Banned former grand master Igors Rausis had a mess on his hands after being busted cheating on the toilet last year — and the stains have remained.
The 59-year-old was this week busted again trying to compete under a secret identity while still serving his six-year ban.
Rausis was in 2019 exiled from all FIDE chess tournaments and stripped of his grand master title after he was photographed sitting on a toilet, looking at a mobile phone, during a break in the middle of a competition.
Phones are banned at tournaments, because chess software can be used to help players gain an advantage; some tournaments require players to pass through metal detectors.
“Igor Rausis caught red-handed at a tournament in Strasbourg,” World Chess Federation director Emil Sutovsky wrote on Facebook at the time, adding that the Latvian-Czech player was “long suspected” of cheating.
He is now at the centre of another chess storm after he was sprung competing under a new identity at a tournament in Valka, Latvia, with reports claiming he changed his name after last year’s fiasco.
However, chess.com now reports a rival grand master identified Igors at the competition and alerted tournament officials.
However, the event, which included a rapid tournament and a blitz tournament, was not an official FIDE event, clouding the issue of Rausis’ participation.
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Officials failed to secure official FIDE tournament status because the event only featured 37 players and had a total prize pool of 1000 euros ($1630).
The report claims Rausis was accused of further trying to conceal his true identity by wearing a face mask as some of his fellow competitors also did in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, rival grand master Arturs Neiksans spotted Rausis at a nearby table at the event and pushed for his immediate disqualification, launching an official protest.
The information was passed up the chain of command to officials back in Riga, before it was ruled that Rausis was free to play in the tournament because it was not an official FIDE event.
However, with the situation at boiling point, Rausis eventually agreed to withdraw in the middle of the tournament after reportedly being asked to leave.
Neiksans, however, took further action by publicly calling for FIDE to come over the top and force tournament officials to change their decision.
In a Facebook post that called out FIDE, Neiksans wrote competitors were left “furious” because Rausis’ involvement stained the tournament which was being staged to honour chess coach Vsevolods Dudzinskis, who died earlier this year.
“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.
“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 organizer, unclear how to solve the incident, decided to call one of the main arbiters in Latvia, for an advice. And the advice from the nation wide recognized arbiter was – it is legal for Rausis to play!
“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.
“I wonder what FIDE would have to say in this matter?”
FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky eventually responded on Twitter, suggesting the event should have banned Rausis despite not having any jurisdiction to do so.
“To everyone making a fuss of Rausis playing under different ID: This was NOT a FIDE-rated event,” he posted.
“So, technically we can not forbid him play in some private, non-rated event. However, I’d expect the organizers of such tournaments to treat it according to the spirit of a decision.”
Rausis said simply he did not attempt to cause any offence and had checked to clarify his eligibility before officially entering the tournament.
He also denied attempting to conceal his true 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.”