New York Times on cheating

by ChessBase
3/20/2020 – In baseball trainers used a live video feed to decipher the signs of opposing catchers, and then banged on a trash can to signal the next pitch to the batter. Smartphones, buzzers, even yogurt — chess has nearly seen it all in both live and online tournaments. And just as in baseball, technology only makes it harder to root out. | Image: New York Times

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Chess with the most cheating?

Baseball’s malfeasance — sign-stealing or otherwise — has nothing on chess. At prestigious live tournaments and among thousands of others playing daily online, cheating is a scourge. Whether it’s a secret buzzer planted in a shoe, a smartphone smuggled into the bathroom, a particular flavor of yogurt delivered at a key moment — or just online players using computerized chess programs — chess has perhaps more cheating than any other game in the world.

In both chess and baseball, both real and rumored instances of cheating have been around for decades, but an explosion in technology and data over the past 10 to 15 years has made the problem much harder to curb for both. In chess, players at live tournaments are now required to leave their phones behind and pass through metal detectors before entering the playing area. Some have even been asked to remove clothing and been searched. And some tournaments now put players behind one-way mirrors to limit visual communication.

Many chess players still try. Just last year, a grandmaster named Igors Rausis was caught examining a smartphone in a bathroom stall at a tournament in France. In 2015, Gaioz Nigalidze of Georgia was barred for three years by FIDE, chess’s global governing body, and had his grandmaster status revoked for the same offense. In 2013, Borislav Ivanov, a young player from Bulgaria, was essentially forced into retirement after he refused to take off his shoes to be searched for an electronic device that might be used to transmit signals to him. A device was never found — Ivanov reportedly refused to remove his shoes because, he claimed, his socks were too smelly — but he retired shortly after the tournament.

FIDE’s anti-cheating commission has recently stepped up its efforts to combat the problem. The group met last month and resolved to give financial support to national federations that need it to help them root out cheating, and will share detection techniques with online chess platforms. They are currently investigating 20 cases.

“The cheaters have been winning for a long time,” Arkady Dvorkovich, the president of FIDE, said in a telephone interview from Moscow. “But in the last few months we showed our determination to fight it and I think people realize it is serious.’”

Read the full article by David Waldstein published Published March 15, 2020 in the NYT.


After reading David Waldsteins article, if you are up to more, you can peruse some of the articles we published on the subject in the past years. Yes, we have been following it closely.


Previous ChessBase reports on cheating

A history of cheating in chess (1)
29.09.2011 – Hardly a month goes by without some report of cheating in international chess tournaments. The problem has become acute, but it is not new. In 2001 Frederic Friedel contributed a paper to the book "Advances in Computer Chess 9". It traces the many forms of illicit manipulations in chess and, a decade later, appears disconcertingly topical and up-to-date. We reproduce the paper in five parts.
A history of cheating in chess (2)
04.10.2011 – Coaching players during the game is probably the most widespread form of cheating (rivaled only perhaps by bribery and the throwing of games). Although this practice began long before the advent of chess playing machines, computers have added a new and dramatic dimension to this method of cheating in chess. You will never guess: who were the pioneers of cheating with computers?
A history of cheating in chess (3)
18.12.2011 – In January 1999 the main topic of conversation amongst top players like Kasparov, Anand and others: who was the mysterious German chess amateur, rated below 2000, who had won a strong Open ahead of GMs and IMs, with wonderfully courageous attacking chess and a 2630 performance? How had he done it? Turns out it was with unconventional methods, as subsequent investigation uncovered.
A history of cheating in chess (4)
28.2.2012– Las Palmas 1996: Garry Kasparov is agonizing over his 20th move against Vishy Anand. He calculates and calculates but cannot make a very tempting pawn push work. Immediately after the game he discovers, from his helpers, that it would have won the ultimately drawn position. The point that became clear to him: a single bit of information, given at the top level in chess, can decide a game.

Cheating in chess: the problem won't go away
3/30/2011 – As you know the recent suspicion of organized cheating during a Chess Olympiad has led to three French players being suspended. One is currently playing in the European Individual Championship, where his colleagues have published an open letter demanding additional security. For years we have been proposing a remedy for this very serious problem. It needs to be implemented now.

Anti-cheating: the fifteen minute broadcast delay
5/13/2011 – For five years we have been trying to get FIDE to implement a 15-minute delay in the Internet broadcast of important games – to make organised cheating harder. A chess journalist has now pointed out a fatal flaw in the plan: it would force chess journalists to walk many yards to find out the current status of the games. Damn – and we thought it was such a good idea! What is your opinion?

