Cheating in Chess

     9/2/2004 -  I had an interesting chat with a guest on ICC. It was about cheating in OTB tournaments. I felt compelled to  bring this to peoples attention. The guest said he told the TD and other persons about the cheating, but nothing came of it.  The guest said that he knew players who cheated and won several thousand dollars. Basically the cheating was done with the use of a two cellular phones, an ear piece, and some one back at a hotel room with a computer running chess software.  The cell phone was put on silent mode, so no ringing or beeping could be heard. An ear piece was hidden with long hair, so it could not be detected. The phone connection was made prior to the start of the game. 

  After the opponent moved, the person in the hotel room would ask questions to find out what the move was. The first question would be: was it a pawn move? If it was, then the player hit a key on the key pad of the phone. If not, then the 2nd question would be: was it a knight move?  Once the piece was determine, the next set of questions were designed to determine the square the piece moved to. So basically every legal move was systematically gone thru until the right move was found. 

   This might seem slow, but in a classical time chess game it's very doable. Correct information would be acknowledged with a beep. Since the cell phone is on silent, only the persons on the phones can hear the beeps.  Once the move was communicated to the person in the hotel room, it was played on a notepad running chess software. The chess software would respond and this move was told, via the cell phone, to the player at the board. 

     This is horrible for chess. With big money in tournaments, the use of high technology to facilitate cheating will certainly occur. There are expensive devices that can prevent cellular phones from working. But this could lead to some safety and human rights issues. I just wanted to pass this one on, so people will be aware. Cellular phones give us great flexibility and productivity. However this technology can be used for sinister purposes, like cheating in chess and on exams.  Cellular's text messaging and Cellular's video technologies can be  surreptitiously used  for cheating. 

  This type of cheating can be discovered at lower levels by going over game scores. TDs need to be on the look out for cellular phone abuse. Also if you are playing in a tournament, look for some wires or an ear piece or a cellular phone under the table.