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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Anti-Cheating Chess Measures: Fide Trainer Committee Accepts GM Konstantin Landa's Complete Idea

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

The Fide Trainer Committee has accepted GM Konstantin Landa's detailed proposal on anti-cheating measures for chess tournaments and forwarded to FIDE, recommending the Tournament Organizers Committee to support it. Finally, we would be able to save the image of chess from being damaged by cheaters.

GM Konstantin Landa, Elo 2640, is a senior FIDE trainer, and long-time coach of Alexandra Kosteniuk and Arkadi Naiditsch. He has been the captain and the coach of several  teams including those playing in the Chess Olympiad. He continues to play top-level chess tournaments, train students and write on chess. 

GM Konstantin, while speaking before the Fide panel said: I would like to make some anti-cheating suggestions which could help our chess family to protect the sport. Personally I was forced to take up the anti-cheat suggestions after the events that took place in recent months. The possibility of fraud has long been known but I started facing this problem in the last tournaments where I played.

1. Well-known case with Sebastian Feller in the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk saw the long chain of people involved in cheating and showed poor efficiency, because "when two know the secret - it is no longer a secret". In the most recent cases the cheater appears to be alone.
2. Case in Baku. You can read in Russian at GM Konstantin Landa's website.
3. Case in German bundesliga with Falko Bindrich. All materials you can find in 
4. Case with Natsidis in German individual championship 2011 

GM Landa rightfully says, "It's the tip of the iceberg only! I have heard also about many other cases from my chess friends around the world. It does damage the image of our game every day. The cheater who was successful even one time will never stop and will share information with his friends. The cheaters use electronic devices during the game in such places that nobody can check them out. It's a virus. We have to stop this epidemic!
GM Landa has spoken to a large number of chess professionals at all levels and makes the following recommendations:

Separate amateur and professional chess tournaments
GM Landa says: I have come to the conclusion that it is imperative to separate competitions as professional and amateur tournaments. We could divide the tournaments based on a simple principle:
Professional - official FIDE, qualifying tournaments, large open tournaments, where there are big prizes and mainly professionals are participating . Also the organizers of any tournament will have a right to declare the professional status is they wish so.
Amateur - with low prizes, where most of the participants are not professionals and playing chess mostly for fun.

We cannot impose same restrictions on amateurs as we can and should on professionals. But here are my general and most important suggestions regarding the use of electronic devices. These proposals should have been taken earlier , when the first reports of cheating in tournaments come up.

Groups at any chess tournament
Participants (players)
Arbiters (referees)
Chief referee

Important concepts:
playing hall - the hall where the games are being played, and the players are in the same room with the arbiters .
tournament area - Determined by the organizers. It includes in addition to the playing hall a snack bar, restrooms, smoking room, corridor and so on. The boundaries of the tournament area should be marked with the signs and announced about by the referee (for reminders) before each round
Now we can go to the general proposals for amateur and professional tournaments.

1. The player has no right to leave the tournament area until the end of his game.
The penalty for crossing the line depends on Chief referee and the logic. If a participant while thinking over the move crosses the line of tournament area, but remains within the sight,in my opinion it may be a warning for the first time. If the participant goes to the hotel room, it is logical to forfeit him immediately.

2. The player is not allowed to carry cell phones, head sets or any other electronic devices (except medical) in tournament hall if organizers provide the lockers. Otherwise cell phones and other devices should be bagged and put under the table in the tournament hall, or better do not to take them with you at all.

Of course forfeit for any call or vibration of the phone during the game should be left unchanged.

Important that the player is strictly prohibited to take any electronic devices from playing hall during the game. Organizers may have a small box with numbered spaces (it was organized in the team's first European Cup in Eilat) and at the time to give the ticket for the stored cell phone. In order to avoid complications, the participant can get his phone back by entering a PIN code if it is provided.. Besides such boxes could solve the problem of careless visitors forgetting to turn the cell phones off when entering the room.
Because the visitors can not be forfeited.

3. Referee one time per round may selectively or at the request of the other player check with a manual metal detector player’s pockets if the player decided to leave playing hall. To avoid any accusations in arbitrator being bias computer system to randomly pick the players for test can be used. The security check (as with the airport security) should not cause a negative reaction from the participants. Especially, if one is not carrying any metal objects (preferably not having left any in the playing room). The checking with manual metal detector should take a short time (less than 30

4. Any player may one time per tournament to ask the arbiter to check his opponent when he is leaving the playing hall. GM Landa says, "I'm sure that 99.9% of players who cheat do it when leaving the playing hall. So, while in the playing hall , potential cheaters are unlikely to be safely engage in a fraud - somebody will notice. If you do not want to be subjected to security procedures - remain at the chess board or walk in the playing hall."

