Billionaire and celebrities cheat at Charity Simul

by André Schulz
6/16/2021 – Computer cheating in online chess is a real plague. Now an Indian billionaire and two Bollywood celebrities have even cheated when they had the chance to play against Vishy Anand at the online charity simul "Checkmate Covid", an event to help the Indian Red Cross' COVID-19 relief.

Master Class Vol. 12: Viswanathan Anand Master Class Vol. 12: Viswanathan Anand

This DVD allows you to learn from the example of one of the best players in the history of chess and from the explanations of the authors how to successfully organise your games strategically, consequently how to keep your opponent permanently under press


Playing chess is fun, over-the-board or online...well, maybe it is more precise to say that playing chess online could be fun were it not for computer cheating.

The restrictions brought about by the Corona pandemic have popularised online chess. The FIDE, chess federations of a large number of countries and the various online platforms organised numerous events after the lockdowns began. But there were almost always players who thought they had to cheat and who played their games with the help of computers to polish up their otherwise insufficient chess skills. This happened in serious tournaments, in which money or rating was at stake, but this also regularly happens in friendly events in which nothing or just a few rating points are at stake.

Computer cheating is the doping of chess. And just as difficult to prove. In physical sports, the cheaters take drugs and medicines that improve their short term performance, and it took decades for an awareness to develop that doping is unethical and carries great health hazards for the athletes. Today, there are organisations operating worldwide that monitor athletes with the help of doctors and scientists and regularly take blood or urine samples to test for illicit substances – but doping still goes on.

In chess, too, proving cheating is everything but easy, because cheating can usually only be proven indirectly. After all, the player sitting at his computer at home cannot be observed, or at least not completely. There are just some indicators that expose cheaters. But those who are clever enough to conceal their cheating may get through undetected.

However, cheating was and is not limited to online chess. There have been numerous cases of players who were caught using hidden electronic devices in over-the-board tournaments. Unfortunately, one has to assume that a lot of cheaters went undetected.

In online chess, cheating has become a veritable plague and you constantly have to reckon with the possibility that you are playing against a computer. However, when Vishy Anand agreed to take part in an online charity simul on he certainly didn't expect to play against machines. The online simul, titled "Checkmate Covid", was a fundraiser to collect money for the Indian Red Cross and COVID aid. Spectators could donate money and promised to double the amount raised.

On 13 June, Anand played against five Indian celebrities simultaneously - online. The event was streamed live and with commentary.

Anand played, among others, against the Indian entertainer Sudeep, the film producer Nadiadwala and against Nikhil Kamath, Chief Information Officer and co-founder of the financial services company Zerodha and known as "India's youngest billionaire". The quality of the games of these three players were astonishingly good and all three put up great resistance against the former World Champion.

While Nadiadwala and Sudeep eventually slackened in their "skills" and lost in the endgame, Nikhil Kamath outplayed Anand after blundering a pawn on the very first move. However, Anand could still have won the game by flagging his opponent who in the end had only 13 seconds left on the clock but Anand decided to show sportsmanship and resigned.

My Career Vol. 1

The first DVD with videos from Anand's chess career reflects the very beginning of that career and goes as far as 1999. It starts with his memories of how he first learned chess and shows his first great games (including those from the 1984 WCh for juniors). The high point of his early developmental phase was the winning of the 1987 WCh for juniors. After that, things continue in quick succession: the first victories over Kasparov, WCh candidate in both the FIDE and PCA cycles and the high point of the WCh match against Kasparov in 1995.
Running time: 3:48 hours

My Career Vol. 2

Vishy Anand is one of the greatest chess talents of all times. On this DVD he speaks about his career, his views on chess, and presents the most beautiful and interesting games of his career.

Live stream of the event

Of course, Anand knew that the two Bollywood stars and the billionaire had not played the games without help. But he put on a good face though he could not quite hide his disapproval.

Nikhil Kamath eventually apologised for his behaviour.

