How do you cheat at chess? Young Borislav Ivanov seems to know

The Bulgarian champion concealed aids, say rivals, but some fans are thrilled

He soared from anonymity to notoriety in the chess world in a series of well-calculated moves, beating a slew of Grand Masters before his 25th birthday. But now a Bulgarian chess champion has left opponents enraged – and amateurs envious – following allegations he had been cheating the whole time.

Dubbed the "James Bond of chess" by an excitable Bulgarian press pack, Borislav Ivanov has won top prizes in chess competitions across the continent from Croatia and Spain. But a number of grandmasters – those awarded the game's highest title – are now refusing to sit across the chess board from him.

Ivanov, who strongly denies cheating, was ejected from the Navalmoral de la Mata tournament in western Spain earlier this month after players claimed he had used devices hidden under his shirt and inside his shoes to enhance his chess-playing skills.

In a series of increasingly bizarre scenes, officials examined Ivanov's shoes at the end of the tournament's fourth round because it was "widely remarked that a hidden device could be placed inside his footwear". Finding nothing, they also used a mobile app to scan for hidden metal, but again nothing was found that, as the tournament's organisers said, could "imply the existence of a hidden device inside his footwear".

Then, at the same tournament, competitor Andres Holgado Maestre spotted a "suspicious bump" under Mr Ivanov's shirt, officials said. He later grabbed the bump and claimed "he could touch an oblong object, similar to an MP3 player, attached to Mr Ivanov's body".

After a third incident in which Ivanov was strip searched and officials spotted "a kind of strap crossing his chest", the Bulgarian left the competition – voluntarily. When asked in a recent interview with the website Chess Base how he reacted to the allegations, Ivanov said: "At first I wasn't surprised about the speculations but suddenly they turned very ridiculous. Some people accused me of using technical equipment that only Nasa has. I even heard that I had had my own satellite that transmitted moves during the games."

Commenting on his strip search, Ivanov added: "Although they checked my pockets very slowly and my jacket, and after they found nothing... maybe they were a bit disappointed, [because] they were 100 per cent sure I was cheating and of course that's a total lie. I'm not a genius, nor a cheat, but just a normal boy that wants to have fun playing chess."

Experts say that cheating in chess is not common but not unknown, and a recent spate of alleged incidents have prompted calls for the game's governing body to launch more thorough checks on players.

Once considered pure folly, attempting to cheat at chess in tournaments has become more widespread than ever, as the relevant cheap technology becomes readily available. The most popular technique is to download chess engines, which use data from previous world famous games to help calculate the player's best possible moves.

James Pratt, editor of the world's oldest chess journal, British Chess Magazine, said: "Boris Ivanov is not a well-known name in the chess world, nor is he even now a lovable anti-hero. Where cheating is concerned, chess is small beer; there aren't many big prizes, not really. Thus exposed as he now is, Ivanov has little more than shame to claim as his award. In one form or another, the problem is not new to the 64 squares."

While the elite players are refusing to engage Ivanov in battle, chess amateurs have welcomed him as a cult hero. Dozens of chess forum threads are now devoted to analysing his games and investigating his tactics. In one thread, titled "Cheating is our religion and Ivanov is our god", fans rallied around the Bulgarian.

"I'm officially an Ivanov worshipper from now on. I don't understand all the hate that he gets. You people ought to love him. He is a true legend. [He is] the man who never got caught," one user wrote on the chess.com forum. "I support Ivanov!" another user roared. "I hope he is out from this issue fast! We all know he didn't cheat."

The game's governing body, Fédération internationale des échecs, said in a statement that it was "aware of the damage caused by this unfortunate incident" and was "now preparing a whole system of measures against all kinds of cheating".

The Bulgarian Chess Federation said Ivanov has been excluded from its membership.

Ivanov was unavailable for comment last week.

Chess cheats: A brief history

Dodgy Glasses

Loris Cereda, an Italian former mayor, was kicked out of the Italian Chess Federation last January. Investigators alleged his unusually thick dark glasses concealed a secret camera, through which he received game advice from another player. Mr Cereda denies all the allegations.

Master in a Box

Hungarian inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen fooled 18th-century chess players with "The Turk", which purported to be a mechanical chess-playing machine, but which actually concealed a human chess master. Exposed as a hoax in 1820, the contraption was destroyed by a fire in 1854. Similar machines include the Ajeeb (1868) and Mephisto (1886).

What's My text move?

Three top French players were suspended in 2011 from the nation's chess federation after the body's vice president found a text message to one of the players asking him to "hurry up and send me some moves".

Handy tips

Garry Kasparov, Russian former world champion, caused a stir when he changed his move during a 1994 match after momentarily taking his hand away from the piece. His opponent Judit Polgar complained, but video tape footage revealed Kasparov's hand let go of the piece for less than a quarter of a second. He went on to win the game.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone