Yet another case of cheating in chess

by ChessBase
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!

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Under the headline "‘Outside’ help lands chess player in trouble" the story was broken by Rakesh Rao, permanent sports and chess reporter for one of India's most prestigious newspapers. He decries cheating in chess, which is "rampant with mobile technology increasingly playing a role, and lesser-rated players taking ‘outside’ help during a game."

Rakesh tells the story of the latest episode, that comes just two weeks after a player was caught using his smartphone, which was hidden in a toilet cubicle during the Dubai Open, to enhance the quality of his moves. The player, Gaioz Nigalidze, was a grandmaster who had sensationally won the Georgian Championship twice in a row. The player who was caught during the fifth round of the inaugural Dr. Hedgewar Open Chess Tournament in New Delhi, was rated 1517, but he outplayed GM Praveen Thipsay, who is almost 900 points higher on the Elo scale.

The player who outplayed the GM in 87 moves was 19-year-old Dhruv Kakkar. Long before the game ended his opponent had complained to chief arbiter. "I noticed that he was taking around two minutes for every move, whether it was a complex move or a simple piece-capture with a pawn," Thipsay told The Hindu. "I expressed my doubts to the chief arbiter, who asked me to continue. By the 29th move, I was clearly lost and chose to offer a draw. He promptly declined the offer. My doubts stood confirmed when he missed simple winning lines, as though he waited for a confirmation from someone. At times I thought he misheard the move and played incorrectly.”

After the GM had finally resigned the game Kakkar was whisked
away to the tournament office and frisked.

There it was discovered that the 1517 player was wearing not just one ...

... but two Android phones taped to his body.

In addition it was discovered that neatly tucked away around his waist ...

Kakkar had a pouch, strapped to his belt, two nine-volt batteries.

The batteries were connected to a loop of wire around his neck, hidden under the shirt. They were also connected to the phones strapped to each foot, just above the ankle. The player also carried two spare batteries in his bag, presumably for the next round.

Finally the inspectors found a micro-speaker tucked in Kakkar's left ear. This allowed him listen to the moves dictated by his friend Shubham, who sat before a computer using chess software Fritz, around 220 km away at Yamuna Nagar in Haryana.

Dhruv Kakkar, a second year engineering student in Electronics from JMIT in Yamuna Nagar, confessed to cheating in a written letter. He admitted to The Hindu that he used the contraption to win the first four rounds (against players rated 0, 1913, 2104, and 2258).

"I made this device and practised with my friend for three days before using it in this event" he said. Apparently his collaborator would dictate possible moves made by my opponent and Lallar would tap his foot when the correct move by Thipsay came up. Fritz would then calculate a reply, which Shubham would read out and Kakkar would play.

The full equipment found on the chess cheat

The Chief Arbiter, Dharmendra Kumar, immediately expelled Kakkar from the tournament. The two conspirators were made to answer questions on Thursday, after Shubham travelled from Yamuna Nagar to the National Capital, which is 220 kilometers away. In the presence of Organizing Secretary R. S. Tiwari and Secretary of the Delhi Chess Association A. K. Verma, both Dhruv and Shubham admitted to cheating. The two were later allowed to leave for Yamuna Nagar.

The Chief Arbiter said he would send a detailed report, photographs and the components used by the player to cheat, to the AICF for further action. The AICF is expected to apprise the FIDE on the subject. The prize fund of the Hedgeware Open was 1,000,000 Rupees.

All pictures by Dharmendra Kumar

All material for this article was provided by Rakesh Rao, Senior Assitant Editor of The Hindu. Rakesh is a fairly strong player – in August last year he won the Press Club of India Annual Chess tournament with a record 5.0/5 score. Rakesh is a good friend and has contrbuted articles and material to our newspage in the past. Here two examples:

  • 10/25/2007 – Anand in the news: Time, Sportstar and other stories
    Having regained the World Championship title, Anand is currently on a “vacation” in India, where he is being "felicitated" and showered with gifts. Time for the game’s finest ambassador to reflect on what chess has given him, and how it can be promoted as a spectator sport. And to reveal details on the strategies that led to his dramatic success. We have links and excerpts.

  • 11/7/2008 – Master of the Universe, Lord of the Rings
    What does the name "Viswanathan" mean? The original Sanskrit translates to "Master" (nath) "of the Universe" (vishwa). Anand himself somewhat flippantly tells us it means "Lord of the Rings". The Indian magazine Sportstar chose the former translation for the title page of its latest issue, which devotes a cover story and an indepth interview to the Indian World Champion. Long interesting read.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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RickFox RickFox 2/12/2022 03:48
not correct to play chess in this way ; anyway he is not a criminal
Francis Pogi Francis Pogi 5/8/2015 07:04
...or maybe airing the games 5-10 moves delayed is a good option as well!!
Francis Pogi Francis Pogi 5/8/2015 06:25
He was caught coz he used cheap techs (small timer). If only he has funds maybe he would used those micro chips tech that is inventable nowadays. Perhaps by airing games slightly delayed to all fans inside & outside the playing hall by at least 30-60 mins would at least guarantee of honest games especially on the elite!!
airman airman 5/2/2015 11:37
The unfortunate part is when you are a 1900 player or so and you have the game of your life or close and you do beat a GM or IM and get accused. Heck I have beaten a GM and lost to a 1800 in the same tourney. The GM was not at his best but there where some whispers about me when I lost to the 1800.

Hard facts are needed when you accuse. Unfortunately there are those out there that do cheat as well.
ex0 ex0 5/2/2015 04:58
@kurumban + cythere : no, i disagree with you guys, i am glad that he had his picture published with the pics showing him being caught red handed at cheating. Wow, he ruined his reputation and is now known to everyone as a cheat? well boo hoo, cry me a river. If you don't want to look like a cheat, then don't cheat. Sorry, but his being made into a scapegoat is for the good of the future of chess.. lol

Hopefully this will make other potential cheats think twice before attempting to cheat next time..
kurumban kurumban 5/2/2015 12:14
Cythere is correct. This player needs to face the consequences for cheating. But to make him look like a major criminal by publishing those pictures of him is ethically wrong.
Camembert Camembert 5/2/2015 12:01
FIDE should require that all competitions should be in a nudist camp. Problems solved.
MarriedRhombus MarriedRhombus 5/2/2015 05:23
At least the guy has a reason to cheat: money. What I will never understand is why one will cheat in casual online games, where there are no prize money, useless ratings, alias names (so you cannot be popular), etc.
Deep_Port Deep_Port 5/2/2015 04:03
Electromagnetically shielded rooms and/or electronic scanners. Solved.
Captain Slag Captain Slag 5/2/2015 01:17
I think some (professional) players have a reasonable right to be concerned about people cheating them in tournaments but what concerns me with all these techno-cheats being outed is it breeding a climate of hubris fueled paranoia.
What I mean by this is that some players, thanks perhaps to grand over estimation of their own playing abilities, are looking for any reason why a game against someone who they believe should beat easily has turned to custard.
Now before people start howling about techno-cheats, GM Thipsay was right about his concerns but what if he wasn't? What if you where his opponent and spent months preparing for the tournament and the chances of playing such a game against a G.M? What if you got the chance to play a G.M and played well above your ability? I am still young enough to remember when upsets in chess games occurred (and granted not between a 1500 rated player and a GM) and both players stayed afterwards to analyze the game. Now it just seems to easy to complain about cheating...
Rational Rational 5/2/2015 01:13
It is quite obvious slow time limit chess for significant amounts of prize money or prestige in open tournaments is finished. Devices are only going to get smaller and more sophisticated.

What is need is a change in chess culture to blitz tournaments for fun, rather like in Bridge the emphasis is on pairs competitions for points.
SuperMoverBros SuperMoverBros 5/2/2015 01:06
I'd cheat. I have a few ideas I was talking to my buddy about.

Here's the thing. If you're a serious player and you care about your rating like it's all you think about, I can see why it's such a big deal.

I'm a 1500 rated player mayne. Play once a while. Never a rated game. So to me, it's funny.

Cheating is a game in itself, if someone can do it, go for it. Poker players cheat or at least try to. If they get away with it, more power to them.

Guys, chess is awesome but in the end it's just a board game.

That kid should not give up. He should have more text. Change strategy each time.

I found this article interesting more than infuriating.

If a person can outsmart a chess event, he's the real winner. If he gets caught, shame him and move on.
ChesovBoulderski ChesovBoulderski 5/1/2015 11:23
Some people are against labor and some against labor-saving devices, and
some don't want to waste time on routine thinking and some are anti-intellectual.
Does the commenter who states "It is going to get worse before it gets better" mean that
more effective and less obvious assistive arrangements shall ultimately be devised?
The article and comments smack of being anti slide rule, anti calculator in the test room.
I've beaten strong engines through my own skills and not once did I feel the computer needed to be opened;
anyway in this case the operator seemed unable to always reliably relay a single move from ear to hand.
When I was a young player seeking tournament points I already knew to avoid the guys
with rolled up foreign Russian language chess magazines in their back pockets.