Anti-cheating: the fifteen minute debate continues
6/29/2011 – Our recent reply to stern criticism leveled against us in the Dutch magazine New in Chess resulted, unsurprisingly, in a large number of letters from our readers, many quite effusive. But we decided not to publish any until at least one turned up supporting the views of our NiC critic. Six weeks went by until it at last came, authored by the critic himself. Now we can publish your letters.

Cheating suspicion at the Zadar Open in Croatia
1/4/2013 – In this event, with 16 GMs and a host of other strong players, one participant stood out especially: the 25-year-old untitled Bulgarian Borislav Ivanov scored 6.0/9 points, with a rating performance of 2697. In the January FIDE list Ivanov has gained 115 points over his previous 2277 rating, gained in over 400 games over three years. A certain suspicion once again raises its ugly head.

Cheating scandal – Borislav Ivanov speaks out
1/17/2013 – Recently a 25-year-old untitled Bulgarian player scored 6.0/9 points in a strong GM tournament, with a 2697 performance. His opponents complained, he was searched, and no electronic equipment was found. Still, the case put chess on the front pages of the mainstream media, and led to intense discussions on the Internet. Now Ivanov has given the Russian news portal WhyChess an exclusive interview.

The shoe assistant – Ivanov forfeits at Blagoevgrad
10/3/2013 – Everyone has heard about Borislav Ivanov, a lowly FM from Bulgaria, who since late 2012 has wowed the chess world with super-GM performances. Ivanov was suspected of computer cheating, and forty GMs are boycotting tournaments in which he plays. GM Max Dlugy is not one of them, but he insisted on a thorough check of his opponent before their game. You'll never believe what happened next.

Ivanov ends his chess career
10/5/2013 – On Thursday we reported that FM Borislav Ivanov had forfeited his round seven game after he refused to take off his shoes and allow the arbiter to check for hidden devices. His opponent in that round, GM Maxim Dlugy, provided all the details. Ivanov was permitted to continue in rounds eight and nine, but now has announced that he will retire from chess, as the Bulgarian new outlet Blitz reports.

Yet another case of cheating in chess
5/1/2015 – When a young 1500-player grinds down a grandmaster rated 900 points above him, people jump to the conclusion that he must have had computer assistance. But the evidence is usually circumstantial and based on logical deduction. "These are just speculative accusations," readers tend to say. "Do you have any real proof?" In the latest case the answer is: yes we do!

Tkachiev: How I became a cheater in chess
5/13/2015 – Grandmaster Vladislav Tkachiev is a flamboyant character. His most recent escapade: to test how easy it is to cheat in chess. He spent an hour and a half researching the subject, $30 to rent some equipment and a hidden conspirator to wirelessly send him key moves. That was enough to thoroughly trash a colleague of similar strength. Tkachiev had it all recorded on video.

New case of cheating in chess?
4/26/2016 – We use a question mark because the evidence presented by IM Valeri Lilov is circumstantial – no actual pictures of hidden devices or anything. But we cannot forget that Lilov has previously unmasked a notorious cheat in a similar way – a player who has received a life-long ban from tournaments. You can view the evidence presented by Lilov in a 37-minute video and then tell us what you think.

Famous chess player arrested in Bulgaria
3/22/2017 – He gained fame a few years ago, by playing in GM tournaments and crushing players many categories above him with flawless tactical play. Then Borislav Ivanov, who has been the subject of at least a dozen articles here, was disqualified and suspended – for not allowing the organisers to check his shoes for electronic signaling devices. That finally ended his chess career. Now Ivanov is in the news again, this time for selling counterfeit drivers licenses. He faces eight years in prison.

"If a player is determined to cheat, it will happen"
10/20/2018 – In the United States, there are many weekend tournaments, thanks to the efforts of many independent tournament organizers nationwide. Some of these tournaments provide significant prize money, over USD $12,000, and the chance to play against strong master level players. Georgia-based DAVIDE NASTASIO recently spoke to one such veteran organizer, Walter High, and sent this brief interview along with annotated games from the North Carolina Open.

58-year-old GM Igors Rausis accused of cheating
7/12/2019 – Every once in a while we hear a story of a chess player who surpasses the established norms and achieves truly something special. At that point a thought does cross almost every chess fan's mind: Is he for real? This is the case of 58-year-old GM Igors Rausis who saw a phenomenal surge in his rating that brought him as high as 2686, gaining over 50 Elo points in the last year alone. For a player of his age, Rausis' performance was closely scrutinized. Was it just his beating many lower rated players honestly? On July 11th, suspicions of something more nefarious finally gained gravity in the Strasbourg Open in France where he stands accused of cheating with his mobile phone inside a toilet!



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