Computers in chess... Cheaters paradise.

  • GM Gserper
  • | Mar 14, 2013

In the last week's article I touched the subject of cheaters who use computer engines during their games. To my great surprise, judging by reader's messages, many of you are not aware of this problem.  I was asked how can cheaters possibly use the computer's help during a tournament play, so today I would like to provide more information on this subject.

There are two ways of consulting a chess engine while playing your game. The most primitive (or should I say stupid?) is to have it installed on your mobile device, so you can go somewhere (most probably a washroom) and check your position there. This method is easily detectable and therefore utterly stupid. One of the most recent cases happened in the German Championship 2011. 23-year-old FM Christoph Natsidis had an excellent tournament and played GM Sebastian Siebrecht in the last round. Natsidis kept disappearing from the board for long periods of time even when it was his move. Naturally his opponent was concerned and complained to an arbiter who found a smart phone in Natsidis' pocket. The phone had a chess program installed and it showed the position from the game he was playing! Natsidis confessed and was promptly disqualified. The most bizzarre detail is that even in the case of losing this game Natsidis would have made his IM norm! Did I mention that cheaters who use this method are not the smartest people in the World?  By the way, GM Sebastian Siebrecht is some sort of cheater's magnet. A year later he was playing Falko Bindrich in the German Bundesliga and his opponent was displaying the same suspicious behaviour. Siebrecht appealed to an arbiter who asked Falko Bindrich to provide his smart phone for an inspection. Bindrich refused and his game was forfeited based on the Bundesliga's rule that prohibits use of smart phones during the game. 

The second method of cheating is more sophisticated and requires an accomplice who would run a chess engine and tell you the moves.  The only problem is how to transmit the information from the player to his accomplice. The low tech method of doing this was shown by a group of French chess players during Chess Olympiad 2010 in Khanty-Mansiysk. GMs Sebastien Feller, Arnaud Hauchard and IM Cyril Marzolo developed a devilish system of cheating in front of the whole Chess World. If only they used this level of creativity in their chess games! According to the President of the French Chess Federation Jean-Claude Moingt the system worked like this:

IM Mazorlo was in France the whole time and his job was to analyze the position with a computer. Then he would send an SMS to the French team captain GM Arnaud Hauchard who would transmit the moves to GM Sebastien Feller using a special code. Hauchard would move between the chess tables in a certain order and since each board was assigned a rank and a file, Feller knew what move he was supposed to play. Eventually all members of the group were 'rewarded' for their creativity. IM Cyril Marzolo was suspended for five years, GM Sebastien Feller was sentenced to three years followed by two years of community service with the French Chess Federation and GM Arnaud Hauchard got a lifetime ban as captain and coach within the French Chess Federation.

But the real fun begins when you observe people using the high tech methods of moves transmission. 25 year old Umakant Sharma was caught in 2006 when a hidden blue-tooth device was found stitched into his cap. He was banned for 10 years by All India Chess Association. 

 Steve Rosenberg was playing in the World Open 2006 and was doing quite well. In fact he was leading before the final round and a win would have earned him around $18,000. Too bad that he was caught using wireless transmitter and receiver called a "Phonito". He was disqualified from the event.  But it is Eugene Varshavsky who made the World Open 2006 famous. Just look at the following position and try to guess Black's move.

Throughout the whole game Varshavsky completely outplayed his opponent (who was rated 600 USCF points higher!) both tactically and positionally. Look at whole game:

After the game was over Varshavsky decided to pull a "Clemens Allwermann" and said "Yeah, Grandmaster, the doubled pawns ruined your position".  (Is it me or the help from chess engines make cheaters talkative?)  This ridiculous phrase was the final straw and Smirin complained to an arbiter about a massive hat Varshavsky was wearing throughout the whole game. If you've ever been to Philadelphia on the 4th of July, when the World Open traditionally takes place, you can attest that the weather there doesn't really require a hat. When Varshavsky was asked to remove his hat he asked to go to a bathroom first.  There he disappeared for about 45 minutes and when he was back nothing was found on him.  Nevertheless, the last two rounds of the tournament he was asked to play with no hat.  Amazingly, his playing strength dropped significantly and the last  two rounds his lucky opponents played basically a 1500 player. Judge for yourself:

I anticipate your response: since nothing was found on Eugen Varshavsky he is innocent until proven guilty.  The fact that most of his moves matched those played by Shredder 9 is pure coincidence. He wasn't even expelled from the tournament by a tournament director.  And after accusations like this anyone would play below his usual strength.  Fair enough!  Maybe he was not cheating.  Maybe he was so offended by the witch hunt that he decided to retire from chess and pursue his other passion - sudoku.  But wait, here is the report from the National Sudoku Tournament:  " Eugen Varshavsky, originally a walk-up contestant, left with the $3000 third place prize... It was only later that Varshavsky’s performance made some of the judges go hmmm… it seems that his performance ability suffered in the final round of the contest when he had to remove his headphones, which contestants were allowed to use to block out distractions."  

After the accusations there he retired from Sudoku as well.  Was he cheating in chess and sudoku? We'll never know the answer to this question and so the mystery will stay forever!

to be continued...


  • 8 months ago


    to be honest, I think Najer is a cheater too...

  • 14 months ago


  • 14 months ago


  • 19 months ago


    thats funny

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    I play at chess parks alot. Santa Monica Pier in LA is great. I win 4 out of 5 games and have never been overwhelmed against a live, breathing, human opponent. On line I have been destroyed and utterly crushed a few times. I have no doubt I was cheated. At least I learned something from the experience. The cheater has a laugh or two. Then the sad truth hits him, he sucks at chess and life!

