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Friday, January 21, 2011

Scandal: French Chess Grandmasters Accused of Cheating

Chess blog for latest news and trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hi Everybody,

We're in shock. We just read (in French) on
the main page of the French Chess Federation www.echecs.asso.fr that a disciplinary action has been started on December 22, 2010 against Grandmasters Sébastien Feller and Arnaud Hauchard, as well against International Master Cyril Marzolo. These players are accused of "organized cheating", lacking sport ethics, and hurting the image of the National Team of France, during the Chess Olympiads of Khanty-Mansiysk. The FIDE has been informed, according to the news report.

Original Text in French:

La Fédération Française des Echecs saisit sa Commission de Discipline contre des membres de l'équipe de France, pour "triche"

La Fédération Française des Echecs (FFE) annonce qu'elle a engagé, le 22 décembre 2010, une action disciplinaire contre les Grand-Maîtres Internationaux Sébastien Feller et Arnaud Hauchard, ainsi que contre le Maître International Cyril Marzolo, à la suite de soupçons de "triche organisée, manquement grave à l'éthique sportive, atteinte portée à l'image de l'équipe nationale olympique, dans le cadre du Championnat du Monde d'Echecs par équipes qui s'est déroulé à Khanty-Mansyik (Russie), du 21 septembre au 3 octobre 2010".

Une information sur cette procédure a par ailleurs été adressée à la Fédération Internationale des Echecs (FIDE), ainsi qu'au Ministère des Sports, en tant qu'administration de tutelle de la FFE.

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, le 21 janvier 2011

Lots of comments are gathering already in France and no doubt will also pop up here.

The issue is extremely serious, it's the first time Grandmasters are implicated in high-level cheating. Besides, we cannot imagine a Federation announcing concrete names without being 100% sure of the facts. But then, how come their "Press Release" does not have any facts.

We'll have to wait for additional facts before we can make up our minds.


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63 Comments:

  • At January 22, 2011 at 3:37 AM , Anonymous Amrit Puri, Knights Chess Club, New Delhi said...

    Oh goodness. It has happened in India a couple of times. The players were banned but later something happened and the ban was lifted. I don't remember. Maybe somebody else does. Still cheating is really bad in any sport. Let's see what the final verdict is before we make up our minds - yes.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 3:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You mean Olympiads? OLYMPIADS? OH BOY.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 3:43 AM , Anonymous Anuj, India said...

    Just a week or so back at the Parsvnath International Chess Tournament in New Delhi a young player CRG Krishna beat Ukrainian Grandmaster Yaroslav Zherebukh. During the match, Zherebukh complained against Krishna about possible usage of electronic device and Arbiters frisked Krishna in presence of his rival and nothing suspicious was found. Later Zherebukh apologized to Krishna.

    We cannot say anything unless something is proved. But overall this trend is disastrous for chess. Increasingly we fear that players cheat. Electronic cheating is difficult to catch actually.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 3:45 AM , Anonymous Sebastian Wolff, Maryland said...

    Congratulations to the French Federation for coming forward with this. If they have sent details to Fide undoubtedly there must be something to this. What a shame. What a pity for those who played against the French. It is unbelievable that chess players could think of cheating. Isn't chess something so sublime, so superior to anything else that it brings out the best in you. Very sad. I am very upset.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 4:31 AM , Anonymous Keith, New Zealand said...

    Disastrous. But then we take heart in the fact that there are some bad apples in every profession. Very sad that some players could lower the dignity of a grandmaster title like this. Very sad.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 4:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The French did it - unbelievable

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 5:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Apparently Feller has already cheated in the past, several times.

    I'm somewhat amazed.
    French, proud of it, but ashamed of that dirty scandal.

    These people must be banned from chess for the rest of their lives.

    A.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 5:17 AM , Anonymous K.P. said...

    What a shame. Deterrent punishment including ban plus stripping of grandmaster titled is necessary.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 5:24 AM , Anonymous Alexis Cochran, New Zealand said...

    Cheating is rampant. It is a question of who gets caught and what the Federation does about it. Cheating is not just electronic. I have attended Open tournaments where people just walk past and later give hints to friends in the corridor or hall or at coffee machine table. It's all there. Yes this has happened at the Olympiads so it gets more serious. But cheating is all there because we have lack of honest people in all professions all over the world.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 5:47 AM , Anonymous Katie Chelmsford, London said...

    For use of electric devices a scanning for electronic devices should help at the entrance to a hall but what can be done about players ganging up and giving hints. But what can we say till we hear all the details in this.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 6:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Computers have ruined chess. Chess used to be a pure noble game, but nowadays even if someone is not cheating, there's always a cloud of suspicion that he might be. This is especially true in online chess, but it happens even over-the-board, like 2 years ago when Mamedyarov accused Kurnosov of cheating.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 6:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I don't know how to react. Grandmasters? Do they really need to cheat?

