Sunday, December 26, 2010

The curious case of Alexandru Crisan

Recently I was reminded of this hilarious case when browsing through an old issue of New In Chess Magazine (98/1). In this issue, Grandmaster Michal Krasenkow wrote:

....On the other hand, some of the names present in the list just bewilder. First of all, we see a  new top player with an amazing 2635 rating Alexandru Crisan. One can hardly find any games of this guy in databases since 1989 (has rating of 1.1.1990 was 2235).
I have taken the trouble to look at his recent results (thanks to the Internet rating database). These are near-100% scores in some Romanian tournaments one has never heard about
Remarkably this guy had falsified tournament reports to propel himself to 33rd (!!!) in the world with  a 2635 rating and that he did without:

  • Playing any games of note the last 10 years against the top 10 players in the country.
  • Participating in the top group of the National Championship
  • Representing his federation in any Chess Olympiad.
  • Hardly any games in the accessible databases played by Mr. Crisan, or otherwise published.
  • Any result coming from any official or well-established tournament in Romania or other places in the world.
Initially the attention of this matter was brought to FIDE via the Romanian Chess Federation. It pointed out that it had detected irregularities concerning some tournament rating reports. Among other things, the arbiter that was said to be in charged denied having signed these reports....including the eerie "Troeful Sfinx" tournament in 1997 (gimme a break!).

Somehow the Romanian federation was completely changed and all of a sudden they supported Crisan in this matter (really?

Anyway the chessworld suspected something was up as evidenced by the letter from GM Krasenkow in NIC. It was decided that Mr. Crisan was to verify his rating by performing in 3 tournaments selected by FIDE.

Now we come to the funny part as if this isn't hilarious enough already. Crisan did indeed compete in one of those tournaments, the Vidmar Memorial in 2001, held in Slovenia. His result was disastrous 0.5 out of 9.....somehow he managed a draw against Mikhailchisin (who drew all his games!!). The games played were of such low quality that his rating was impossible. His games were even evaluated by GM Azmaiparashvili who said after reviewing them
"For me if I am asked how Mr. Crisan reached his rating of 2600, it is clear to me that it was done in an illegal way."
Lets have a look at one position from the Vidmar Memorial. Our hero Mr. Crisan is black here:

GM Mohr had not managed to outplay Crisan. After all he was 2235 back in 1990 so he should manage at least some draws on that strength. Winning attempts have been exhausted more or less so Mohr played:


Crisan replied


 Now any chess player with elementary knowledge knows the opposition. 57...Rxe3 58.Kxe3 Ke5 is a remarkably easy draw that our hero doesn't go for! Still the position is a dead drawn rook ending with no complications. Black just has to know the Philidor position but our hero somehow managed to lose this ending!! For this I have to give Ra5 a question mark even though it shouldn't change the result.

The follwing I got from here:

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. 

The conclusion of the commitee looking into this was:

The committee hereby recommends to the FIDE Qualification Commission, that:
1) Mr. Alexandru Crisan’s rating be revoked and he shall no longer be listed in the rating list, with the exception of the results obtained in the Vidmar Memorial.
2) Mr. Alexandru Crisan’s titles of International Grandmaster (GM) and International Master (IM) be revoked.
This is signed by Makropoulous and Kutin and contains the analysis by Azmaiparashvili of Mr. Crisan's playing strength.

Despite this if you look up Alexandru Crisan on the FIDE website you get:

Alexandru Crisan, GRANDMASTER!! with a rating of 2588  (2635 minus his great result in Vidmar Memorial 2001!!)

See for yourself:

I said it was a curious case (perhaps as Crisan almost sounds like Kirsan someone is pulling strings??)!!


  1. This is sooooo absurd! Few time ago we had some rummoring about an Indian IM that had fabulous but suspicious results. They was suspecting of computer assistance. Now this case that is evn worse cause put in check romanian federation and players, organizers... And we still plays chess '' the game of kings''?