10 February 2021

Another Azmai Controversy?

One of the events on my page (C17) Zonals 1995-1997 is '1.2b Struga (Macedonia) 1995-03', with a clipping attributed to 'Europe Echecs, 1995-09, p.50'. A note under the entry says,
EK: Europe Echecs wonders why Azmaiparashvili played in this zone. He was representing Bosnia & Hercegovina at that time, which can be seen from the rating lists of that time. So he was in the right zone after all.

My reaction when I first copied the comment to that page was 'Oh, OK', and I've since re-read it many times without giving it a second thought. On the latest reading it occurred to me that in 1995, Bosnia was in the middle of a civil war. This is confirmed by Wikipedia's page Bosnian War that says,

The Bosnian War was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. The war is commonly seen as having started on 6 April 1992, following a number of violent incidents earlier in the year. The war ended on 14 December 1995.

Did GM Azmaiparashvili really change his nationality to a country involved in a civil war? It happens that there is another page on the web Zonal 1.2b, Struga 1995 (olimpbase.org), with a full crosstable of the event. That OlimpBase page lists three participants under the Bosnian flag:-

  • GM Azmaiparashvili, Zurab
  • GM Kurajica, Bojan
  • GM Dizdarevic, Emir

The three GMs finished 1st, 3rd, and 5-7th, respectively. To verify the EK explanation, I turned to my rating database and queried the three Bosnian participants for four consecutive years. The following image shows what I found.

I have one rating list per year, dated 1 January each year. My public page, FIDE historical ratings, points to one more file that is not in my database, 1995-07.ZIP, for ratings dated 1 July 1995. It also lists GM Azmaiparashvili's nationality as GEO (Georgia). On its own Elo lists, Europe Echecs (EE) had

Jan 1995 • 'Azmaiparachvili GEO 2610' at 44-46th in the world
Jul 1995 • 'Azmaiparachvili BOS 2620', 39-44th in the world.
In other words, EE confirms EK. For 1996, EE had the Georgian GM back in GEO at mid-year.
Feb 1996 • 'Azmaiparachvili BOS 2660' 15-17th in the world
Jul 1996 • 'Azmaiparachvili GEO 2670' 12-15th in the world

Azmaiparashvili's career has been dogged by controversies, including one in 1995. His Wikipedia page, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, says (with references),

Azmaiparashvili was alleged to have rigged the results of the Strumica [Macedonia] tournament of 1995 [month?] to boost his rating.

That particular World Championship cycle was itself controversial. Instead of The Last, Lost Interzonal (February 2012 on this blog), the chess world saw 1997 FIDE Knockout Matches. GM Azmaiparashvili was seeded into the second round and eliminated in the fourth round by GM Krasenkow.


For further investigation:-

  • How was Azmaiparashvili's transfer GEO -> BIH -> GEO handled administratively within FIDE?
  • Why don't the historical rating lists reflect the transfer?
  • How much more than 'Zonal 1.2b, Struga 1995 (olimpbase.org)' is available on Olimpbase?

I doubt the first two questions can be answered so many years after the fact, but the third should be easy.

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