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 6:46 AM , Anonymous Richard, Manchester said...

    There are some people spreading negativity everywhere in every industry and profession. Should be dealt with strictly. Above all it's very distressing. Fined, stripped of titled and banned for life is what i would suggest. If they were not grandmasters maybe a few years ban was ok but grandmasters? nothing less than ban for life.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 8:47 AM , Anonymous Jason Hu, Beijing said...

    Can anyone have any two views about cheating. Spoilsports. There goes the credibility of chess too. I thought one thing was safe on the planet. Pathetic. I often hear of that news about people rigging close-rated tournaments. But at the Olympiads? What is left.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 9:24 AM , Anonymous Saira Fernando, Madrid said...

    Distressing. Not sure how to react. Please not grandmasters, not in Europe, not in chess.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 9:47 AM , Anonymous Keynu Lampah said...

    Just read this beautiful piece about Lasker. How can GMs cheat? they only teach.
    http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/life/stories/2011/01/22/luminary-enjoyed-many-a-good-fight.html?sid=101

    A world champion for 26years, Emanuel Lasker was a towering figure. It speaks well of chess that he should find so much in it.

    His friend, Albert Einstein, who described Lasker as one of the most interesting people he had met, saw a tragic note in this passion.

    "He could never free his mind of this game," Einstein said, "even when he was occupied by philosophical and humanitarian problems."

    Lasker saw the chessboard as an arena in which humanity might show its best qualities.

    "There is magic," he said, "in the creative chess master."

    In his philosophical tome Struggle, Lasker wrote that life and chess mirror each other. The common denominator, he said, was "what human nature mostly delights in: a fight."

    A visitor to his home of later years might be ushered before a chess table and challenged by the aging grandmaster, who would make a move and declare: "Defend yourself."

    Lasker was an avowed disciple of what is true. Conventional education, he said, was "frightfully wasteful of time and values."

    In chess and in life, he declared, one should seek out challenges, not avoid difficult tasks.

    Chess legend Jose Capablanca once labeled Lasker as "the most profound and imaginative player I have ever known."

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 10:06 AM , Anonymous Andre, Chile said...

    I really like @Keynu Lampah yes grandmasters teach not cheat. I cannot believe this has happened.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 10:27 AM , Anonymous Dipu Pokharel, Kathmandu said...

    IT SHOULD BE PREVENTED. SAD DAY FOR CHESS INDEED.

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 10:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    http://chess-news.ru/node/1503

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 11:01 AM , Anonymous Kate, Arizona said...

    Will Fide react to this or keep silent like it has been on the Women's Open letter?

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 2:09 PM , Blogger Palamède said...

    la honte !!!

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 4:16 PM , Blogger Palamède said...

    let them play correspondence chess, les échecs par correspondance, so that they may cheat to their heart's content

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 4:21 PM , Blogger Palamède said...

    will FIDE, la fédération internationale des échecs founded in Paris in 1924 if memory serves, be as powerless as the organizers of Tour de France to get rid of cheaters? Whaddya say mani-pulite-Kirzan?

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 4:34 PM , Blogger Palamède said...

    let them play poker! never let them close to a chessboard again...

     
  • At January 22, 2011 at 11:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What a shame! they should be erased from chess planet!

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 1:02 AM , Blogger Elmer Escoto R. (Likantropo) said...

    It´s a real shock. However... what would be their motivation? Fame? Glory? Money? Were they under threat from some mysterious organization seeking to find the Montglane Service? Sorry... just came to my mind from a book I read.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 1:57 AM , Blogger Palamède said...

    le Tour de France, chessplayers as cyclists... would be funny if it weren't so pitifully sad

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 3:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The announcement did not provide any details about what the players are said to have done...so let's not jump to conclusions, ok?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 6:05 AM , Anonymous Hilltop Watcher said...

    To begin with the details of the entire episode be made public. Next strict guidelines should be drawn up to check cheating and all cheating episodes should be punished with ban from chess anywhere for LIFE nothing less. A few people have no right to malign the image of something as beautiful as chess like this. They should be fined too.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 6:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Even if French Fed bans them they will go and play somewhere else?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 6:55 AM , Anonymous J.C. said...

    Whenever a issue comes up very few other players bother to speak up. Why? Everyone is too busy in Tata Steel I suppose.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 6:59 AM , Anonymous Gordon, London said...

    Reminds me of New York Times dated 2009.

