Disgraced grandmaster embroiled in ugly new chess controversy

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Igors Rausis was banned for six years from internationally sanctioned chess tournaments. Pic: Chess 24
Igors Rausis was banned for six years from internationally sanctioned chess tournaments. Pic: Chess 24

Former grandmaster Igors Rausis is at the centre of a shocking new chess controversy after using a fake ID to enter a tournament in Latvia.

The disgraced Latvian-Czech is banned from competing in all internationally sanctioned chess tournaments after being found guilty of cheating last year.

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Rausis sparked outrage in July 2019 when he was photographed using a smartphone on a toilet, during a break in play in the middle of a tournament in France.

Phones and other smart devices are banned from competitions because they could contain chess software that gives competitors an unfair advantage.

“Igor Rausis caught red-handed at a tournament in Strasbourg,” World Chess Federation director Emil Sutovsky wrote on Facebook at the time the 59-year-old was caught.

Rausis admitted to Chess.com afterwards that he had used software to cheat, claiming that he had "lost his mind".

Igors Rausis was caught playing a tournament in Latvia after being found guilty of cheating in 2019. Pic: Chess 24
Igors Rausis was caught playing a tournament in Latvia after being found guilty of cheating in 2019. Pic: Chess 24

He also indicated that his playing days were over, however, the veteran has been caught out again at another event in Latvia.

Despite being banned for six years by FIDE - the governing body of international chess - Rausis was busted trying to enter the competition under a fake name.

It's alleged Rausis had a fake ID and was wearing a face mask like other competitors during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, rival grandmaster Arturs Neiksans recognised and confronted the 59-year-old, before alerting tournament officials.

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“Just in round 3 I noticed that in the tournament incognito is playing the notorious Igors Rausis, who has been banned by FIDE to play in tournaments for 6 years,” he wrote on Facebook.

“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 3 opponent declined to play against him. But what happened next, really shocked me.

“The tournament organiser, unclear how to solve the incident, decided to call one of the main arbiters in Latvia, for advice. And the advice from the nationwide recognised arbiter was — it is legal for Rausis to play!

Neiksans said the disgraced former grandmaster's involvement in the tournament was an insult to the memory of chess coach Vsevolods Dudzinskis, who died earlier in the year.

“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.

Rausis insisted that because the tournament wasn't FIDE-rated that he was eligible to play and argued that he never tried to conceal his identity.

“I am a well-known figure in Latvian chess. Everyone could have recognised me already during the first round,” he told chess.com.

“Before I went to Valka, I double-checked with the Latvian Chess Federation if the tournament is rated. I was said it is not registered and therefore never will be rated.”

FIDE confirmed it had no jurisdiction in banning him from a non-rated event but suggested that organisers should never have let him play in the first place.

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