First They Came for You…

I received an email from a GM in which he wrote, “I’m not interested in political commentary.” This was my reply: “This is not political commentary, GM. I, too, could care less who wins elections. This concerns something that should concern you, which is cheating in chess, because you derive your income from the game. If the current trend continues there will be no chess, and hence, no money for you! You are not getting any younger, GM. What happens if you have an OUTSTANDING result, and are accused of cheating? What if it is YOU Chessbase decides to accuse of cheating?”
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984) was a Protestant pastor and social activist.…

In the US we say a man is innocent until proven guilty. Sometimes it seems that is just theory when in practice it becomes a man is guilty until he proves he is innocent. Our system is not perfect and mistakes have been, and will continue to be, made.
Former Georgia chess champion Bob Joiner was a public defender. He was also my friend. We would get together in his office during lunch and play chess occasionally. One day he told me he had gotten an accused murderer off because the State had made an egregious mistake. He was asked to turn a blind eye and say nothing about the mistake. Bob refused, earning the opprobrium of his peer group, the people with whom he would have to deal every day in the future. I asked Bob if his client was guilty. “Sure,” he said, “But the State has rules to follow and they dropped the ball.”

I do not know whether or not this latest player, who is not the first to be accused by Chessbase, if I recall correctly, is guilty of cheating or not. The fact is that only he knows, unless he is receiving assistance from another person. Consider this, from the latest article, “Ivanov misses BCF anticheating test,” concerning cheating on the Chessbase website: “Borislav Ivanov had a week earlier mentioned, in an interview for the Slavi’s Show, that the chief organizer of the Varna Ope, Boris Hristov, had “categorically refused” to let him participate in the tournament, out of fears that other prospective participants “do not like” Ivanov.” (
I cannot help but wonder what an “anti-cheating test” entails. Since the ALLEGED cheating took place some time ago it would seem logical to have held the test during the tournament in which the alleged cheating occurred.

Bob told me the story of a Georgia Championship in the 1960’s, before I became a tournament player in 1970, concerning the “problem” of having a negro, William Scott, participate in the tournament. It had been decided that Mr. Scott, who was extremely cordial to me, would be allowed to play, but only in a separate room. Bob, and some of the other players, refused to go along, stating that if Mr. Scott was not allowed to play in the same room as everyone else, they would not play, which meant there would be no tournament. Mr. Scott was allowed to participate, and play in the same room as everyone else. It is possible that could have been the finest moment in the history of chess in Georgia.

I cannot help but wonder why this fellow, Borislav Ivanov, has been singled out after reading a letter published on the Chessbase website by Peter Jameson. “This article alleging that Ivanov is a cheat provides no real evidence. How does he cheat even in rapid games watched by a horde of observers? And what are we to make of the two other amazing players in the table displayed after nine rounds? Lyubomir Danov ranked 16th initially sits in seventh place above many titled players! Even more dramatic is Radi Danov who sits in sixth place though initially seeded 28th! And above many titled players. His performance is remarkable too, possibly puts Ivanov in the shade! And both of these players with very lowly ratings. So is your correspondent Alex Karaivanov now demanding an investigation of these players too? If not why not? Or has Alex Karaivanov shot himself in both feet?”
I have looked for an answer to these questions on the Chessbase website but have been unable to find any answers whatsoever.

There have been many stories from the computer world of hackers, after being caught hacking, being given a job in security with the same company they hacked in lieu of going to prison. Since Mr. Ivanov has NOT been caught, maybe someone should consider sitting down with the man and offering him immunity from prosecution if he will confess and inform the chess world how he has been able to elude detection, if he is in fact guilty of anything other than “not being liked.”


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