Chess: The Game of Cheats?

[Blog History]


   Over the last few years, cheating in the chess world has grown exponentially. Like some monstrous “lifeform,” no one seems to know how to stop it. Can they? Will they?


   It came to the forefront during the 2010 Chess Olympiad when 3 french players were accused of cheating. For those who don’t know what resulted from that cheating scandal, this summary will fill you in.


   But the French are not the only ones with this problem. Since the 2010 scandal, cheating in chess has been popping up, in interviews, faster than Yankee Stadium popcorn. Articles have been written about cheating in Croatia, Italy, and even the famed Bundesliga was ripped by scandal. In the Dubai Open, won by Wesley So back in 2008, a player from Iran was accused of cheating when SMS messages were sent to his phone! And most people know about Kramnik’s Toiletgate incident. There was also political backlash from that one.


   Considering this alarming trend, what should be done?  Should security scanners be set up at all competitive chess matches to reveal the players’ cell phones, tablets and other gizmos in order to confiscate them? Should tournament rules state that no electronics of any kind are permitted in playing halls, with “forfeit” as a penalty? What can kill such a menacing “virus” that continues to spread throughout this classic game?


   Some effort needs to take shape; steps need to be set in motion—and soon! There are very big tournaments coming up this year and I’m sure none of us wants to see the integrity of the competitions besmirched by cheaters. Unfortunately, to these few, winning or gaining a few more Elo rating points are more important than ethics and the game will suffer for it, just as in any other sport.


   It’s no different here on, which is why they have a program to detect cheaters. You may agree, it’s more noticeable than ever. has done well in “removing” many of them, but it’s safe to presume there are more out there. What’s unfortunate is, if a good player on the site plays higher than his rating in a game, that player can get trolled by an opponent for cheating, ultimately having check the accused member’s playing. Individuals often come out clean, but others don’t.


   Do these unscrupulous people believe cheating isn’t wrong? Do they not care if they’re booted from the site? Probably not, figuring they’ll go somewhere else and do it again for as long as they get away with it. It puts a real damper on playing LIVE or turn-based chess, simply because you never know who is doing what on the other end. You must hope your opponents are trustworthy. takes the issue of cheating very seriously, so we know we’re in good hands. And on the “Master” front, until FIDE or other national organizations put a stop to cheating in chess, I guess I’ll continue to have plenty of fodder for my blogs, if nothing else.


   Thanks for reading everyone and, please, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “cheating” pandemic! Just please keep your comments nice and respectful. Have a good night. Smile




  • 4 years ago

    IM Keaton87

    Very good article!  I agree 100% that tournament's need to become MUCH stricter with regards to stopping cheating.  The metal detectors and confiscation of phones during the round is a good idea, I also believe that players should not be allowed to leave the playing room during their games.

  • 4 years ago


    You're so wonderfully supportive, bullet :)

    Also, I think putting the incident with Kramnik in just shows the aspects of cheating or being accused of it. We don't know his personal problems, but from reading about it, I honestly think he had need for the bathroom, and if he wanted privacy, he should have it. Personally, I think the man may have digestive or bladder issues. The world need not be privy to these things. But I do think precautions or rules should be set. No electronics, etc. anywhere during important matches--whether in the halls or the bathrooms.

    I just now asked Mark for the specifics on a couple of instances from years ago. I remembered one with a chair and Fischer. He said it was 1972, Fischer vs. Spassky. He also mentioned Kasparov vs. Karpov in 1984-85. It's not like the concept of cheating is new, but it seems to be a bigger problem. I guess you'd have to look into stats over the years to know how much worse it may have gotten.

    To me, the point is cheating is a problem, generally speaking. Steroids have tarnished the physical sports. This is no different---just different ways to cheat :(

    As far as cheating online, it's a way for people to "look big" or "look smart" or "be better" in a way they can't do in real life. Some people just like to make other people feel "small" or look like idiots. There are those who place being "the best" or having a "medal" or something to brag about as more important than whether it's real or not or if it's hurting anyone. It's sad, but true :(

  • 4 years ago


    It's sad how people would cheat on internet chess. There is nothing to gain by making others frustrated and feeling unfair. 

  • 4 years ago


    Don't Let The Riff Raff Keep you Away from Doing your Good Journalism Work Mark. They Win and we all lose if you give in to them. Got to take the Good with the Bad, Cherish the Good, and send the Bad thru the Shredder Machine....

