Is it Possible to Cheat in Chess?

Is it possible to cheat in chess games? Apparently yes! Cheating in chess is possible in many ways. In fact, cheating has become so rampant that it threatens the future of chess and chess tournaments held worldwide. 

Cheating in chess is not only something that happens when you play with your friends. But there have been chess grandmasters, too, who have accused each other of cheating. This includes the cases of chess grandmasters like Sebastian Feller, GM Gaioz Nigalidze and Christoph Nastsidis. 

Cheating is very common in online chess games. There are apps nowadays that give you the best possible moves for your situation. You can get help while playing online chess. It’s also very difficult to detect if a player has been cheating with online chess. Some software are able to detect if a player has been toggling between programs, but if they are using the app on another device, it’s impossible to know. 

Is it Possible to Cheat in Chess

However, cheating while playing on board remains challenging. It is possible to cheat while playing on board, too, but it’s not very common. Most of the allegations of cheating in tournaments could be myths and speculations. And most of them have never been proven. 

The chess grandmaster Antony Karpov is among those who have been accused of cheating in chess. Some say that he was tutored on the move he was to make by the color of the drink he received. Other say that Karpov had a hypnotist sit in the front row and stare at his opponent to influence him. Victor Korchnoi, his opponent, apparently had to wear dark glasses to avoid his stares. 

There are many such cases of cheating in chess tournaments. Some players are said to have stuck to the old-school method of visiting the washroom to take secret calls to a team that gives them tips. An Italian player had supposedly cheated by wearing a pendant with a hidden camera and received signals through Morse code. 

However, it is possible that most of the cases of cheating in chess tournaments are exaggerated. If a player makes some extremely clever moves, the opponents tend to accuse them of getting some outside help or the help of AI machines. There are some who accuse the winner of cheating in order to reduce the embarrassment of accepting their defeat or to tarnish the reputation of the champion. 

There are many ways of cheating in chess games. Let’s look at a few. 

How to Cheat in Chess?

  • Relaying moves is a type of cheating where moves are relayed between two players. 
  • Sandbagging is a more common type of cheating that involves losing games intentionally. Losing in order to get a place at tournaments or to increase ratings is common among many professional chess players too. 
  • Cheating in John is the use of technology and electrical devices to cheat. This has commonly been done using hidden mobile phones in restrooms. This type of cheating has been found not only in amateurs but in grandmasters too. 
  • Some chess players have cheated using hidden devices like wireless transmitters or other mobile devices in their persona. This is said to be used by the player Borislav Ivanov.
  • Another form of cheating is getting assistance from other people. It is possible to develop an inconspicuous code to transmit moves between the player and their coaches. This type of cheating is supposed to have been used by the grandmaster Sebastian Feller with his coach Hauchard who has stood behind different boards to communicate moves. This type of cheating is also extremely difficult to spot and expose.
  • There have also been players who use electronic scorekeeping devices to cheat. Electronic scoresheets are much easier to record moves and are widely used today. But the software can be cloned easily, and they are able to show suggested computer-generated moves in a subtle way.
  • Another way to cheat in chess is by making fictional moves. This includes lying that you have not touched a chess piece when you have, making intentional errors in notation, and other ways. This is why it’s important to take notation carefully in chess games. This has happened with the grandmasters Kasparov and Polgar. Kasparov swore that he had never touched a piece, whereas video evidence showed that he had. 

Is it Possible to Cheat in Chess? Conclusion

Yes, it is possible for chess players to cheat. But cheating in onboard chess is much less common than when playing online chess. Numerous chess-playing sites have shut down due to this problem. 

There are many types of cheating when it comes to onboard chess. Sandbagging, getting help from coaches, and using hidden devices are a few common ways. These types of cheating malpractices have been found not only in amateurs but also in chess grandmasters like Kasparov and Sebastian Feller. However, many types of cheating in chess are hard to prove and detect, and it is possible that most such cases are assumptions and accusations rather than real cheating.

Also read: When you check someone, do you have to say “check!”

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