23 November 2009

The Dorfman Affair

The Vladimirov Affair wasn't the only example of skulduggery during the Kasparov - Karpov matches. From the Chessgames.com page on Josif D Dorfman, here is a copy of an article by Bernard Cafferty, BCM, October 1993 [my comments in brackets are based on the two page article in Europe Echecs (September 1993, p.14), referenced by Cafferty]:

Dorfman in the Toils: Iosif Dorfman was the principal target of a very long accusatory article 'Chess in the Toils of Spying' which appeared in issue 28 [July 1993, written by Vitaly Melik-Karamov] of the Russian popular weekly Ogonyok [sometimes written Ogoniuk or Ogonek]. The allegation was strongly made by a former KGB employee from Azerbaidjan [Victor Litvinov] and by an associate of Kasparov [apparently his mother] that considerable leakage of information had taken place in the various matches between Kasparov and Karpov.

Dorfman, the article claims, had been approached in 1984 by an intermediary who had spun the yarn that he had contacts with a betting ring which could make big money if it knew such things as choice of openings, which sealed move had been made... At one stage the Ukrainian GM was promised a flat in Moscow within two days (a great prize, hardly attainable so quickly by senior figures) as well as a huge sum in roubles and foreign currency. Dorfman's rebuttal in the September issue of Europe Echecs does not contain a formal denial, merely a comment that no proof is given for the allegations. The Ukrainian, who now lives in Cannes, speculated that the article was to counter a comment he made that Etienne Bacrot played better at the age of ten than Kasparov did at 13.

It could also be a belated attempt at explaining why Kasparov had fallen 5-0 behind in the first match, or a riposte to Dorfman who might be suspected of feeding information to Fischer to support the American's project to write a book proving all the K-K matches had 'fixed' games. Dorfman was able to quote Clara Kasparov in the Ogonyok article to the effect that the second match was 'straight' as compared to the others. Asked about the article, Kasparov was quoted as confirming it as all correct. Karpov refused to comment other than that he would respond later.

The accusations against Dorfman were based on events around the early games of the first match, the 48 game affair played in 1984-85 that was finally annulled by FIDE President Campomanes.

Kasparov discussed the affair in a Chesscafe.com Interview With Garry Kasparov by Hanon W. Russell, which centered on the recently published 'Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part 2, Kasparov vs. Karpov, 1975-1985':

On Monday, September 29, 2008, accompanied by Mark Donlan, we had the opportunity to interview Kasparov. In discussing his new book, Garry was candid about the sometimes painful lessons he learned from his first two matches with Anatoly Karpov, and how these lessons helped transform him into the person he is today.

Kasparov: 'I'm not paranoid'.

HR: The openings -- what information was given to Karpov about your opening preparation?

GK: We assumed that there was the regular recording of the information that was available in our rooms. That some of the staff there -- the maids -- were working for the KGB, which is normal behavior in Russia. Today some people say Garry Kasparov was paranoid. I'm not paranoid; I'm just giving you the harsh realities of the Soviet Union, which unfortunately are resurrected in modern Russia as well. They were doing their regular search and I'm sure the information landed in the hands of people who passed it to Karpov. But also the story about Dorfman's being part of this betting line and offering inside information. It was clear that in game eleven Karpov decided to avoid the Grünfeld by playing Nf3, which had no other explanation unless he knew...

HR: You think Dorfman passed information?

GK: He was playing this betting line. He confessed later that he was offered nice conditions at the betting line, and he was participating, and in game eleven he said the dark-squared bishop would be fianchettoed -- and Karpov played Nf3. There's only one explanation for a professional player.

HR: He knew what was going to happen.

GK: To make sure whether it was Grünfeld or not. If I want to play Tarrasch, Nf3 doesn't make any difference.

HR: On page 95, in the notes to the seventh game, after 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5, you write
"the time was spent hesitating, even though I had decided beforehand to play the Tarrasch Defence. Of course, Karpov was expecting this system: both in Niksic (1983) and in the Candidates matches (1983-84) I employed it with great success. In addition, as it later transpired, from the 1st to the 11th game one of my helpers, Iossif Dorfman, secretly played on the match totaliser, and before the 7th game he bet that in reply to 1 d4 it would be a Tarrasch Defense, but the totaliser was run by a man who was close to the Karpov camp..."
This paragraph by itself is very confusing to someone who doesn't have any information, so please explain what is the totaliser?

GK: There are many betting lines no matter what you do. There was a betting line on the openings, on the sealed moves, and Dorfman participated. He provided vital inside information.

HR: So what you mean is that in the seventh game of the match, he put his money on your playing the Tarrasch?

GK: Yes. Which, by the way, was not a big deal; Karpov could have anticipated the Tarrasch. It helps when you know the openings, but still there was an eighty percent probability that I would play the Tarrasch if I faced 1 d4. Actually, we prepared well. In game seven I had a very good position; we had an excellent opening novelty and I used it, but I spent too much time. After this horrible defeat in game six, my confidence was shattered. The problem is not game seven, the problems occurred later, especially game eleven, and other games where I assumed Karpov had very specific knowledge of the ideas. But that's not what happened in 1986 [the Vladimirov affair?]. In 1984-85 there was a general knowledge, but there was no access to my notebooks. After game eleven Dorfman stopped, because he recognized that it was a trap. He went to play the Soviet Championship, the first league, and he came back after game thirty-two.

Dorfman's transgressions, imagined or otherwise, must not have been too serious. He also served on Kasparov's team for the 1985 Moscow, 1986 London - Leningrad, and 1987 Seville matches.

1 comment:

xplor said...

totaliser - computer that registers bets and divides the total amount bet among those who won