Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental.
On Saturday (NZT Sunday), Nigalidze, the 25-year-old reigning Georgian champion, was competing in the 17th annual Dubai Open Chess Tournament when his opponent spotted something strange.
“Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet,” Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian said.
“I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren’t occupied.”
Petrosian complained to the officials. After Nigalidze left the bathroom once more, officials inspected the interior and say they found an iPhone wrapped in toilet paper and hidden behind the toilet.
“When confronted, Nigalidze denied he owned the device,” according to the tournament’s website.
“But officials opened the smart device and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze’s account. They also found his game being analysed in one of the chess applications.”
Sadly this is going to get harder to prevent and detect. Imagine Google Glass built into your normal glasses. Or someone in the audience having a smart phone and communicating through blinking or some sort of code.
Future tournaments may have to be in glass cubicles with one way glass, and sweeps for technology.
“The basic problem is that it’s incredibly easy to cheat with a phone,” says Nigel Short, an English chess grandmaster who once was ranked third in the world and is now 60th.
“You can have some application running on your phone, and it’s quite easy to conceal… my dog could win a major tournament using one of these devices. Or my grandmother. Anybody could do this.”
“A friend of mine recently joked that his mobile phone will beat Magnus Carlsen,” Short said, referring to the Norwegian chess prodigy who is currently the world’s No 1 player.
“I said, ‘What are you talking about? My microwave could beat Magnus Carlsen.'” …
Short said penalties have to be even harsher than those for Olympic athletes who abuse drugs because smart phones alter the playing field even more than steroids.
“The difference is, if I were to take drugs – some sort of steroids or whatever – I will still never be able to win the 100 metres or the Tour de France because I simply don’t have the physique for this,” he said, “but any club player could win an international tournament if he’s using this sort of device.”
Yep a smart phone doesn’t just help you in chess, it basically makes you unbeatable as computer power is now so great it can analyse hundreds of moves ahead.
The cheater should have a life ban.