Dubai: Fedoseev, Shabalov lead after seven rounds

by Sagar Shah
4/13/2015 – The Dubai Open is in its final stages with just two rounds left, and the event is heating up. Vladimir Fedoseev and Alexander Shabalov are leading jointly with a score of 6.0/7, followed by a pack of seven on 5.5. In round six the tournament was marred when it was discovered that the two-time Georgian Champion Gaioz Nigalidze had been cheating with a smartphone hidden in the toilet.

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The 17th Dubai Open Chess Tournament is being run from 5th – 16th April 2015 at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, with players from at least 43 countries competing for the prestigious Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup – nine rounds Swiss, time controls: 90 min + 30 sec per move start from move one. The total prize sum is US $50,000, with the winner receiving $12,000. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top 18 placers, with additional prizes for local and Arab players and for the top women scorers.

Dubai: two leaders and a cheating scandal

Fedoseev has been playing phenomenally and in spite of his
high rating of 2674, he is gaining 12 Elo points

On the rest day, Fedoseev won the Dubai blitz, scoring 10.0/11, which was
1.5 points more than his nearest rivals. He won US$ 1000 for this effort.

Alexander Shabalov has been the surprise package of the tournament

Famed for his amazing attacking skills, Shabalov was considered one of the most creative players of the game. Recently, however, his rating has been constantly dipped and he entered the Dubai Open with an Elo of 2500. After a draw in the second round against a 2263 rated opponent, Shabalov picked up pace, scoring wins against three 2600+ players, including Abhijeet Gupta, Sergei Zhigalko and Andrei Istratescu. Currently he is gaining 24 Elo points and meets Fedoseev on board one in what could be the top spot decider clash.

After a strong start of 4.0/4, three draws in a row sent David Howell into the chasers’ pack

Gadir Guseinov is on 5.5/7 after his win against Igor Kovalenko

Yuri Solodovnichenko is also on 5.5 after he drew…

….Nils Grandelius in the seventh round

Eltaj Safarli moved into joint second spot with a win against Papp Gabor.
Have a look at the logo on his t-shirt: ChessBase it is!

Daniele Vocaturo’s run of five wins on a trot came to an end after he lost to Fedoseev today

Standings after round 7

Untitled Document Rank after Round 7

Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1 
GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2674 6.0 15369
GM Shabalov Alexander USA 2500 6.0 15235
GM Solak Dragan TUR 2602 5.5 15463
GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2613 5.5 15306
GM Howell David W L ENG 2687 5.5 15303
GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2606 5.5 15153
GM Solodovnichenko Yuri UKR 2584 5.5 15104
IM Mammadov Zaur AZE 2470 5.5 14469
GM Safarli Eltaj AZE 2637 5.5 14296
GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2630 5.0 15226
GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2595 5.0 15226
GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2657 5.0 15038
GM Petrosian Tigran L. ARM 2660 5.0 15025
GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2614 5.0 14919
GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2638 5.0 14877
IM Das Sayantan IND 2439 5.0 14845
GM Banusz Tamas HUN 2586 5.0 14749
GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2658 5.0 14533
GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2594 5.0 14313
GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr RUS 2623 5.0 14155

Full results and pairings here

The cheating incident

On 12th of April, in the sixth round at the Dubai Open 2015, Georgian GM Gaioz Nigalidze was paired with the black pieces against Armenian GM Tigran Petrosian.

Tigran Petrosian (left) and Gaioz Nigalidze

During the game Petrosian became wary about his opponent's play. This is how he described it to the Russian chess portal Chess-News: "I was suspicious about my opponent already after the tournament in Al Ain in December, where we both had taken part. Nigalidze won that tournament. During our game he would go to the toilet very often, just like this time. However, in Al Ain I had no evidence, I could only make guesses. Today, my suspicions have been confirmed. In today's game, Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet. Twice, I made my moves quickly as well, so that he couldn't leave, and he made mistakes on those occasions. I decided to keep an eye on him. I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren't occupied."

Petrosian against Nigalidze in Al Ain Open 2014. Petrosian won that game.

After Petrosian’s complaint in round six in Dubai, chief arbiter IA Mahdi Abdul Rahim followed Nigalidze and waited for almost six minutes outside the toilet. According to the arbiter there was no sound, and when Nigalidze came out of the toilet he made sure to close the door. The arbiter confronted the Georgian player to check whether he had any electronic device on him. This made Nigalidze extremely nervous. Nevertheless, he allowed the arbiter to carry out the checking of his pockets, but nothing was found. Nigalidze returned to the board and immediately after making his move once again went to the toilet. This time he wanted to make sure that the device which he had kept in the toilet would not be found. According to the arbiter, Nigalidze went to the same toilet cubicle which he had used on the previous occasions.

There are four toilets in the venue but Nigalidze, always chose the one which is second from the left

Once again Nigalidze made sure that the toilet door was firmly closed after he came out of the toilet. The arbiter went inside the toilet and checked the waste bin. Hidden under toilet paper was the smart phone with ear buds that was clearly being used by the Georgian player.

