Cheating through the ages
THEN: Over the years, many reports have been made of players who increased their winning chances by resorting to cheating. These unscrupulous competitors have a long and creative track record. Chessmen have been added to (or subtracted from) the boards. Moves have been secretly retracted. Clock times have been favorably adjusted. Pawns have been moved backward. Positions have been sneakily altered. Disturbing behaviors have been used to distract or upset the opponent. Cohorts, often coaches and talented friends, have set up signaling systems or secret meeting places to exchange game-related information.
Some of these stories, contemptible as they might be, are rather humorous. For instance, there is an account of one disreputable knave in the 1800s who got away with castling using a rook that he purloined fromthe game being played right next to him. Apparently, none of the other players in either of the two games noticed when it occurred. Once at a predominately male U.S. Open, I could not help but observe that one attractive female competitor was inappropriately wearing a daringly high-cut miniskirt and an eye-poppingly low blouse. When confronted about her manner of dress being distractive, she brazenly replied, “Well, yes. Now that’s the idea, isn’t it?”
At one National Open, player A’s focus was impaired by his adversary’s surreptitious kicking of A’s legs under the table. Afterward, a near-fight ensued over the under-table leg space allotment.
NOW: In modern times, cheating has advanced to its highest level. By accessing super-powerful playing computers using electronic devices, it is possible for dishonest players to defeat GMs and win big events. The French Chess Federation once suspended three members of its own team after determining that they had cheated during a Chess Olympiad. Hundreds of chess-related cellphone text messages were discovered.
During this year’s Dubai Open, Gaioz Nigalidze, a GM who has produced a string of unexpected major tournament victories, was detected cheating. He had been making many suspiciously timed trips to the bathroom where it was revealed that he had been accessing a phone hidden in a wastebasket in a stall. The phone was connected to a chess program. Whether honestly played or not, one of his games is well worth examination. On the 13th move of a mainline Najdorf Sicilian, Nigalidze (or a computer) simply gave up a knight for two pawns and proceeded to win anyway. In this column’s game, see if you believe a human could have won in this fashion.
Upcoming major event
Pacific Southwest Open, July 3-5, Irvine. $7,000 to $10,000 in prizes (based upon number of entries), three sections (Open, Premier, Reserve), six rounds; www.metrochessla.com/pso.
Kuzubov, Yuriy-Nigalidze, Gaioz Al Ain Classic Tournament United Arab Emirates
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Be3 Be6 10.a4 Nbd7 11.a5 Rc8 12.Qd2 Qc7 13. Rfd1Nxe4?! 14.Nxe4 Qxc2 15.Qxc2 Rxc2 16.Nc1 d5 17.Ng5 Bxg5 18.Bxg5 Rxb2 19.Be7 Rc8 20.Bd3 Nc5 21.Bxc5 Rxc5 22.Bb1 Rcb5 23.Nd3 Re2 24.Kf1 Re4 25.Ne1 Reb4 26.f3 g5 27.Bd3 Rc5 28.Be2 e4 29.Rd2 f5 30.Rc2 Rxc2 31.Nxc2 Rb2 32.Nd4 Kf7 33.Ke1 Kf6 34.Kd1 Ke5 35.Kc1 Rb4 36.Nxe6 Kxe6 37.Kc2 d4 38.g4 d3+ 39.Bxd3 exd3+ 40.Kc3 Rf4 41.Rb1 Rxf3 42.Rxb7 Rh3 43.Rb6+ Ke5 44.gxf5 Kxf5 45.Rxa6 Rxh2 46.Kxd3 h5 47.Ra8 h4 48.Ke3 Kg4 49.a6 Ra2 50.a7 h3 51.Rd8 Rxa7 52.Kf2 Ra2+ 53.Kg1 Kg3 54.Rd3+ Kh4 55.Rd4+ g4 56.Rb4 Re2 57.Ra4 Kg3 58.Ra3+ Kf4 59.Ra4+ Kf3 60.Ra3+ Re3 61.Ra1 g3 62.Rf1+ Kg4 63.Rb1 h2+ 64.Kg2 Re2+ 65.Kh1 Kh3 0-1