    A controversy that erupted at the Aeroflot Open, however, has stirred up concerns. In Round 6, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, the top seed, lost quickly to Igor Kurnosov of Russia. Afterward, in a letter to the tournament organizer, Mamedyarov accused his opponent of cheating, saying that Kurnosov went to the bathroom after every move, and carried his coat with him.
    Mamedyarov said he had examined the game against a computer program called Rybka and found that his opponent’s moves matched the computer’s recommendations every time. Reports from Moscow said the tournament referee searched Kurnosov after the game and found only cigarettes, a lighter and a pen in his pockets.
    After his protest, Mamedyarov withdrew from the tournament. Kurnosov was allowed to remain in the competition.
    Cheating has become a concern because of the strength of chess-playing computer programs and the sophistication of wireless communication devices. Some claims of cheating have been proved, but others have lacked evidence.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 7:01 AM , Anonymous Aloysius, London said...

    I would like to add to my friend Gordon's post of a Chessbase report : http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=3605
    But it remains to be seen what Fide can come up with.

    The quest for workable methods to secure the US chess world against computer-aided cheating entered a new phase on Dec. 4, 2006, when some of America’s top chess authorities put their heads together for a panel discussion that was billed as a "Chess Cheating Town Meeting."

    Bill Goichberg, president of the US Chess Federation and a leading organizer, announced new cheating prevention measures for his four biggest events. These specify that players may not use headphones, earphones, cell phones or hearing aids; that they may not leave the tournament floor without permission; that they can be ejected if they refuse an official request to be searched for banned devices; iPods will still be permitted – but, earphones, needed to listen to an iPod, will not. These rules may be waived for players with low scores. Cell phones would be banned from tournament rooms altogether at the point when cell phones are able to run Fritz (i.e. in about a year from now). The most serious threat is the combination of a chess engine with wireless communication with an accomplice outside the playing hall. Goichberg dismissed another proposed technological solution – signal-jamming equipment – because of a Federal Communications Commission rule that he said bars the use of such equipment in the United States. On the other hand he will consider using signal detectors – devices that pinpoint the source of communications signals without interfering with them.

    GM Alex Stripunsky, called for mandatory three-year bans from all USCF play for a first offense, and a lifetime ban after a second offense. He equated this action with the tough steps other sports federations are taking to stamp out cheating through performance drugs. Stripunsky also suggested that an anti-cheating statement be added to USCF membership forms. The member would acknowledge that using any kind of outside help during a rated game is illegal and is punishable by disqualification. Stripunsky also addressed the widely publicized allegations of cheating in the recent World Championship match between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. Citing information from current US Champion Alex Onischuk – a member of Veselin Topalov’s team during the match – Stripunsky said the fact that Topalov merely suspected that Kramnik might have been cheating during bathroom breaks, was enough to affect the quality of Topalov’s play.

    Nelson Farber, Manhattan-based attorney, said that legal authority exists to prosecute cheaters under either common law ("larceny by trick" in the New York State penal code) or civil racketeering (RICO) statutes. Nevertheless, Farber said that in practice, "prosecuting chess cheating is not likely to be a priority of District Attorneys and U.S. Attorneys." Therefore, instead of seeking help from law enforcement chess authorities concentrate on developing fair and appropriate internal procedures to adjudicate cheating complaints.

    Steve Immitt, National TD, delved into the history of cheating in chess and outlined the factors that in recent years have made cheating a threat to organized chess competition: the strength of chess programs; smaller, cheaper and more powerful computer and communications hardware; and larger prize funds.

    Dr. Danny Kopec, IMaster and computer professor said cheating was a natural outgrowth of a creeping erosion in respect for the culture of tournament chess, even among participants themselves. The degradation of competitive chess is rooted in commercialism.

    Jon Jacobs, chess writer and anti-cheating activist, warned against professional cheats, teams of dedicated thieves who employ hidden wireless devices to send moves from computer-equipped accomplices outside the playing hall to stooges moving pieces at their boards. One anti-cheating technology was engine move-screening.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 7:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What a disgrace. Maybe the titles are not genuine either and were got by cheating.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 7:46 AM , Anonymous President of discipline court french fed said...

    What you read is the claim of French fed. Now, starting from 6/1/2011, there is a 3 months official process before the French chess discipline court (an independent commission of FF) examine the facts and decide guilty or not. There is no "live evidence" by arbiters during the Olympiads. Things could be more complicated than related, we need to wait, please, without forgetting that they must be considered innocent as long as the discipline court has not stated otherwise.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 7:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What happens to their result at the Olympiad? Doesn't it change everything?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 8:28 AM , Anonymous Kia Simone, Puerto del Terentia said...

    How can you cheat on your own profession?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 8:30 AM , Anonymous Sarah Khan, Dubai said...

    According to one legend, a dispute over cheating at chess led King Canute to murder a Danish nobleman. In modern times this is murder of chess itself. Pathetic that the title of GM has been tarnished. Cannot believe the French could do this. Maybe sometimes one thinks someone has done it for money if they come from an impoverished country but this is unimaginable. What use?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 8:50 AM , Anonymous beatriz said...

