The event had a total prize fund of $358,000, and the two players were accused of surreptitiously receiving assistance from computers. One, who was one of the lowest-ranked players in the main tournament, was confronted after he had beaten a string of much stronger players. He fled to a bathroom stall, where he spent 45 minutes. After that no communications device was found, but the player was watched carefully during the rest of the tournament. He lost the rest of his games quickly. GM Larry Christiansen later ran the moves of one of the games, a black win against GM Ilia Smirin, rated 2659, through the program Shredder and found that the last 25 moves matched those played by the program.
The second case involved a player named Steve Rosenberg, who was playing in a lower section and was leading before the final round. A victory would have been worth about $18,000. He was confronted by a tournament director and found to be using a wireless transmitter and receiver called a "Phonito". He was disqualified from the event. In our report we drew information from an article that had appeared in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. It turns out that some of the details reported there were not completely accurate. The tournament director who detected the cheating, Michael Atkins of Virginia, sent us the following description of the events.
Your article was not completely accurate, because it got some of its information from the New York Times article, which posted an inaccurate chain of events. I was the chief TD of the U-2000 section, I took the device from the player, investigated it, and forfeited him.
Before I describe the situation I would like to note that in Steve Rosenberg's previous three tournaments in the US he had scored 18-0 in class sections. Either he had made dramatic progress or, more likely, he had perfected his cheating technique. Naturally I can't swear to that, but who goes 18-0 in three tournaments, especially at the erratic class level?
The actual and correct sequence at the World Open in Philadelphia was as follows:
Atkins adds that the matter has been submitted to the US Chess Federation Ethics Committee as a formal complaint. He wonders if we will eventually have to do what airports in the US are doing, and run everyone though metal detectors and x-ray machines prior to entering the tournament hall. Or use systems that block cell phone and other wireless transmissions.
We also received a message from one of Rosenberg's opponents:
I played Steve Rosenberg in the first round of the World Open. After hearing about the New York Times article concerning the cheating scandal I analyzed my game with Fritz9. The game was 29 moves long. On move one (d4) was the choice #2 in the opening book (e4 being #1). On move 3, Rosenberg chose the #2 choice also (but, of course, GMs frequently choose variations).
But now get this: every other move of the game was a #1 choice of Fritz! I have analyzed games by World Champions and haven't ever seen that before! Rosenberg was clearly making computer moves! On move 20, oddly, he made what initially appears to be one of the worst moves possible (#36 out of 43 choices). But if you let Fritz think for 3-4 minutes, it too becomes a #1 choice! Here's the game:
Steve Rosenberg (1974) - Mike Henebry (1892) [A31]
You might want to retrieve the games from Rosenberg's other World Open victims. If they also turn out to be #1 choices by Fritz then I think you only have three possible explanations: that Fritz should be rated 1974, like Rosenberg; or that Rosenberg should be rated higher than any previous World Champion; or that he was cheating. Even the O.J. Simpson's jury shouldn't have much trouble figuring this one out!