chess

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Mind Games - PaulBroekhuyse paulbroekhuyse@gmail.com

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

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