of the company Urex Rovinari. As the former owner of Urex Rovinari, he was sentenced to four years in prison for having claimed 80,000 euros in exchange for an intervention involving the construction of a landfill. Chesswise things remained unresolved until August 2015 when he was stripped of his titles and his rating adjusted down to 2132. 
     He's not the only person who arranged titles for himself by "playing" in non-existing tournaments. Ian Rogers alleged that Andrei Makarov (at the time a FIDE vice-president and Russian chess federation president had arranged an IM title for himself. 
     In 2005 FIDE refused to ratify norms from the Alushta (Ukraine) tournaments, claiming that the games did not meet ethical expectations despite the fact that a number of players involved protested. See the ChessBase article HERE. A different Ukrainian tournament in 2005 was found to be completely fake. Read about it HERE and a followup report HERE.
     Oddly, when the Crisan affair was under investigation by FIDE they solicited the opinion of GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who at the time was one of the highest rated players in the world. After reviewing Crisan's games, he stated, "For me if I am asked how Mr. Crisan reached his rating of 2600, it is clear to me that it was done in an illegal way." It was odd because Azmaiparashvili, already a strong player, was alleged to have rigged the results of the Strumica tournament of 1995 to allow himself to obtain his title.  Sveshnikov referred to the incident as an open secret. 
    In 2004 at the closing ceremony of the 36th Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Azmaiparashvili was arrested by local police and held in custody for several days. The attitude of the event's organizers towards Azmaiparashvili had been soured when, upon his arrival in Spain, he had attempted to secure two hotel rooms for himself, claiming he was entitled to one in his capacity as a FIDE vice-president and another because he was a player in the event. 
     At the closing ceremony when he approached the stage, apparently in an attempt to inform FIDE officials that the organizers had neglected to award a prize named in honor of former Women's World Champion Nona Gaprindashvili, he got into a conflict with security officials and in the ensuing scuffle both he and a security guard were injured. A press release from the organizers placed the blame on Azmaiparashvili saying that after he had tried to gain admittance to the stage on several occasions he "without any previous provocation, assaulted the agent with a head butt to his mouth". FIDE blamed over-zealous policing, saying, "Despite his clear VIP identification, he was severely beaten up by several security guards". Azmaiparashvili was due to appear in court on July 22, 2005, but the charges were dropped. 
     He had also been criticized in 2004 over arrangements for the 2004 Women's World Championship when Georgian players Lela Javakhishvili and Ana Matnadze accused him of behaving "in a hostile and intimidating manner, using inappropriate and vulgar language and bringing to tears our mothers". 
     In spite of his skullduggery Crisan was a near-master and what makes the following game interesting is that it shows how easily a 2700 GM can roll right over an Expert even though the Expert doesn't make any serious blunders. Crisan's position just slowly deteriorated after a couple of second rate moves until there was nothing left. 

1 comment:

  1. Azmaiparashvili was employing the infamous Skullcracker Gambit. A line I played a lot in the 90's but don't seem to remember how the main lines went...funny...