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, and how to keep your opponent permanently under pressure.


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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