5. Security check can be performed outside the playing hall or with the written permission of the Chief referee in exceptional cases. The punishment for the detection of communicator, or other electronic devices (not just cell phones, but also for example various players use ipod) the participant (either on or off) during the game outside of the playing hall entails:

a) an immediate forfeit in a current game and mandatory security check of the communication device. If
nothing is found, the player will be allowed to continue the tournament,

b) the failure to submit a communication device for the test will result in player’s elimination from the tournament. All the games that the player played in the tournament prior to elimination will be
counted as losses

As far as rating points are concerned:
c) if the electronic device proves to be part of cheating , - life disqualification by the decision of the player’s chess federation

6. The Chief Referee has the right to ask any player who is not currently playing the game, as well as the visitors to leave the playing hall. In any case chess players welcome visitors and want to see them in any chess competitions. Spectacular battles In a time trouble, emotions of players have always attracted visitors of chess events. GM Landa says, "Therefore I propose here to empower the chief referee (ordinary referees are usually very busy at the end of the game ) and to entitle him to remove visitors if needed. I do not think we will hear about many of these cases, but such a possibility should be at chief referee’s disposal."

GM Landa says, "These 6 safety rules pose a barrier to the most simple and effective form of fraud that involve electronic devices.
That is all I have to say for now in regards to amateur tournaments."

For professionals only.

GM Landa says: In my view, the professionals need to take a strong commitment to anti-cheating control. It is well known that in modern chess great skills in analyzing variations is not enough - it is necessary to remember them ! OR it is even better to write them down. And with "cheating chits” one can easily pass any exams! Playing many opening in chess game now like taking the exam - if you forget one move you lose. The problem is that during the exam one can go to the restroom check his analysis in the cabin and even flush the paper down the toilet so no one can catch him. So he can safely play any sharp and principled lines - all moves are recorded! What I offer in this case. In my opinion after one hour of playing time the players usually reach the position that hardly could have been analyzed at home."

- During the first hour of play leaving playing hall is prohibited. Players only in urgent cases can leave the playing hall, accompanied by the referee.

- visitors are not allowed in the playing hall during first 60 minutes of play. Due to the fact that most of our audience prefer to watch the games online using the chess programs, attendance of the tournaments has dramatically declined. But if chess fans also want to see the emotions, it's best to come to the end of the game when the players are low on time. The first hour of play usually is not that important.The fans are often bored in the beginning of the games.. The players often times simply show their home preparation.

- Write and adopt rules of FAIR PLAY for professionals. The document should be signed by the players. This will give a strong positive impulse and get rid of unnecessary suspicion and controversy. "I wish that FIDE will finally release something like the Hippocratic oath for the chess players, namely FAIR PLAY RULES published on its website, and ask the players to sign the document. That will resolve the problem of cheating and will show our commitment to a fair game. All the anti-cheating information should be open and available on official fide site. Transparency and
openness will improve our image in the people’s eyes. And to make sure that it is not another PR, hanging in the void, we strongly need to fight against any attempts of fraud."

Security and integrity of the game are in our hands - the chess community. I am sure that I have proposed the rules that can put a serious barrier in the way of dishonest players, concludes GM Konstantin Landa.

The complete proposal can be read in Russian at GM Konstantin Landa's website.

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  • At November 18, 2012 at 6:14 AM , Anonymous Sebastian Wolff, Washington said...

    am all for it - congratulations to GM Landa for preparing this comprehensive document - fide has done well to accept it

  • At November 18, 2012 at 11:12 AM , Anonymous Amrit Puri, Knights Chess Club, New Delhi said...

    very much serious problem you cannot ignore i see/suffer even in local tournament

  • At November 18, 2012 at 1:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Cell jammers in tournament room (as in hospitals) can derail those smuggling in portable device.
    Would love to have a professional chess league as other professional sports. However, unlike a sports team for a city, it would be exciting to have a club that is allowed to sponsor their professional player or players. World's best players deserve world class compensation.

  • At November 19, 2012 at 1:56 AM , Anonymous alexis cochran, nz said...

    could never figure out why people cheat in chess you just go home with nothing even your rating increase is not yours!

  • At November 27, 2012 at 1:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    OMG,- so many rules against cheating will not help. Cheaters always finds a way. All you have todo is to tell your opponent before the game, that you will punch him very hard, if you catch him at cheating.


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