Cheating controversy at Pro Chess League

10/5/2020 – The final of the Chess.com Pro Chess League was overshadowed by a cheating incident. The Chess.com Fair Play Team came to the conclusion that the Armenian Grandmaster Tigran Petrosian, who played for the Armenian Eagles, the team that had won the finals and the tournament, had used computer assistance in the final. The Armenian Eagles were deprived of victory, and Tigran Petrosian was banned for life from playing on the Chess.com server.

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In the finals of the Pro Chess League series, the team of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops (which had players such as Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Leinier Dominguez, and others in their line-up) played against the Armenian Eagles (Tigran Petrosian, Haik Martirosyan, Parham Maghsoodloo, among others). The Armenian Eagles won the final and with it 20,000 dollars, but shortly afterwards allegations of cheating were raised against Tigran Petrosian.

Wesley So was so certain that he made these allegations public. Tigran Petrosian reacted with a very aggressive and insulting response:

But chess.com investigated the allegations and came to the conclusion that Petrosian had violated the fair play rules. Some of this games are conspicuously flawless and his moves are consistent with engine suggestions. The players were monitored by webcams during the games, but during the games Petrosian often looked down, allegedly to get access to computer assistance. Chess.com also came to the conclusion that Petrosian had used computer assistance during the semi-final matches.

Chess.com then deprived the Armenian Eagles of their victory, and declared the Saint Louis Arch Bishops the winners of the final. Tigran Petrosian's server access was deleted and he was banned for life from playing on the Chess.com server.

Press release by Chess.com

The Saint Louis Arch Bishops are the winners of the 2020 PRO Chess League championship. The Armenia Eagles have been disqualified from the 2020 season due to fair play violations.  

After a thorough investigation, Chess.com's Fair Play team determined that GM Tigran L. Petrosian, who played for the Armenia Eagles, violated fair play regulations during games in both the semifinal and final matches that took place on September 25 and 27, respectively. 

Chess.com and the PRO Chess League have issued a lifetime ban against Petrosian for his actions, and per section F of the league's regulations, the Armenia Eagles have been temporarily banned from participation in future PRO Chess League seasons. 

PRO Chess League Commissioner IM Greg Shahade released the following statement:

"It's always unfortunate when the league is presented with evidence of fair play violations, but we stand behind the evidence presented from Chess.com's Fair Play team."

The 2020 title is the third title overall for the Saint Louis Arch Bishops and their second consecutive championship. Both the Canada Chessbrahs and China Pandas will receive $10,000, half of the sum of the second, third, and fourth place prizes.

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