Sebastien Feller Can Play Chess Again

Sebastien Feller Can Play Chess Again

| 59 | Chess Players

FIDE has announced that GM Sebastien Feller, who was banned from chess for three years after a cheating scandal, can participate in FIDE rated events again. 

Photo Wikipedia.

On Wednesday a short statement was published on the FIDE website:

Following the expiration of the ban imposed by the Ethics Commission and the return of the Prize Fund and Gold Medal by GM Feller, FIDE confirms that GM Feller can now participate in FIDE rated events.

In July 2012 the FIDE Ethics Commission confirmed the French chess federation's suspension of Feller, together with Arnaud Hauchard and Cyril Marzolo, for cheating at the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk in September 2010. From that moment, the three couldn't play rated events anymore.

Feller received a ban of two years and nine months, which expired on May 1. Hauchard's ban expires on  August 1,  but the French federation has banned him for life from the duties of captain. Marzolo's suspension by FIDE was much shorter but his ban in France lasts two more years.

The cheating took place at the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2010, where the then-19-year-old Sebastien Feller played very well. Rated 2649, he won the gold medal on board five with a score of 6/9 and a TPR of 2708.

Later it was discovered that during the games, Marzolo was sending SMS text messages with phone numbers that functioned as code. Hauchard, who was the team captain for France, received the messages and communicated them to Feller by stopping at different places, which was code for squares on the chess board.

Feller lost his gold medal, which went to GM Mateusz Bartel of Poland instead, but did not actually return it. Neither did he transfer the prize money back to FIDE, who urged him to do so in another recent message on its website, on April 27:

We refer to the decision made that you should hand back the prize money and the medal you received from the 2010 Chess Olympiad. This you have not done and at the Presidential Board held in Chengdu April 27th 2015, it was decided that should you not send the money and the medal back by the 7th of May 2015, that proceedings will be taken against you.

Meanwhile, your suspension will remain in place until a final decision has been made.

Apparently Feller has now fulfilled all his obligations to be eligible for official FIDE rated games.

Only a week ago an amateur chess player was caught cheating at the Dr. Hedgewar Open in New Delhi, having mobile phones strapped onto his legs. Using a micro speaker in his ear, he was communicating with a friend more than 200 km away.

Three weeks back, a cheating story by a Georgian grandmaster reached mainstream media. At the Dubai Open, GM Gaioz Nigalidze was using a mobile phone which was hidden in a toilet stall, covered with toilet paper.

Comments by ECU President (and FIDE Delegate for Georgia) GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili in a Georgian newspaper started a debate about the severity of a sentence in case of cheating in chess. Azmaiparashvili said:

[P]eople have been too harsh with him, virtually demanding the death sentence. Gaioz is guilty and should be punished, but he has not done anything deserving the death penalty. The strength of the chess program he was using could be compared to light doping.”

“The guilty must be punished, but we should acknowledge that he has admitted his guilt. We should also take into account the difficult financial situation faced by his family. It seems to me that Nigalidze should be banned for one or two years maximum.”

Perhaps inspired by these comments, ACP President GM Emil Sutovsky posted on Facebook:

I have an important question for my chess colleagues. Please, answer one simple question: some player was cheating. It was 100% proved and he got disqualified, let's say three years. Now, these three years have expired, and he is back to the the tournament circuit. Will you shake hands with him (not prior to the game - that's mandatory, but just greeting) and hang out with him or you will refer to him as to a tainted person, even though he was already punished for these three years?

Dozens of comments followed.

Currently a ban of three years seems to be standard in case of cheating. In case of a repeat offense, players can be suspended for 15 years.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: 877 E 1200 S #970397, Orem, UT 84097

More from PeterDoggers
Stephane Bressac Wins Unique 1st Blindfold Chess Challenge, Open To Everyone

Stephane Bressac Wins Unique 1st Blindfold Chess Challenge, Open To Everyone

Caruana Wins Superbet Chess Classic Romania In Playoff After Dramatic Final Day

Caruana Wins Superbet Chess Classic Romania In Playoff After Dramatic Final Day