Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Chess grandmaster banned for cheating in competition


A disgraced chess grandmaster, banned from tournaments after he was caught cheating by using a phone while sitting on a toilet, has been seen spotted competing under a new name.

Players became suspicious of unrated ‘Isa Kasimi’ after he destroyed an opponent at a small tournament in Latvia on Saturday.

But the mysterious player, who wore a face covering between rounds, making him hard to identify, was quickly unmasked.

He was revealed to be the infamous Igors Rausis, a top rated grandmaster who last year was engulfed in a cheating scandal after a picture emerged of him sat on a toilet using a mobile phone during a tournament.

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Phones are banned at chess tournaments because of chess software that can be used to suggest winning moves.

It was unclear at the time whether Rausis, 59, was using such an app. He later told The Times he had been – though he declined to say which one.

However, for using the phone, the Ukrainian-born player, who has previously represented Latvia, the Czech Republic and Bangladesh, was banned for six years from The International Chess Federation (FIDE) rated tournaments and stripped of his grandmaster title. 

Saturday’s tournament in the northern Latvian town of Valka was not an FIDE event, meaning Rausis could play.

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However, according to Chess24, Rausis withdrew from the event, a memorial for the Latvian chess personality Vsevolods Dudzinskis who passed away in January, after his identity was uncovered by grandmaster Arturs Neiksans. 

Latvian-born player Neiksans, who is from Valka, went on to win the two-day tournament – which had a total prize pot of £1,000.

He later revealed details of the ‘incident’ in a social media post.

In the Facebook post Neiksans said: ‘In round three I noticed that in the tournament incognito was the notorious Igors Rausis, who has been banned by FIDE to play in tournaments for six years!

‘He was wearing a mask and playing on the lower boards with a name of Isa Kassimi thus I did not even notice him.

‘When I confronted Rausis, what is he doing here, violating the ban, he showed me a new ID with the new name.

‘That made several participants immediately furious, and his round three opponent declined to play against him.’

Neiksans later said he was ‘really shocked’ when the event organisers called Latvian chess officials for advice on how to deal with the issue and they replied that it was legal for Rausis to play in the tournament.

He added: ‘I immediately protested that allowing Rausis to continue to play taints the memory of my coach.

‘The tournament director kindly asked Rausis to leave the tournament, and he luckily complied without further incident.’

Speaking to Chess.com, Rausis denied he was trying to hide his identity in the tournament.

He said: ‘I am a well-known figure in Latvian chess.Everyone could have recognized me already during the first round.

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‘Besides, I had already played two earlier tournaments, one Fischer Random and one dice chess, under my new name.’ 

Rausis, who confirmed his appearance in a Facebook post, said he was using the name to ‘get away from the toilet photos posted everywhere’.  

As previously reported by MailOnline, Rausis was caught ‘red-handed’ in Strasbourg last year, after photographs emerged of him using a phone on the toilet during a tournament.

Phones are banned at chess tournaments because of chess software that can be used to suggest winning moves.

Rausis had aroused suspicion by reaching the game’s top echelon at an age most players decline in strength.

The former Latvian champion was hailed as an inspiration to older players as he climbed from a Fide rating of around 2500 – the level of an average grandmaster – to the verge of 2700 in six years.

Rausis also became the oldest player in the Top 100, reaching number 40 in the live rankings list.

When he broke into the top 100 last year he was lauded as an example of how advancing age need not be a barrier to improvement in chess.

However, his jump in middle age to the level of ‘Super’ grandmaster was unprecedented in a game dominated by younger stars and this led to some whispers of suspicion. 

According to Chess.com, after being caught, Rausis later signed a declaration saying that a phone found in a toilet cubicle was his.

When approached for comment at the time, Rausis said: ‘I am not interested – the damage is already done.

‘I simply lost my mind yesterday. I confirmed the fact of using my phone during the game by written [statement].

‘What could I say more? Yes, I was tired after the morning game and all the Facebook activity of accusers also have a known impact. At least what I committed yesterday is a good lesson, not for me – I played my last game of chess already.’

In a statement to MailOnline, Director-General of FIDE, Emil Sutovsky, said: ‘FIDE does not own chess.

‘We can’t decide that Rausis has no right to play the game, as long as the tournament has nothing to do with FIDE, is not submitted to us and is not rated.

‘However, I’d expect organizers and indeed players to manifest their attitude towards the participation of a convicted cheater in tournaments they stage/participate in.’ 

Source – dailymail.co.uk


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