FIDE Ethics Committee slams ICGA board as incompetent amateurs

FIDE complaint

On August 31, 2012 Vasik Rajlich author of Rybka filed a complaint to the Ethics Commission.

The sole focus of the complaint concerns the ethical standards of the ICGA process that led to the lifetime ban of IM Vasik Rajlich from ICGA events and the willful besmirching of his reputation.

IM Vasik Rajlich is a FIDE member and has been damaged and unfairly treated by an organization that is affiliated with FIDE.

This complaint contends that the ICGA or its appointees have breached several articles of the FIDE Code of Ethics, specifically:

2.2.2 – Office bearers who through their behavior no longer inspire the necessary confidence or have in other ways become unworthy of trust.

2.2.3 – Organizers, tournament directors, arbiters or other officials who fail to perform their functions in an impartial and responsible manner.

2.2.4 – Failure to comply with normally accepted standards of courtesy and chess etiquette. Misbehavior of a personal nature which is generally unacceptable by normal social standards.

2.2.9 – Players or members of their delegations must not make unjustified accusations toward other players, officials or sponsors. All protests must be referred directly to the arbiter or the Technical Director of the tournament.

2.2.10 – In addition, disciplinary action in accordance with this Code of Ethics will be taken in cases of occurrences which cause the game of chess, FIDE or its federations to appear in an unjustifiable unfavorable light and in this way damage its reputation.

Anyone acting in contravention of this code can be excluded from participation in all FIDE tournaments or from specific types of tournaments for a period of up to 3 years. Weight shall be given to the type of violation and to any previous violations in decided upon the length of the exclusion period.


View / Download the complaint to FIDE.

The FIDE ruling

The verdict came in a 17 page long PDF with (according to Dr. Levy) the following (external) confidentiality note from FIDE.

Certainly the outcome of the matter (as distinct from the detailed reasoning) is then a matter of public record even if the outcome would only be formally reported to the Executive Board or General Assembly once a year and the FIDE website would be updated from time to time. The Ethics Commission has no objection if the ruling is announced or even discussed publicly once released to the parties, but asks that a measure of confidentiality still be maintained on the basis that a copy of the judgment be distributed only to parties with an interest in the matter and not generally, and that the judgment not be published in its entirety on another body’s website for consumption of all and sundry.

While we have received no such limitation from FIDE and see opposite evidence of published FIDE rulings all over the Internet (and on main chess sites) we (for the moment) will comply to above and limit ourselves to a couple of quotes from the 17 page document.

FIDE Ethics Committee slams ICGA board as incompetent amateurs, ignorant of the law and breaching Vas Rajlich’s rights to a fair hearing. ICGA convicted of bringing FIDE into disrepute and requested to make amends and alter its statutes and procedures.


Chairman Mr. Roberto Rivello of the FIDE Ethic Commission

Jurist and Judge in Italy with jurisdiction on criminal cases

Professor of International Law and International Organization at the University of Turin


In occasion of the oral hearing in front of the EC, Mr Levy confirmed that ICGA has no rules on these issues.

However, in the documents submitted by the parties, quite strong and specific words were used, such as “tribunal”, “innocence”, “guilty” and “verdict”.

In an article written by Mr Levy (together with Mr H.J. van den Herik, Mr A.Plaat and Mr D. Dimov) and submitted to the EC by the ICGA, the proceedings against Mr Rajlich are defined as follows: “The investigation, the report of the investigation, and the verdict that Rajlich was guilty of the plagiarism took place in the form of a version of Crowdsourced Online Dispute Resolution (CODR)”.

In another ICGA’s publication, the words “peer review” were used.

It seems clear that all these words and definitions do not correspond to their technical meaning. They have been used by analogy by persons who are not experts in law.


Members of the ICGA’s Executive Committee ignored they had to respect specific rules if they intended to carry out disciplinary proceedings against Mr Rajlich. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially for persons charged of main responsibilities in a given organisation: they had and will have the duty to apply FIDE and national mandatory rules. However, they were not jurists and they were convinced to act in the best interest of their organisation.


In addition, Mr Rajlich was not informed about the existence of real disciplinary proceedings against him nor about the risk to be sanctioned this way. He was informed, and in a very informal way, only about the proceedings concerning “Tournament rule 2” and it is clear –from the exchange of messages between him and Mr Levy- that he was not fully acquainted with the possible multifaceted nature of the proceedings and his right to be heard. One person who is informed that his behaviour could be qualified as a cheating and sanctioned with a lifetime ban is likely to assume different decisions about his defence, in comparison to a person who just know about the risk to be disqualified from a tournament.


The EC unanimously rules that:

– Otherwise, by imposing a lifetime ban as a sanction against Mr Rajlich, in absence of a clear statutory basis and without sufficient procedural guarantees for Mr Rajlich, the ICGA did not act in accordance with FIDE rules, this way violating par. 2.2 and 2.2.10 of the FIDE Code of Ethics.

– ICGA has to be sanctioned with a warning and has to be invited to modify their statutes in accordance with FIDE principles and rules.



Approved members may mail or PM me for the full 17 page FIDE document.



News letter Rybka affair (2013)

October 17, 2013

Hello former and current chess programmer friends (and addicts)

Thank you for your subscription to this (Rybka) newsletter.

I can be short to those of you who have followed this case as most is listed in the left column of this page starting with the Introduction.

For those who are (relative) new to the Rybka-ICGA controversy a summarize.

FIDE complaint.

In August 2012 Rajlich filed a complaint to the FIDE Ethics Commission. The EC recently during the FIDE congress in Tallinn (Estonia) has made a decision and we are awaiting the ruling.

Case 2/2012: “Rybka and ICGA” (complaint by Mr Vas Rajlich and Mr Chris Whittington against the International Computer Games Association (“ICGA”)) Procedural decision (preliminary request of additional information). The FIDE Secretariat will communicate the decision to the complainants.

Note that the FIDE complaint is not about the technical evidence against Rajlich, it’s about he numerous procedural breaches of the ICGA being an affiliated organization of FIDE and as such has to treat its members following the Ethics of FIDE.

To give an indication of the ICGA breaches consider a recent article on ChessVibes.

The denial of appeal.

Recently Rajlich was denied an appeal. You can read the related email correspondence here. We think the ICGA has been very unreasonable and as such we opened a programmer poll.

Update of the contra evidence [ 1 ]  [ 2 ]

While this is an extremely long read (especially Chapter I) which may steal days from your spare time I can recommend to read only the new stuff in the Introduction, Chapter V and Chapter VI as they are the more easy reads also.

That’s it for now.