Fair Play at MSO and Othello Disqualification

On Saturday the 8th of August, at the conclusion of the Othello tournament, the Mind Sports Olympiad fielded allegations of outside assistance levelled at Vasyl “vasraz” Razinkov.

It has always been important to us to maintain the highest standards of honest competition, and so we began an investigation. The initial allegations were raised primarily due to two considerations: the first, that Mr. Razinkov had managed an extraordinarily high level of accuracy across all of his played games against a world-caliber field, and second that he had done this without any significant over the board history, or in-person interaction with top players.

As our investigation continued, we sought the analysis of a number of internationally ranked Othello experts, who were uninvolved with the gameplay or organisation of this tournament. We asked these experts to examine the games played by Mr Razinkov. Here are the conclusions that they provided:

  • Many of Mr. Razinkov’s move choices were the top moves suggested by a particular Othello engine named ‘Reversatile’.
  • The timings of moves played was odd. Many simpler moves taking up considerable time, with more complex and subtle moves being played with almost no deliberation.
  • The small number of inaccuracies played were more akin to ‘misclicks’, than mistakes that a player of this demonstrated aptitude should make.
  • These factors, taken together with Mr Razinkov’s lack of previous game history, lead to the recommendation that there is a high possibility outside assistance was used.

In order to provide Mr Razinkov the opportunity to demonstrate his capacity and refute these allegations, we invited him to provide us with game histories, as well as to meet with an independently appointed Othello expert to talk and play through a small number of games. Mr Razinkov declined this offer multiple times. Initially he cited time constraints (despite having registered for a number of other tournaments within the MSO schedule, and despite our having offered many variable timing options) but eventually he declined to engage in any further discussions concerning the allegations at any time.

The confluence of facts derived from our investigation leads us to conclude that Mr Razinkov derived an unfair advantage in the MSO Othello tournament through outside assistance, most likely through the use of a computer engine.

This is in direct contravention of our terms and conditions, which Mr Razinkov agreed to upon registration.

The Mind Sports Olympiad has a hard earned reputation for fairness and integrity at the highest level. Outside assistance will not be tolerated and we feel that the evidence before us indicates that this is a particularly egregious instance justifying both sanction and the publication of those sanctions. In order to maintain its reputation in the games community the Mind Sports Olympiad has therefore decided to enact the following sanctions:

  1. Disqualification without prize from the MSO Othello Tournament played on Saturday the 8th of August.
  2. Disqualification without prize for all events Mr Razinkov participated in for 2020, and a redistribution of placement in all such events such that Mr Razinkov’s position will be listed as last.
  3. Prohibition from registering for and competing in all Mind Sports Olympiad events from now until December 31, 2030.

In addition to these sanctions, we will be referring this matter and our findings to the following Othello associations, who may choose to enact their own sanctions independently:

BRITISH OTHELLO FEDERATION

http://britishothello.org/

FRENCH OTHELLO FEDERATION

https://www.ffothello.org/

ITALIAN OTHELLO FEDERATION

http://www.fngo.it/

WORLD OTHELLO FEDERATION

https://www.worldothello.org/

Etan Ilfeld

CEO of the Mind Sports Olympiad