  • 4 years ago


    Nice Post, and Nice Forum Topic. Keep up the Good Work Mark....

  • 4 years ago


    Good article, except for the reference to Kramnik. Was Topalov's unsubstantiated accusations a form of cheating?

  • 4 years ago


    People even cheat here on, where absolutely NOTHING is at stake and the majority of people are playing anonymously.  (Just how pathetic is that, by the way?  Does it really give them an ego boost to "win" when computer software is giving them the moves?  Sad, sad, sad.)  So I'm not at all surprised that it is occuring with some frequency in situations where wins and losses really do matter.

  • 4 years ago


    Here is an article on cheating in chess I posted in the forums a couple months ago.  Very interesting article.

  • 4 years ago


    I wouldn't consider it an alarming trend. Mark referenced half a dozen instances in the last few years of potential cheating, and out of all the players and games played over the last few years, that's a very minute proportion. It's handled well on this site and that's what matters to me.  For over the board games at very high levels, the potential stain on their reputation is enough to keep most people honest, and it'll catch up with the rest, at which point bannings from future tournaments should be in order.

  • 4 years ago


    Nice article, with some effort I can understand a desperate unethical professional doing it but I can't understand why someone wants to cheat here in Where's the fun?  One must enjoy the game and get some fun improving his abilities. In Brazil  we call a guy  like this a "hollow head". Anyways, cheaters must be eliminated from the chess world like a plague they are.

  • 4 years ago


    There was once a suspicion of cheating against topalov in the air, and a few grandmasters expressed their suspicion in private, but nobody spoke in public because there was no concrete proof. 

  • 4 years ago


    It was informative to read the comments about this subject.

  • 4 years ago


    This is why I almost exclusively play 3 minute chess on this site--the speed of the game makes it impossible to cheat. Anything from 10 minutes up is a problem. On another site I played a long game with a fellow in the Czech Republic. He played a French immaculately and won. I chanced upon the same person in a random 3 minute game and he lost the same variation in 13 moves. How can this be? He has never lost a long game, many wins and some draws. Another guy here played a Petrov, achieved a winning position, and offered me a draw. Later I looked up his moves and they were identical to a game played by Shamkovich. This guy had also disabled his chat, probably to avoid accusations of cheating. I like correspondence chess where you are allowed to use reference books, but this computer cheating ruins the fun of playing on-line.   

  • 4 years ago


    I feel sorry for cheaters because hey miss what is great about chess. I would not like to face them in tournaments with money prizes, but here on, I do not care much if I lose a game to a computer or to a human being: I can still learn from it no matter who played the moves.

  • 4 years ago


    im hate cheaters ,my last online games im lost because evrybody use cheat

  • 4 years ago


    I would never cheat at chess. Unless I was losing. If I can win on my own I would do so.

  • 4 years ago


    Good article (although also I don't think Kramnik should be mentionned there).

    I think no electric devices for players allowed to have with you while playing is really a good idea.  That, and a 20 minute delay of any live transmission of games, would really eliminate a huge amount of possibilities for cheaters. And these 2 rules actually seem very realistic as well. 

  • 4 years ago


    I think cheating at chess using computer assistance is still rare, but FIDE and national federations need to have firm rules and penalties to get it properly under control. it's the culture of suspicion that it engenders that could really harm the game.

  • 4 years ago


    wat im saying is just a suspicion, What a coincidence that i had read 2011-2012 articles before about kramnik going to CR often times in that  year 2011-2012 tournament and when i saw in this blog that he has past accusations in going often to CR year 2006 kramnik-topalov match, my doubt/suspicion is somewhat supplemented...(bec twice now that i read him going to CR few times). But im not saying he definitely cheats bec of no evidence of course. It is just the doubts why it happened twice. Got it. 

  • 4 years ago


       I personally am a big fan of Kramnik, depsite "allegations" of cheating. I merely mentioned "Toiletgate" because it was a huge "to-do" concerning him, Topalov and Danailov. I ever mentioned anything in depth about it, I am just re-aiming the reader to one instance of possible cheating that was never proven. It was and still is, hanging over Kramnik's head. I want to show the effects of it and how it affected him. I'm not executing Kramnik at all, just pointing something out that I believe fits in this entry. It's something that happened in chess, involved a big name player, and deserves to be mentioned here, whether true or not. That's what opinions and blogs are all about.


Back to Top

Post your reply: