Under the headline "‘Outside’ help lands chess player in trouble" the story was broken by Rakesh Rao, permanent sports and chess reporter for one of India's most prestigious newspapers. He decries cheating in chess, which is "rampant with mobile technology increasingly playing a role, and lesser-rated players taking ‘outside’ help during a game."
Rakesh tells the story of the latest episode, that comes just two weeks after a player was caught using his smartphone, which was hidden in a toilet cubicle during the Dubai Open, to enhance the quality of his moves. The player, Gaioz Nigalidze, was a grandmaster who had sensationally won the Georgian Championship twice in a row. The player who was caught during the fifth round of the inaugural Dr. Hedgewar Open Chess Tournament in New Delhi, was rated 1517, but he outplayed GM Praveen Thipsay, who is almost 900 points higher on the Elo scale.
The player who outplayed the GM in 87 moves was 19-year-old Dhruv Kakkar. Long before the game ended his opponent had complained to chief arbiter. "I noticed that he was taking around two minutes for every move, whether it was a complex move or a simple piece-capture with a pawn," Thipsay told The Hindu. "I expressed my doubts to the chief arbiter, who asked me to continue. By the 29th move, I was clearly lost and chose to offer a draw. He promptly declined the offer. My doubts stood confirmed when he missed simple winning lines, as though he waited for a confirmation from someone. At times I thought he misheard the move and played incorrectly.”
After the GM had finally resigned the game Kakkar was whisked
away to the tournament office and frisked.
There it was discovered that the 1517 player was wearing not just one ...
... but two Android phones taped to his body.
In addition it was discovered that neatly tucked away around his waist ...
Kakkar had a pouch, strapped to his belt, two nine-volt batteries.
The batteries were connected to a loop of wire around his neck, hidden under the shirt. They were also connected to the phones strapped to each foot, just above the ankle. The player also carried two spare batteries in his bag, presumably for the next round.
Finally the inspectors found a micro-speaker tucked in Kakkar's left ear. This allowed him listen to the moves dictated by his friend Shubham, who sat before a computer using chess software Fritz, around 220 km away at Yamuna Nagar in Haryana.
Dhruv Kakkar, a second year engineering student in Electronics from JMIT in Yamuna Nagar, confessed to cheating in a written letter. He admitted to The Hindu that he used the contraption to win the first four rounds (against players rated 0, 1913, 2104, and 2258).
"I made this device and practised with my friend for three days before using it in this event" he said. Apparently his collaborator would dictate possible moves made by my opponent and Lallar would tap his foot when the correct move by Thipsay came up. Fritz would then calculate a reply, which Shubham would read out and Kakkar would play.
The full equipment found on the chess cheat
The Chief Arbiter, Dharmendra Kumar, immediately expelled Kakkar from the tournament. The two conspirators were made to answer questions on Thursday, after Shubham travelled from Yamuna Nagar to the National Capital, which is 220 kilometers away. In the presence of Organizing Secretary R. S. Tiwari and Secretary of the Delhi Chess Association A. K. Verma, both Dhruv and Shubham admitted to cheating. The two were later allowed to leave for Yamuna Nagar.
The Chief Arbiter said he would send a detailed report, photographs and the components used by the player to cheat, to the AICF for further action. The AICF is expected to apprise the FIDE on the subject. The prize fund of the Hedgeware Open was 1,000,000 Rupees.
All pictures by Dharmendra Kumar
All material for this article was provided by Rakesh Rao, Senior Assitant Editor of The Hindu. Rakesh is a fairly strong player – in August last year he won the Press Club of India Annual Chess tournament with a record 5.0/5 score. Rakesh is a good friend and has contrbuted articles and material to our newspage in the past. Here two examples:
10/25/2007 – Anand in the news: Time, Sportstar and other stories
Having regained the World Championship title, Anand is currently on a “vacation” in India, where he is being "felicitated" and showered with gifts. Time for the game’s finest ambassador to reflect on what chess has given him, and how it can be promoted as a spectator sport. And to reveal details on the strategies that led to his dramatic success. We have links and excerpts.
11/7/2008 – Master of the Universe, Lord of the Rings
What does the name "Viswanathan" mean? The original Sanskrit translates to "Master" (nath) "of the Universe" (vishwa). Anand himself somewhat flippantly tells us it means "Lord of the Rings". The Indian magazine Sportstar chose the former translation for the title page of its latest issue, which devotes a cover story and an indepth interview to the Indian World Champion. Long interesting read.