The game


Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


ChessBase India: Billionaire Nikhil Kamath admits to beating Vishy Anand using unfair means

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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adbennet adbennet 6/19/2021 05:36
Ah yes turok, thank you for educating me. I see what you mean now. It's like they are playing football, and then they trip Anand, but it's for charity so it's okay. Hahaha. Or it's like they are playing poker, and then they look at Anand's cards, but it's for charity so it's okay. As you say it doesn't matter. Or it's like they are running a footrace, and then they take a taxi to the finish, but it's for charity so nobody minds. Like you say it is all good. Again I want to thank you for setting me straight on this, I was so confused before.
turok turok 6/18/2021 11:41
@MauvaisFou nope hahahahahaha
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 6/18/2021 02:17
can turok say something other than who cares hahahaha it does not matter hahahaha ?
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 6/18/2021 11:30
This whole story has far more to do with bad sense of humor than with cheating. And with that people like that know that their surroundings will laugh nevertheless. It made me think of Berlusconi doing the rabbit prank on a group photo with other European leaders. It's in their veins: I can do anything I want and get away with it.
turok turok 6/18/2021 02:57
@adbennet as I said it doesn't matter-it was for charity-who did it hurt-he played and if it was all for charity then it is all good-he knew but once again we have people like you who think its a big deal and make something out of nothing-relax its just a charity game-he could've stopped playing but he didn't-so obviously he didn't care-and if he did its his choice to continue-it is all the others like you who cannot relax-so those people took of their time to play and chose to use an engine- maybe Anand will now know how to defend against the e5 move hahahaha and not lose if he faces this in a real match hahaha sorry just not a big deal-thats what is actually the story how Anand lost to an e5 supposedly very bad move in beginning of the game-sounds to me we now have a new opening gambit how about we name it after the cheater hahahahaha
adbennet adbennet 6/18/2021 02:16
@turok - Your argument that it doesn't matter they used an engine can be refuted by reductio ad absurdum. Why in fact were they even trying to win? It's for charity, let the GM win, right? Who cares?

Well for some reason the cheaters did care -- they cared enough to use an engine. And there is your answer to why we care. We care because they did that. Better to lose honestly than to win dishonestly. It's that simple.
hurwitz hurwitz 6/18/2021 01:00
Cheating aside, as a chess fan, I found it extremely sad that computers are far far better than our best human.
turok turok 6/17/2021 10:20
I find this hilarious! Who cares? This was all about charity and if they raised money so what-are we that worried that in a charity event a chess player has to care about such things and who in the heck was checking this anyways. So it made it more exciting-so he loses-does it hurt his rating or his ego??? They use computers in correspondence chess now right ? No difference only being that people know it just like in the past when correspondence title winners just had more at their hands to win or research. Did these people agree NOT to use a computer-IMO it just doesn't matter as the result was for charity-to compare this to cheaters in a real event for money or sandbagging etc is an entirely different thing. Lets NOT forget many top players who lose to a lesser will mostly complain a computer was used to save face. But to write this insane article for clicks in crazy-if Anand is worried about this-from a person who is known as the computer champion anyways hahaha it is hilarious IMO meaning he is known for using computers so heavily that many go off script to shake him up. Computers is part of chess now-the top players use computers for certain moves to try and beat each other-something the other may not have found-
KWRegan KWRegan 6/17/2021 06:48
If the challengers wanted to play with Fire (or Stockfish or Komodo etc.), a brighter idea would have been to stage this as a test of TheVish's own assertion that getting 1 bit of information about 1 move (does it work? yes/no) is worth 150 Elo. I find a FIDE rating of 1075 for Kamath, so almost 12 x 150 below Anand's peak. He could have been allowed 12 uses of a "lifeline"---a-la "Slumdog Millionaire"---where he could suggest a move and get a 1-bit answer: yes/no, is it the first line? Make his timing of the lifelines part of the strategy. Well, this could be a rematch...
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 6/17/2021 05:41
I fully agree with lajosarpad (it sounds Hungarian, doesn't it ?).
A long time ago, before online chess, I ended my subscription
to a chess magazine because it gave too much room to blitz
and even bullet games, analysing them like they were Candidate
PhishMaster PhishMaster 6/17/2021 12:24
@Force of Nature The guy was rated 400! You are very naive: It was a blunder. He just had not turned on his engine yet.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/17/2021 11:52
This shows that online chess should never be taken as seriously as over the board games. It is okay to report on blitz events, but I think daily reports are too much. They raise the online tournament on the same level of recognition as over the board tournaments. But online tournaments are always prone to cheating, much more than over the board tournaments, there is mouse slip, OS crash, viruses, connection issues and a plethora of new aspects that online chess injects into the game. It's fine to have online games and tournaments, but it is unwise to treat them with similar seriousness as over the board tournaments. Because if we revere online chess at the same level as normal chess, then cheating in online chess will damage OTB chess as well. Not to mention the fact that genuine brilliancy will always be suspected in online chess. If Fischer's exceptional results in the candidates would happen in online chess today, he would probably be disregarded as a cheater.
anthonyy anthonyy 6/17/2021 11:05
It must be said however that Vishy was not particularly inspired in this game - probably because the first move showed him how weak was his opponent - another advantage of 1... e5 !
karavamudan karavamudan 6/17/2021 09:29
Cheating esp in online chess seems to be rampant be it charity even or even online blitz games for a few meaningless points gain
Denix Denix 6/17/2021 08:35
I would have done the same if I was a billionaire. Congratulations Nikhil Sir and THANK YOU for your charity! This opening should go as Nikhil Gambit!
adbennet adbennet 6/17/2021 06:14
@Force of Nature - I am sure 1...e5? was indeed a novel sort of beginner's blunder. No doubt the engine supplied 1...d5 and the rusty black player rushed out 1...e5 instead. Very similar to "John von Neumann" in the World Open 1993 (round 9) mistakenly playing 8.Bxc3 instead of the engine's choice 8.bxc3.