    You cannot check cheating in team events if people whisper moves to each other while walking down the tables or at the coffee machine. It's just about how good or ethical you want to be in your actions even when no one is watching. Too bad.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    what use?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:11 AM , Anonymous Saira Fernando, Madrid said...

    There have never been cases of women cheating in chess. Men have to start the worst in every place.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:12 AM , Anonymous Janet Llewyn, London said...

    No surprise. It had to be the French.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    of course it is well known that English never cheat even in football , it is a bit stupid to compare countries like that , at least French are saying the truth like in cyclism

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:44 AM , Anonymous Barbara Cole, Argentina said...

    It is sad that some people can just go along and spoil nice things for everybody else. Unfortunately it doesn't even achieve much. The French couldn't win the gold. A complete boycott and ban is correct.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:50 AM , Blogger distimpson said...

    Hi Folks, sorry to be so naive here but how does one cheat at chess? I've heard of card counting in Las Vegas with electronics but chess, how? I can see kibitzing going on, you might blurt out a move because of the excitement of seeing it, bite your tongue, keep eyes on the board, maybe some ear plugs?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:54 AM , Anonymous dm said...

    If a grandmaster can cheat why not ordinary rated players? Bad things to come thanks to the French. What a shame. There is some Indian player banned for 10 years for cheating with a friend. But his friend was let off. The guy qualified with the Olympiad team and played with Anand as captain. Team events are always giving options for more cheating I suppose. I don't have a solution though. Wonder what would happen now?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:56 AM , Anonymous Ethan Richards, Sheffield, UK said...

    If they had to waste so much time preparing how to cheat they might as well have utilizes that time preparing how to play. Morons.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 9:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Grandmasters in C(heating). Grandmasters in pure Chess would have been easier.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM , Anonymous Kaylan, Beijing said...

    Some stupid inspiration. But does it not change all the results now? Why should other innocent players suffer? The chess world is becoming worse and worse. Lack of bonhomie, jealousies and god knows what else - betting, cheating? we will all be in the grave sooner or later. What's a life not worth lived?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 10:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Leur famille ne les a dénoncés?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 10:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    abord, ils doivent quitter la France

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM , Anonymous Edward, London said...

    Dumb enough to cheat and more dumb enough to get caught. Twice dumb should be sent to Antarctica to play chess with the penguins. The French conquest of Antarctica. Yoooooooo Hooooooooooo.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM , Anonymous Gabriela said...

    Drown in the English Channel.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 11:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Unless the details of the entire episode are made public we cannot come to a conclusion about the punitive measures. However overall since this has happened at the Olympiad it is very serious. Grandmasters don't cheat. Let's not let a few spoil the image of our sport. We have great many sportpersons in chess. Sad that the thing would circle around in the media. Hope it washes away soon.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM , Anonymous Herbert Clayton, Jr. Nevada said...

    As if we didn't have problems already! How come they were not caught at the Olympiad itself. Does it now affect all the results?

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 11:28 AM , Anonymous Ingrid Jones said...

    Dark Knights. Ban for life. Should not be allowed to play even Open tournaments in any country.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 11:34 AM , Anonymous S.M. said...

    Le peuple français ne comprendront jamais l'importance de la chose. Tout est sur le court terme pour eux. Alors, avec ces joueurs d'échecs stupides. Me rend très en colère.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 11:37 AM , Anonymous Ari Thimpu, Nepal said...

    Two strong of bad news in chess world in January one month alone and FIDE quiet. Brave French Federation to take steps. V. difficult to check trend. It has to come from within. That is the things with all crimes in all the world. Background, education, family everything. Jails punishment etc only hold. Not nice feeling to see in chess also.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 12:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Isn't Feller only 19? His parents should have a serious talk with him. ONLY 19.

     
  • At January 23, 2011 at 2:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I don't know what I dislike most in chess. The cheaters or the haters. Both degrade the sport and take away the joy from others.

     
  • At January 24, 2011 at 9:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Winter Lion, U.S. writes: Pine-tar bat, cork bat, "stuff" on the ball (pitcher), signals from the stands (tennis), all illegal.

    Get on with international monitoring methods and guidelines, and be done with it. Let the Phoenix rise from the ashes.

     
  • At January 28, 2011 at 1:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What's going on is a deep moral problem it can be fixed but coaches and chess teachers need to start with the small kids 5-9 talk to them about the importance of honour, sportsmanship, winning the right way so when they grow up they have a much better attitude and deeper respect for chess than the young people do now.

     
  • At January 28, 2011 at 9:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    It seems that The captain received information on the way to play from outside and that he comunicated the lines several times to his players. Although some of the games where lost, some played lines seems to be curiously brillant...

     

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