Bangladesh chess team’s coach and Grand Master Igor Rausis has been allegedly caught cheating during a chess tournament in Strasbourg, France and faces heavy punishment from the game’s world governing body FIDE.
The 58-year-old chess-player-cum-coach, who has coached Bangladesh five times since between 2000 and 2018 was photographed using his cellphone -- allegedly using chess apps to determine his next moves -- at a toilet during a game of Strasbourg Open on Thursday.
The former Latvian champion climbed from a Fide rating of around 2500 to the verge of 2700 in six years. Rausis also became the oldest player in the top 100, reaching number 40 and has a current FIDE rating of 2686.
It was not disclosed who photographed the chess player in that position and under what circumstances, but some chess players have in recent times expressed their suspicion over the meteoric rise of Rausis in rating points.
It is understood that FIDE Fair Play Commission had been following Rausis closely and the photograph might have been a part of a sting operation.
“The final result is finding a phone in the toilet and also finding its owner. Now the incident will follow the regular procedure and a trial will follow to establish what really happened,” FIDE Fair Play Commission’s secretary Yuri Garrett said on a Facebook post on Thursday.
Media reports said Rausis has been suspended from the tournament and French police will conduct its own investigation into the incident.
Rausis, speaking to Chess.com after the incident, said: “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.”
Meanwhile, the news was greeted by the chess authorities in Bangladesh with initially disbelief before international media coverage convinced them of the authenticity of the scandal.
“We are shocked and aggrieved at the findings regarding Rausis, who we knew as a good person and a good coach while he worked with our chess players,” Bangladesh Chess Federation’s general secretary Syed Shahabuddin Shamim told the Daily Star last night.
“We had sent Rausis air ticket to Dhaka to train FM Fahad Rahman for one month for the upcoming World Cup. He was supposed to arrive on July 20. We even talked with him yesterday [Friday] as we initially thought the news was a conspiracy. But now it is quite evident that he was cheating and we deplore the coach’s action. So there is no point of him coaching Bangladesh team anymore,” Shamim added.
Rausis had participated in the chess leagues in Bangladesh in the late 1990s and early 2000s before coaching the national team in 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2008. His last assignment as Bangladesh coach was last year when he took the team to Georgia for the 43rd Chess Olympiad following three months’ training.