Sports Outside the Beltway

Chess GM Vassily Ivanchuk refuses to take drug test

As a result, the Ukranian born player can be barred from competitive play for two years. From Der Spiegel-

Who knows what was going through Ivanchuk’s head when, on Nov. 25 in Dresden, the last day of the Chess Olympiad, he lost to Gata Kamsky? What we do know, however, is that when the game against the American ended, a judge asked Ivanchuk to submit to a drug test. Instead, he stormed out of the room in the conference center, kicked a concrete pillar in the lobby, pounded a countertop in the cafeteria with his fists and then vanished into the coatroom. Throughout this performance, he was followed by a handful of officials.

No one could convince Ivanchuk to provide a small amount of urine for the test. And because refusal is treated as a positive test result, he is now considered guilty of doping and could be barred from professional chess for two years.

The incident in Dresden and the possibility of a professional ban for Ivanchuk has caused outrage in the chess world. The players, who fraternize with one another, say that accusing one of them of doping is an insult to their honor and intelligence. Letters of protest were issued, and players are accusing bureaucrats in the world of championship chess of destroying the game, because, as they insist everyone should know, doping provides no benefits in chess.

As a fellow player of the game who once got to the master rating of 2246, I know how many eccentric people there are playing chess. A chessplayer is on their own when playing against someone else. A silent battle of wits, one where a player has to keep many emotions bottled up. With that, a person will also have a inner fight with whatever demons there are, imagined or not, in their lives. Many of the greatest chessplayers were not very well balanced individuals when outside the game. Bobby Fischer’s quirks are legendary but there has been other players fighting mental illness. IM Raymond Weinstein who has spent the last 44 years in a psychiatric hospital after murdering a man. Former US Junior Champion Peter Winston, who disappeared in 1978 never to be seen again, was another one. Brilliant but crazy, is a description often made of chessplayers.

I don’t know if Ivanchuk was using banned substances or not. All I know is that by walking out he has forced most of the chess community to conclude he did.

Hat tip- Don Surber

Related Stories:
Recent Stories:

Chess player and former psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer has written articles over the years about the eccentricities of chess players, including how you wouldn’t want the ruler of your country to be a grandmaster.

Posted by soccer dad | December 15, 2008 | 12:49 pm | Permalink

RSS feed for these comments.

Comments are Closed


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.