The device was hidden behind the waste bin in the toilet

The arbiter took the device, went to Nigalidze’s board and asked him if it was his. The Georgian couldn’t say much and denied that he owned the device. But officials checked the smart phone and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze’s account. They also found his game being analyzed in one of the chess applications.

Chief arbiter Mahdi Abdul Rahman checking the device against the score sheet

The device had the same position that was on the board

Absolutely clear: the game was forfeited and the point awarded to Petrosian

The above information is based on the interview taken by author of these lines of the chief arbiter Mahdi Abdul Rahman.

The report of this incident has been sent to the anti-cheating commission of FIDE. According to the chief arbiter players proven to have committed such an offence will be suspended for three years from all sanctioned tournaments, and up to 15 years in case of a repeat offence.

Gaioz Nigalidze (middle) attracted attention even before he became a grandmaster. He sensationally won the Georgian Championship twice in a row, in 2013 and 2014, while both the times he was only #9 in the starting rank list. He has been constantly moving up the rating charts. His back to back title wins are sure to raise some suspicion. He won the super strong Al-Ain Open in December 2014 ahead of strong players like Kryvoruchko, Areschenko, Petrosian, Zhigalko, Shankland etc. He earned US $11,000 in that event.

With the winner’s trophy in Al Ain (see our extensive report from Dec. 28, 2014)

Pictures by Amruta Mokal and from the official facebook page


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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Rational Rational 4/15/2015 10:33
billybudd is correct, the only ones being caught are the dumbos. I bet there are some sophisticated cheats about. iMHO there are strong suspicions about at least one GM.
After all loads of players are cheating on servers with absolutely nothing at stake, so lots must be cheating with real money and titles on the line.
thlai80 thlai80 4/14/2015 04:07
What's the joy in beating someone by cheating? To be seeded #9 in Georgian championship means he should be a good enough master. A lot of us are just patzers, but never consider cheating to win. The dreaded consequence of being a disgrace and lifetime of shaming is just not worth it.
KOTLD KOTLD 4/14/2015 02:39
hpaul is completely correct. Idiots like Nigalidze should be permanently banned for this kind of trash.
NMcrazyim5 NMcrazyim5 4/14/2015 02:07
Sometimes I feel Fischer was right. Chess players are such classless petty people who would do anything for little sizable advantage. Their minds are full of conflicts and their algorithm of thinking is messed up by being result driven which very often overshadows ethics and realities of life! What a shameful incident!

PS. I hope my comment doesn't get deleted by the moderator.
hpaul hpaul 4/14/2015 12:50
We don't need this jerk back at the board in 3 years, or even 15. Based on his recent record this was probably not his first effort at cheating. Let him find another game/sport to rip off. Should be a lifetime ban from chess tournaments for this behavior.
daftarche daftarche 4/13/2015 09:51
@billybud it makes you wonder how many professional cheaters are out there who know how to get away with it.
MarriedRhombus MarriedRhombus 4/13/2015 05:16
@billybudd, correct! Strong masters will mostly just need to check the critical positions, not every move.
Also, it is now possible to build a device much smaller than smartphones that can exclusively run a strong chess engine.
prail prail 4/13/2015 04:19
I would like to know more about the outcome and immediate punishment. I assume they forfeited all Nigalidze's games and banished him from the hotel? I don't see this in the report.

Disgraceful behavior. Nigalidze should try cheating at checkers.
billybudd billybudd 4/13/2015 04:12
The most puzzling or disturbing thing about this is how amateurish the cheaters who actually get caught are acting. Going to the toilet for long stretches, having an actual Chess app running on the phone, using the computer for all moves rather than just a few key ones etc. It would be quite easy to construct a cheating scheme that couldn't easily be detected, or even proved. Makes you wonder...

MarriedRhombus MarriedRhombus 4/13/2015 04:07
This is why I wish chess engines were never invented.
cptmajormajor cptmajormajor 4/13/2015 01:23
Best country for this thief to be caught. Cutting his hands off would not be the worst example of over punishing.
If GM are willing to risk everything in a real life situation by cheating , its a clear example why they do not have on-line tournaments for money. Chess, like many things in life, suffers because of poor human moral integrity.
ashperov ashperov 4/13/2015 12:03
Sad and disgusting. People will do anything for Money. So this behaviour is to be expected. This is not the first and it wont be the last. We can just hope that most of the wrong doers are caught.
Werewolf Werewolf 4/13/2015 11:43
He should be banned for much longer than 3 years.
runawaypawn runawaypawn 4/13/2015 11:40
Borislav Ivanov likes this.
horius horius 4/13/2015 11:32
I can imagine (and hope) Dubai taking additional steps, like arresting this thief, and bring him to court.

It's not only cheating, it's theft because there's a mlot of money involved.