"At great expense to the Hamilton Chess Club management, two strong chess
players were secretly imported from Europe to test the resolve and current skill
level of the Waikato juniors and beginners on 20th Feb.," writes the editor
of the Hamilton Chess Club news
page, somewhat tounge-in-cheek. The organisation, which had run a "Rookies
Shield" (under 1700 rated) event recently in Hamiton, New Zealand, received
prima facie evidence that two of the entrants had provided false names
and both were FIDE rated over 2200. One, a WGM, and her father, rated 2200+,
cleverly kept their relationship, ages (she was over 18) and identities secret
by using false names. Both convincingly blitzed the field of up and coming but
unsuspecting chess enthusiasts. "We all enjoyed the lessons learned –
both on and off the chess board, of honesty and integrity or what happens when
there is a lack of it." The site publishes two pictures of the undercover
chess players, taken at the prize-giving ceremony:
The organiser was subsequently contacted by someone who recognised the two
players, one of them is FIDE titled player at the highest level. A felony and
scandal? Before people get too worked up here's what the organiser said: "The
tournament 'damage' was not too great and the financial impact was slight –
the entry fees for them totalled $25, the prize money they won combined to $55.
However, this is (chess) fraud, and so I wanted to bring this to the attention
of the chess community."
As the players had registered on the morning of the event, as allowed for,
they could call themselves whatever and the organisers would have had no way
of verifying their playing strength (no Internet on site). "However, this
is (chess) fraud, and so I wanted to bring this to the attention of the chess
community. In future I will ask for some id before registering a player I do
not know, and especially for those turning up on the day." He goes on to
ask the chess community if others have had a similar experience and what he
should do about this:
- try to gather more evidence?
- name and shame (leaves one open to some libel actio,n however)?
- notify FIDE? (if so, how/who?)
- is there an avenue to report names/photos of suspected chess sharks??
- report them to immigration (they were overseas players)?
He concludes: "It does seem rather bizarre that titled players (on holidays)
would go to these levels just to get a free lunch! But there you have it. Is
this just a scratch on the surface of other frauds being done?!?"
Responses on Chess
Chat (an Australian chess forum):
That's quite something. It possibly seemed like innocent fun to them, but
notifying FIDE would seem to be a fair response. It is cheating and they
should be sanctioned for it.
I would like to point out that two rather strong players (father and WGM
daughter) are known to have been touring Australia recently. Personally
I have no proof that the players in the Hamilton event are the same couple,
but I would advise any tournament organiser in New Zealand to check passports
for any foreign players. If they won't provide passports, then you shouldn't
allow them to play in rating-limited sections. Unless it's under 2400....
We had an interesting pair at MCC some weeks ago... they called themselves
These two tried to do the same thing at the Melbourne Chess Club and were
She is a pretty girl, would be good to have her name published
It might have seemed like good fun when they hatched the plan but when
money changes hand it isn't just a lark, it's fraud and they should be reported.
Disgusting slimy cheats. They should be reported to FIDE, there home federation
and banned from playing in New Zealand again for a long time. Whether NZCF
wants to implement a ban offically or not chess clubs could be warned not
accept their entries.
I've just found my way through to the results of the event and the photos
of the winners. They're the same two players who showed up here in Hobart
club two weeks in a row and said they were going on to NZ. We originally
thought they were Russians, but the guy clearly spoke German, as when I
mentioned that I work on snails it took some time to explain what they were
to him, and then when he realised he said the German word for snail. Seemed
like friendly people; the guy even brought along a bottle of wine and shared
it with me. He was very strong; although I was lucky enough to win three
casual games out of six against him I thought he was probably 2100+. The
girl (who I scored 2/3 against) seemed to me to be about 1700 strength most
of the time, except for when I made a silly mistake in a double rook ending
while three (!) pawns up and she showed exceptional endgame skill over 20+
moves to win the position. The guy then said her endgame was better than
- It was great having them. I hope they come again.
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