Scandal in Lampertsheim – cheating in the loo

1/7/2003 – At the Open Tournament in Lampertsheim a player was caught cheating. He was consulting the program Pocket Fritz during the game in the toilet. While we in ChessBase condemn every form of electronic performance enhancement we would like to express our thanks to the player for choosing Pocket Fritz for his devious behaviour. We recommend that the next time he use the new Pocket Fritz 2 and carefully follow the instructions.

In Lampertsheim the arbiter announced the disqualification of a player before round seven. Volker Widmann explained what had happened: "In the sixth round a player came to me and said he suspected his opponent, W.S. from L., was using illicit aids during the game. He often left the board for protracted periods of time to go to the toilet, even when (especially when) it was his turn to play. He had done this in earlier rounds against other players as well.

I watched W.S. and noticed that he played a number of moves very rapidly and then disappeared in the toilet. I followed him and could hear no sound coming from the stall. I looked under the door and saw that his feet were pointing sideways, so that he could not have been using the toilet. So I entered the neigbouring stall, stood on the toilet bowl and looked over the dividing wall. I saw W.S. standing there with a handheld PC which displayed a running chess program. He was using a stylus to operate it.

I immediately disqualified the player. When confronted he claimed that he was only checking his emails, so I asked him to show me the computer, which he refused to do. There are witnesses for my investigation in the toilet, and we will ask the chess federation of our state to ban the player from playing in other tournaments."

A full report on the Lamprechtsheim Open with games and tables is available at

Editorial comment

Many great ideas in the history of mankind were born in the shower. Or in the toilet. But computer-assisted ideas during chess tournaments are frowned upon. It is immoral and unethical to use our hand-held program to find a refutation to the combination your opponent has just played. It is even more dishonourable to use the little device to consult the giant online database that is maintained by ChessBase in Hamburg and contains over two million games. Or the truly gigantic online openings tree, where the program gives you full statistics on each move. That is just plain wrong!

However, if in spite of our admonitions anyone should decide to actually use Pocket Fritz to enhance his performance, the least he or she can do is to avoid getting caught. The manual clearly give instructions on how to do this. We bring you a summary extract with pictures taken by our German ChessBase colleagues.

Now this is the wrong way of going about it. Obviously the cheat has not protected himself from the prying eyes of arbiters who may look over the top of the stall.

This is much better. The use of an umbrella is highly recommended, but the cheat is still getting it wrong: the pocket PC screen is visible to an arbiter looking into the stall from above.

Correct! The arbiter will simply assume that the player is protecting himself from an unexpected downpour of rain.

Note that you should restrict your visits to the toilet to three or four during a game. Going to the loo after every single move will doubtless raise suspicion, and the arbiter may in fact demand that you do not take the umbrella with you the next time.

In order to conceal your Pocket Fritz during a chess game third party vendors have come up with some interesting solutions. We have tested the elegant winter hat shown in the above picture and are able to confirm that it completely conceals a Pocket PC with the program installed on it.

With this hat and an umbrella nobody will look twice when you slip into the toilet to check the position with your Pocket Fritz.

André Schulz/8.1.2003


Soon after publishing the above article we received the following missive from David Levy, the President of the International Computer Games Association (ICGA), one of the sanctioning bodies of the Kasparov vs Deep Junior match.

David writes:

No need to visit the toilet! I suggest that Chessbase should start a new service to modify fillings in teeth to receive sound signals. You will recall that Fischer had all his fillings removed because he knew the Russians were beaming waves at him through his teeth. Presumably they were advising him to play weak moves.

There would be an inital dental charge and then a monthly subscription. The amount of the subscription would depend on whether a player wanted to receive only the best moves, or the moves and current score for the position, or some other service such as all the openings data for the opponent from the current position. The subscription could also vary according to the current ranking of the program being accessed.

Revenue streams would be:

  1. Commission on the dental fees.
  2. Subscription income for receipt of moves etc.
  3. A percentage of prize money won.
  4. Bonus payments when a subscriber gets the FM, IM or GM title (etc.)

For suggesting the idea I should receive 5% of Chessbase's net income from the scheme. Please ask your patent agent to resigister this idea. I suggest we launch the service in New York later this month – they have plenty of dentists there.

Nice one, Centurion

From Vishy Anand we received the following short email: "Great article on Alwermann II. Nice one centurion, liked it."

For the uninitiated: Alwermann was a German chess player who was caught some years ago getting moves via radio transmission from Fritz. He won a GM tournament in that way. The centurion is from the Life of Brian, where an ancient prisoner named Ben has deep admiration for his Roman captors. The scene ends with this exchange:

Centurion: Pilate wants to see you!
Brian: Pilate? What does he want to see me for?
Centurion: I think he wants to know which way up you want to be crucified.
Ben: Oh, ha ha ha haa! Ha haa! Nice one, Centurion. Like it. Like it.
Centurion: Shut up!
Ben: Right. Right. (Reverentially) Terrific race, the Romans. Terrific.

Here's a transcript of the whole scene.

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