  • 3 years ago


  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    I blame humans for this mess..not computer chess.

    Mankind will always be capable of evil; we ALL are. Choices people. We make choices. Choose right from wrong!

    I am not a "religious" person per se, but my conviction is, God will come back one day and smash this entire evil world (and a lot of humanity will end up on the wrong side as well). Although you will laugh, but so-called little things like these add up. If you do wrong in little things, you will do wrong in big things.

    Think about that....

    Hold yourself up to a higher standard....

    PS: And I think that Ivanov guy is a cheater. Sigh.

  • 4 years ago


  • 4 years ago


    I have written an electronic score sheet for iPod / iPad call Chess Score Pad (  The USCF is in the process of evaluating it for certification.  It has been available from the Apple App Store for almost a year.

    People will have small computers (smart phones) whether or not they are permitted to use them as an electronic scoresheet.  So why not allow the 99.9% who do not cheat to have the benefits of an electronic scoresheet?    

     When I play poker at a casino, the house gets a part of each pot to provide the players with a dealer that enforces the rules and the required security to protect the players from cheaters.  I would expect the same from the organizers of high stakes chess tournaments.  Instead of excluding small computers for people to use as electronic scoresheets, they need to have the required security to detect cheaters.  


  • 4 years ago


    Because I was at that event, and he was suspected of cheating against me, I watched his game with Smirin fairly closely. Varshavsky found g5 (and other moves) with amazing speed for someone that disaplayed terrible chess knowledge when he played without his hat. Finding tough moves happens, congrats. But for a 1600 to find those tough moves as quickly as he did, speaks for itself.

  • 4 years ago


    Money is the root of all evil and what's really driving cheating and causing players to take big risks that and perhaps some cheap thrill of seeing how far they can really push it without being caught. 

    Life time ban for those caught and strip their ratings.

  • 4 years ago


    Thanks for this article...It gives me intersting knowledge about idiot chess cheats,who are really fool.They,the cheaters can fool us but cant take away our geniusness.They are only wasting their time and energy by climbing FAKE EVEREST using computer engines or unfare means.They are IMAGENARY KING,without the public.Let them enjoy their FAKE KING STATUS and lived in cocoon.Cool

    Mattu....the honest playerInnocent

  • 4 years ago


    It´s interesting that at least one of you thinks that taking a long time to make a move, then making a great move = cheating!  Don´t you realise it could also equal thinking !  

  • 4 years ago


    Haha! Wow, incredible what people are capable of doing for money and recognition. And I agree, if only they were as creative over the board, they'd probably win more tournaments. 

    I have to say that I find your articles to be by far the most instructive and amusing in Just letting you know. Thanks for making my day a little brighter.

  • 4 years ago


    i'll tell you something creepy. I soon as i left this article i went to live chess where i played someone whose handle was Posashok2012. I ended up winning the game but it was a game they probably should have won except they made a couple major blunders in sucession that put me in winning position permanently then they resigned. the creepy thing is when i went to their site. His name was listed as   Alex  Varshavsky.  Wonder if he 's the brother of the Varshavsky from this article. Creepy stuff , more than coincidence?

  • 4 years ago


    ive been thinking. Its very easy to win the medium computer, and not totally impossible to win the computer hard at The rating of the medium computer run at 1350 rating.  When you play it, it just make such stupid error. It basically cause its own downfall.

    When i challenge a human - rated at 1350, the same rating as the computer, you might expect the same random blunder the computer would do, but it is not so, not at all. This tell me, that a 1350 rated player, can be rated at around 1800.

    So, who is depriving our 1800 rated players to become 1350 rated trash? It is the cheaters. They harvest the middleclass players from their ratings, pushing them down, and pushing them above 2000!

    of the 300 000 players. only 10 000 would play live. It is very disheartning to loose every game, so people start to loose interest, leaving 10 000 "experts" to battle it out.

    At another site, i win 101 games, and loose 19, this include the times my wife phone me, or i need to time out, because i got some things to do that distract my attention. At I loose far more games than I can win. This tell me only one thing. Either it is the top 10 000 players in the world that play, live at

    one thing that i like about not loosing heart, is that I have no idea of how good i really am. I can play with confidence, and i know that my rating is far higher than what i think it is at

    The exception is the grand masters, and i think there is only about 1200 of them in the world. The chances of playing one is so low, i think i can win a lotto, or fall pregnant.  This is why i dont care. I have so much experience of chess, i can kinda feel if my opponent is giving me nothing to work with. Its like a brick wall you run into. a true opponent is like a sponge, you can feel how he giveaway as he make blunder, and that is how I know why not every opponent is a Grand Master:D

    Fact is, we become just better skilled, and when we do enter a tournament, we kinda have less to worry about:)

  • 4 years ago


    About what said LazyChessPlayer3201 

    Well, I'm pretty far from being rated 1800, since I lack the tempo-tactical matters too much, but some of my moves, yes, I do 'em pretty quick, unless my opponent comes with a brand new bag. I try predicting his next move and when that prediction comes to be precise, I just "thunderdo" my next move. Cool

    Hacker people play weird. I get pretty paranoid when I'm playing people that take LOTS of time to do their moves, because I always think that they're trying to hide something, but well, guess it's part of the game, to be trustful.

    Nice solution to that is joining only team/tournament matches, with people that you sorta see that are active at the website, but indeed, we're never free.

  • 4 years ago


    Cheaters musn't only be disqualified... They must be banned forever until they pray ten thousands Our Fathers and five thousand Hail Maries.

    But now oh gosh! Please, please, PLEASE. Start digging people's ears with that metal trackers.. So easier to prevent such things from happening.

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