Canberra Times, September 16 2001
After a farcical investigation, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) has stripped Alexandru Crisan of his Grandmaster title and his top 50 world ranking.
As reported in in July, the Crisan case had become a major embarrassment for FIDE, with the Romanian businessman organising a series of rigged events which propelled him towards the top of the chess ladder in the mid 1990s.
FIDE had briefly stripped Crisan of his ranking, then reinstated him after appeals from the Romanian Chess Federation, an organisation complicit in certifying Crisan's bogus results.
FIDE asked Crisan to play a few events to prove his strength, but his first try-out was a disaster - 0.5/9 in a Slovenian GM tournament.
Incredibly, Crisan then bounced back by winning two tournaments in Yugoslavia.
Last month at Tekija and Kladovo, Crisan won two events by drawing most games in a handful of moves and defeating a few compliant opponents.
Crisan's victims were all competent players who had fallen on hard times since Yugoslavia's meltdown in the 1990s.
One of Crisan's victims, likeable IM Branko Maksimovic, was at least able to keep his sense of humour as he prostituted his chess skills for a few dollars, as can be seen by the following game.
So far Crisan would have been pleased, managing to follow a 1985 GM game which the players had probably agreed to copy before the game. However Maksimovic now decides to have a little fun and varies from the old game.
Maksimovic must have been chuckling to himself as Crisan continues copying the 1985 game, but there 23.Nxf7 was played after 22...Bxg2!?. Crisan is unable to discern the enormous difference between the two positions - 23.Rxb7 was necessary.
Now, however, Maksimovic was probably rather nervous, as he is in danger of winning this game if he plays 24...Rxh2! (If then 25.Rxb7, Rh1+ 26.Ke2 Re8+ wins.) Of course it was possible for Maksimovic to blunder a piece and resign but that would be a little too obvious. Fortunately Maksimovic found the following weak but plausible move, virtually forcing Crisan to find the winning path!
24...Rc2?? 25.Nh6+ Kh8 26.Rf7 Bc6 27.Rd1 1-0
Yet, faced with an open and shut case of corruption, FIDE have managed to give Crisan multiple avenues for appeal.
The FIDE sub-committee considering the Crisan case sent Crisan's games from Slovenia to Zurab Azmaiparashvili to analyse, and the Georgian GM returned with the correct conclusion that Crisan was nowhere near GM (or IM) strength.
Unfortunately Azmaiparashvili happens to be the strongest player ever to be involved in major ratings fraud, having entered the top 20 by gaining 50 points at a bogus tournament in Strumica, Macedonia in 1995.
The sub-committee failed to consider the Yugoslav games at all, and the process through which FIDE stripped Crisan of his GM and IM titles and reduced his rating by more than 500 points may also be open to challenge.
Crisan could also claim that he was only following the example of FIDE Vice-President Andrei Makarov, who arranged an IM title for himself through non-existent tournaments in 1994.
However reports from Russia indicate that the most serious Crisan-style case yet is just over the horizon; a wealthy Russian amateur has apparently already devised a plan to buy his way into the top 10 by 2003!