Because of this storm in a teacup our chess cafe now needs:
a nurse to undress and inspect ambitious players
foot spray
an embedded systems programmer
a forensic photographer
a reporter with some chess knowledge (with the following two)
a mugshot publishing lawyer
an ethics philosopher
to be quieter during games
stronger telecommunications signals
an accountant to correct the fees and prizes
someone to set the clock back so tournaments can be restarted
Doutzen Doutzen 5/1/2015 10:12
@cythere He is "only" 19 old, he knew what he did it and he have to pay for what he did it!
dysanfel dysanfel 5/1/2015 09:56
It is going to get worse before it gets better
HarryHaller HarryHaller 5/1/2015 09:20
Cythere: Fool. The cheater - and all other cheaters - absolutely should have their identities publicized. They should face judgement for what they have done. Without consequences for actions, all of our lives would be worse - and that includes the death of chess. He is only 19?! At what point does one become responsible? 30? 40? Sorry, but it is in no way shocking that a proven and admitted cheater is actually called what he is.
Aighearach Aighearach 5/1/2015 07:54
I don't like the implication in the phrasing that catching a cheater who is actually cheating somehow makes it okay to make false accusations based on playing a good game.

I'm the former State-level class champion in classes B,C,D, and E, and I have multiple (!) 800+ point upset victories. I've usually also given up some bad upsets in those same tournaments. It is often said, the difference between an expert and a B player is consistency; it has more to do with the rate of bad moves than how good the good moves are. A class player might very well play one game without any computer-identified mistakes. My best victory, not against a GM only against an expert ("candidate master" might be the same thing in some regions) only had one weak move (by him) and no clear mistakes by either player.

Some players get offended if you win an upset, but those same players are usually making weak moves against weak players. All the weak player has to do is not blunder and they have a chance to win those games. A person who sees great moves often, but also blunders often, will have an accurate rating as a "class player" aka "fish." But that doesn't mean they can't beat you in a particular game.

Cheating is horrible and people caught cheating should get a lifetime ban from rated chess. If they are a kid, maybe only ban them until age 25. But people making false accusations of cheating, based solely on rating, should be removed from the tournament for unsportsmanlike conduct. Both sides need to be addressed, because we have both problems.
cythere cythere 5/1/2015 07:53
The cheaters should be punished by their chess federation.

But I find it extremely shocking that the article reveals the name and show the face of the main cheater.
(Not mentioning the fact that some photos make him look like a suicide bomber!)
This is not ethical and certainly not up to the standard of a website like Chessbase.
Are you aware of the consequences on his life? He is only 19 years old...

Black_Hand Black_Hand 5/1/2015 05:12
Make an example of him
Hatzegopteryx Hatzegopteryx 5/1/2015 03:59
No, I have played very much online rapid chess, and cheating is rare. However, I have encountered it on a few occasions. Mind you, I haven't played for money, which is perhaps a different thing.
daftarche daftarche 5/1/2015 03:26
there has to be severe penalties like going to jail and paying money for ruining games and tournaments for everyone.
Every one entering a tournament hall should be x rayed. The room be equipped with a signal jammer. And anyone caught cheating BE BANNED FOR LIFE FOR PLAYING IN ANY TOURNAMENT.
Siqueira Siqueira 5/1/2015 03:08
Bobby Fisher had already commented on such a thing and arranged games.
Boris Reykjavik Boris Reykjavik 5/1/2015 03:03
It's time cheats in FIDE events were prosecuted. It's not 'smart' or 'clever', it's fraud.
Boris Reykjavik Boris Reykjavik 5/1/2015 02:59
juanviches: a pity some are so willing to be racist
treetown treetown 5/1/2015 02:58
That microspeaker is tiny. wow.
I guess in the future, we'll only see blitz games between humans or all serious games have to be played inside some type of electromagnetically sealed box (? Faraday Cage?)
cheat3 cheat3 5/1/2015 02:06
There is no way 80% of online players cheat.
Steven Gerrard Steven Gerrard 5/1/2015 02:04
Eerm this was a pretty incompetent attempt to cheat, like they wanted to be caught. It also shows different cultures at tournaments, in that it looks like the "player" was manhandled in pretty direct fashion to find the contraption. Whilst for the famous case of the Bulgarian player in european tournaments, He refused to be frisked and was allowed to walk away from the tournament.
johnmk johnmk 5/1/2015 01:48
The greater danger is when high-rated players cheat such as at Dubai tournament. It's easy to suspect cheating when there is a 900 point rating diff, but much harder when it's a GM or someone who, presumably, got a high rating through merit and then decided to cheat.
Badir Badir 5/1/2015 01:42
FIDE needs to institute a lifetime ban for cheating using electronic devices. The potential punishment must be greater than the potential rewards for cheating. Otherwise you can use something the size of a tic tac to cheat with and that plays better than Carlsen.
cosming cosming 5/1/2015 01:03
What was the penalty the guy received? How much damage did he have to pay to those he cheated in the first rounds? If examples aren't made of these guys, the problems will continue.
Captain Picard Captain Picard 5/1/2015 11:09
Cheating is the wave of the future. If FIDE does not change it's rules you can expect lots and lots more. In online chess I would guess 80% of players cheat at least for a few moves every few games. Oh well. This is why we can't have nice things like chess.
juanviches juanviches 5/1/2015 10:59
That's a pity. Some suggest chinese are cheating.