Ratings Manipulation in the Ukrainian Chess Federation

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  • Ratings Manipulation in the Ukrainian Chess Federation

    Ratings Manipulation in the Ukrainian Chess Federation

    January 31, 2020

    From FIDE:

    Friday, 31 Jan 2020

    International Chess Federation

    Resolution on the rating of Mr. Kobylianskyi and Mr. Shkuro

    January 30th, 2020



    There are suspicion and concerns regarding the achievements of Mr. Ihor Kobylianskyi (FIDE ID 14106329) and Mr. Iuri Shkuro (FIDE ID 14108836) at recent rapid and blitz chess tournaments and the said suspicion and concerns have been reported to the FIDE Presidential Board.

    AND WHEREAS pursuant to Art. 0.5 of the FIDE Rating Regulations / FIDE Rapid and Blitz Rating Regulations

    «FIDE reserves the right not to rate a specific tournament».

    AND WHEREAS in discharge of its obligations under the relevant laws the FIDE Presidential Board wishes to protect the integrity of the sport of Chess, FIDE's rating lists and the reputations of the players,

    The FIDE Presidential Board HEREBY RESOLVES as follows:

    1. To authorize FIDE Legal Advisor Mr. Aleksandr Martynov and Qualification Commission (QC) Secretary Alex Holowczak to investigate the achievements of Mr. Ihor Kobylianskyi (FIDE ID 14106329) at rapid and blitz chess tournaments organized after May 2018 and Mr. Iuri Shkuro (FIDE ID 14108836) at blitz chess tournaments organized after November 2014 in order to confirm or disprove compliance by the players FIDE's laws or regulations, FIDE's general principles, including fair play and sportsmanship;

    2. To request the said FIDE Legal Advisor to provide his recommendations on application of Art. 0.5 of the FIDE Rating Regulations / FIDE Rapid and Blitz Rating Regulations to the tournaments referred to in the FIDE laws or regulations mentioned in paragraph 1 of this resolution;

    3. To suspend the rapid and blitz ratings of the above-mentioned players until the end of the said investigation;

    4. To require the Ukranian Chess Federation (UCF) to seek advance written permission from the FIDE QC Chairman for the rating of any rapid or blitz tournament in which the said Mr. Kobylianskyi or Mr. Shkuro is due to play;

    5. To bestow the right upon the FIDE QC Chairman to withdraw from rating the games of the said Mr. Kobylianskyi or Mr. Shkuro from a rating file if thought appropriate, whether or not previous permission had been sought by UCF; and

    6. To support the FIDE QC in its continuing effort to improve the FIDE Rating Regulations and FIDE Rapid and Blitz Rating Regulations to protect, and promote the integrity of the rating process and lists and prevent accusations from interested parties of poor sportsmanship and questionable ethical practices when tournaments are registered or submitted for rating by any individual or federation.



    There are two discussions on this of note. The thread, FIDE’s 400pt rule on the EC Forum:


    starts off with the statement by Chris Rice in 2019:

    There has been a story rumbling around for a while now regarding how Czech player, Igor Rausis, has been hacking the system. Basically playing players rated way below 400 points below him (usually between 1400-2100 Elo) but for calculation purposes, however low their grade is, its counted as only 400 points below him. Here are the calculations and on the latest list he's up to 2686. Quite why he's doing it is a mystery, perhaps it’s just vanity, but if he keeps going in theory he could pass Carlsen at some point.

    and this recent posting on ChessBase News by Mikhail Golubev:


    Dark times for Ukrainian chess

    In the official January FIDE ratings, FM Ihor Kobylianskyi entered the World Top-10 in Rapid. On the blitz rankings, Iuri Shkuro (whose Grandmaster title deserves, in my view, to become a subject of the separate investigation) returned, after the period of inactivity, to the Top-10 in by playing one local FIDE rated blitz tournament in November, showing there his more or less real level. But Shkuro's previously accumulated "passive" blitz rating was already high enough to stay in the Top-10 even after the loss of more than 20 Elo points.

    Objectively, there are no signs that Kobylianskyi's or Shkuro's chess level is sufficiently high to be among Top-500 — and probably even Top-1000 — of the world's best players, in any form of chess. So, for the first time Ukraine has not one but two obvious rating manipulators in the World Top-10 lists.

    The 50-year-old Kobylianskyi and the 37-year-old Shkuro are living in the very different parts of Ukraine: Ivano-Frankivsk and Kherson, respectively. But they still have many things in common. First of all, they are not widely known, even in Ukrainian chess circles!

    Both of them are professional chess coaches; one of Kobylianskyi's pupils is GM Vladimir Onischuk. Both of them, especially Kobylianskyi, have rarely competed in the any internationally significant tournaments — having, therefore, not many games in the ChessBase Mega Database. Both, as far as I can judge, never really played on the professional/grandmaster level, which is 2500 classical Elo and above. Both of them have produced their fantastic ratings, in rapid and blitz, respectively, in self-organized tournaments, playing mainly against the extremely low-rated opposition.


    There is an extensive discussion in the reader comments after this article in ChessBase.

  • #2
    From the article and discussion on ChessBase it appears as if the two players used an exploit in the rating system to make their way to the top 10. Perhaps they also created fake tournaments or results but there didn't appear to me to be any proof of that. Seems to me that the problem could be solved by slightly altering the rating system.

    I find it amusing that FIDE would care about this. They are good with handing out FIDE titles for dubious achievements all the time. I guess it is only when GM titles or making top lists comes into play that they are forced to take action.
    "Tom is a well known racist, and like most of them he won't admit it, possibly even to himself." - Ed Seedhouse, October 4, 2020.