Cheating is increasingly common in chess, and the lengths some players go to are truly extraordinary. Powerful but cheap chess software can analyse games quickly, and with mobile phones it’s easy to convey information. But while chess cheats are often clever in rigging up the technology, a lack of common sense often brings them undone.
A case in point came in an Indian tournament recently. Nineteen-year-old Dhruv Kakkar, rated just 1517, was outplaying Praveen Thipsay, a grandmaster rated 900 points higher. That was unlikely enough, but there was something doubly weird about his style of play.
“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 TheHindu newspaper.
“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.”
Thipsay complained to the chief arbiter and Kakkar was frisked after the game. Arbiters found not one but two mobile phones taped to his body, a pouch containing two nine-volt batteries strapped to his belt, and a micro-speaker tucked in his left ear. Leaving nothing to chance, Kakkar also carried two spare batteries in his bag.
The second-year engineering student admitted being in cahoots with his friend Shubham, who was sitting at a computer 220km away, analysing the game with Fritz software and conveying the moves by phone.
“I made this device and practised with my friend for three days before using it in this event,” Kakkar admitted.
The case came shortly after a grandmaster was caught using his smartphone, hidden in a toilet cubicle, during the Dubai Open.
And Australians are not immune to the cheating disease. A few years back a local of middling ability managed to progress to the late stages of an internet championship run by the world chess federation, slaying powerful grandmasters along the way. Analysis of his games showed that most of his moves were precisely what a certain popular chess program would recommend, and he was promptly disqualified.
I can’t really understand the mentality of a chess cheat. I mean, I know I could beat Usain Bolt in the 100m dash (if I rode a motorbike) or I could triumph in the Boston marathon (if I took a cab instead of running), but it’s not really winning, is it?
In contrast, check out this nice win by a talented Aussie teenager over a grandmaster from the recent Bangkok Chess Club Open. 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 (The tricky Morra Gambit. White gets some attacking chances in return for his pawn) dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bc4 a6 7. O-O Nge7 8. Bg5 f6 9. Be3 b5 10.Bb3 Ng6 11. Nd5!? Rb8 (After 11...exd5 12. exd5 and 13. d6, it’s hard for black to untangle his position) 12. Rc1 exd5 13. exd5 Nce5 14. d6! Bb7 15. Nxe5 fxe5 16. f4 (White has a crushing attack for his piece) Qh4 17. fxe5 Bxg2 18.Bf7+ Kd8 19. Qd2! (See diagram. Qa5+ or Bg5+
will end it) 1-0
Jack Puccini-GM John Paul Gomez