Interview with the FIDE Vice President, the Chairman of Anti-Cheating Committee Israel Gelfer
Anastasiya Karlovich: Israel, you are a member of the FIDE delegation, which regularly visits Baku with inspections before the Olympiad. How is the organization going so far?
Israel Gelfer: Everything is going well in Baku. The people, involved in the organization, are very serious and most of them have experience in organising of the European Games 2015. They are modifying what is necessary to modify. The hotels are very good in Baku, the venue is great. I have been there already for several times, last time about one month ago and with my other colleagues we saw everything and we don't have any doubts about this Olympiad, like we had with some previous ones.
As the Chairman of the Anti-Cheating Committee and the person, who is in charge of all anti-cheating measures, what can you say about the coordination of anti-cheating with the organizers?
First of all, I would like to explain the general idea of anti-cheating. Unfortunately, the issue of anti-cheating became important in the last years. I think cheating appeared at the same moment when people showed up on the Globe.
In the last couple of years and specially with the development of telecommunication technologies (mobiles, watches and even glasses) we are facing a problem which we can not ignore. We are trying to balance between our will to fight against cheaters and at the same time not to create unhealthy atmosphere in the chess world. We don't want to look like a police, which comes to every event and checks everyone. At the same time we cannot ignore the problem. Unfortunately there were several cases discovered. We all know about the big case during the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. The cheater was caught after the Olympiad.
During the forthcoming Olympiad we will make some precocious measures.
Of course, there will be gates for security. It's mainly for security but it will also produce a sound if someone has anything small in the pocket. The players will be not allowed to bring mobiles, watches and pens. The organizers will provide pens for every player.
Apart from it there is a new thing which we would like to bring to all FIDE tournaments. FIDE is purchasing a new device, a very modern and a very sophisticated one, which actually identifies everything. On the last Presidential Board we decided that probably after every round of the Olympiad and sometimes during the game we will check the players. It's very effective and very quick (5-6 seconds). Klaus Deventer is a Deputy Arbiter during the Olympiad and also one of the members of our Committee. He will have other specially trained arbiters, who will help to check all four matches in women and men sections and also randomly chosen players (8-10 players each round). It's like we are doing anti-doping after the games. We are still checking the possibility to secure and block the whole area in Baku by using jammers. We already tried it during the World Cup but didn't succeed. In any case, we are going to use all other measures.
Will you have a games delay during the Olympiad? It has already been used and I'm sure the spectators were not happy about it. It also affects a lot the media work.
We have decided that there will be no delay. We are fighting for this because we don't want to destroy the whole communication, live transmission of the games to the World etc. To have a delay is not a disaster but we came to a conclusion that we are ready to have all the measures I've spoken about, and only then to have a delay. Live transmission, press communication and interest of all spectators are important for us.
I would like to mention that all the games will be also checked live with the system of Professor Rigence, which belongs to FIDE. If there is a very-very strong indication that someone is playing much above his level than the Chief Arbiter of the Olympiad will be informed about it in order to have special check in.
To summarize everything what you have said before, can we make a conclusion that FIDE and Organizers are ready to fight against any cheater and can we say that the players and their coaches can sleep peacefully before and during the Olympiad?
Yes, we are ready! I don’t mean that nobody is going to cheat. Who knows. We can compare our situation with athletics and doping control, where they have the war of labs. Maybe the cheaters are smarter than we are, maybe the cheaters are more advanced than we are. I hope not and I hope the measures will cover all theoretical cheating possibilities which may arise.
For many years FIDE is controlling the preparation of Olympiads and aiming to get the best conditions for the players. How difficult is it for the organizers to reach the highest standards?
There were some Olympiads where the level of hotels and other conditions were not really great. We have to realize that sometimes we go to better places, sometimes we have worse conditions. In any case we have to respect the efforts of organizers. Of course, we are trying to demand and to achieve the best possible conditions in every Olympiad. We are working on this and I believe we achieved quite good conditions in most of the Olympiads.
Which Olympiad left a special memory in your heart and why?
I played in one Olympiad (Siegen, 1970) where Fisher and Spasskiy were playing but for me the very special Olympiads were those which I was involved deeply in the organization. It was Elista 1998 and I helped to organize the event with almost zero infrastructure there and, as a result of our efforts, it was a great and memorable Olympiad. It was also Khanty-Mansiysk 2010 and many people believe it was the best Olympiad in a new era. I'm glad that we are going to have another Olympiad in 2020 in Khanty-Mansiysk.
I'm also deeply involved in the organization in Baku and I can predict they will also have a great Olympiad because Baku has all necessary conditions to do so – great hotels, great venue, great team and I believe that everyone will enjoy Baku very much.