Cheating in Chess?
In the last couple of weeks the world of Chess has been rocked by a number of cheating allegations. A complaint was made against Gaioz Nigalidze in the sixth round at the Dubai Open while he was playing Tigran Petrosian.
Petrosian became suspicious after noticing that Nigalidze was visiting the bathroom at regular intervals, headed to the same cubicle and staying for over ten minutes at a time. When the player returned from the toilet, officials discovered a smartphone hid in the bin.
“He denied it was his, but it was logged into his Facebook page and there was a chess program running on it, showing his positions,” the tournament director Yahya Mohamed Salehtold told reporters.
Of course even with the amount of evidence we need to wait to see if he is found guilty before confirming he is cheating. Interestingly, The Telegraphy published an article about Smart Phone cheating on 21st March, this can be found here.
During the US Chess Championship Wesley So, the World number 8, was forfeited by the arbiter for writing notes during his game against Varuzhan Akobian. So had been writing motivational messages to himself on his score sheet in earlier rounds and twice been warned not to by the arbiter. It is not believed that what he was writing down was anything which was going to give him an advantage.
It seems like the incident was caused, in part to some family issues he is currently having and he did come back to finish 3rd with 6.5/11.
In my opinion the two events are not similar as one was an intentional while the other was a mistake.
But cheating in Chess isn’t a new problem, in the 18th century “The Turk” took the world by storm. It was an automated Chess Player which beat many chess players and celebrities of the time including Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. It appeared to work using clockwork but in fact had a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. It toured for over 50 years before it was exposed as a hoax.
Famously, Bobby Fischer publicly alleged that the Soviets had colluded to prevent any non-Soviet from winning the Candidates Tournament of 1962. He claimed that Petrosian (not the same person), Keres and Geller had pre-arranged to draw all their games. This claim does hold some validity as all 12 games between the 3 of them ended in a draw, often very early in the game. Still even now there is no proof that this collusion happened.
During the 1972 World Championship both sides made accusations about the other side cheating. The Icelandic police had to swept the tournament hall of electronic devices and found two dead flies in the lighting system.
As technology has increased some players have found interesting ways to use it to their advantage. Reports of players receiving texts with the moves to play, tiny ear plugs with someone saying what to play and players using smart phones have all been noted and some players have been given lengthy bans and fines.
I don’t think this is common in most tournaments but players maybe more inclined to cheat where money is involved. The Oxford Leagues doesn’t have any prize money and even though we have had a couple of some unsavory moments, as far as I am aware no one was been found guilty of cheating.