In the current case black was doubly lucky. First, lucky it was only a pawn given away by this type of error. Second, lucky that an engine today can come back from pawn-and-move odds against a (simul-giving) GM! But no doubt this contributed to black's time shortage at the end, as after this error he would have been carefully double-checking the engine move at every turn.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 6/17/2021 03:39
The "I'm sorry" as plan B, when you know you are to be caught.
Force of Nature Force of Nature 6/17/2021 02:29
@Sagar Shah

Stop miscategorising Kamath's first move 1...e5 as a blunder. A blunder implies some error in calculation or an oversight. The move I'm sure was played intentionally by Kamath as befits someone of his level and cannot be accurately described as a blunder but simply as an atrocious move typical of your average woodpusher.

Chess Players blunder, celebrities on the other hand just make legal moves hoping to last into the double digits once Scholars Mate has been parried.
brian8871 brian8871 6/17/2021 12:59
What does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul?
retspan retspan 6/16/2021 11:59
So, Mr. billionaire will do this in public, in an event which is supposed to be for charity. I wonder what he is capable of doing in private, when the goal is to enrich himself some more, such as in having his taxes computed.

"Tax me if you can !" ;-)
adbennet adbennet 6/16/2021 11:17
They heard about Bareev's 2019 book "Say No to Chess Principles!", but didn't realize the subject was positional principles.
Keshava Keshava 6/16/2021 10:34
I believe that the organizers were in on this just for the fun and the extra buzz. I think that Anand realizes this and that is why he went along with it instead of trying to flag his Nikhil.
dumkof dumkof 6/16/2021 10:34
That's the way they became billionaires. By cheating and elbowing others.

If I were Anand, I would never attend any online tournament of this sort ever again.
hurwitz hurwitz 6/16/2021 09:13
If you believe in some values, you never agree to cheating at this level. You cannot call this "unclassy" or "low", this says something about the values the person stands by.

I know it is judgmental and perhaps not correct to say this, but this incident begs the question which "values" make him rich in his business ...
Bill Alg Bill Alg 6/16/2021 08:49
What clowns
ChessTalk ChessTalk 6/16/2021 07:38
sidney powell's famous "no reasonable person would believe it" defense.
Gerald C Gerald C 6/16/2021 06:33
Nikhil must be successful in business as he wins at chess ...
Somewhat Experienced Somewhat Experienced 6/16/2021 04:57
How indicative of our shallow age...
Mitra90210 Mitra90210 6/16/2021 04:41
Nikhil Kamath proves yet again that money can never buy class.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 6/16/2021 04:01
Billionaires don't cheat, they just make use of possibilities.
Theochessman Theochessman 6/16/2021 03:54
That's pretty low