The Cheating Epidemic
Cheating has to stop!
I was thinking of writing another blog article on cheating in chess, and when I recently read Irina Bulmaga’s eloquent comments I was inspired to do so today. More and more cases are finding their way into the media about parents and/or children getting caught cheating. Of cellphones being hidden in washrooms, of spectators sending signals or passing on information to players, and worse.
This past summer I witnessed for myself in the Portuguese Team Championship spectators using cellphones to follow the games and then having complete unhindered access to the players. The arbiters did not even try to prevent it.
Fortunately, my next tournament in Portugal (the Famalicao International Open) the organizers wisely demanded that the spectators deposit their cellphones at the door. This should be rigourously controlled in every tournament.
Cheating is a Morals issue, not an Ethics issue.
FIDE has rules against cheating. It has had them written down for everyone to read probably since 1924 when the organization was first founded. FIDE has an Ethics Committee, and even recently created an Anti-Cheating Committee to deal with the increase of electronic cheating.
But it does NOT work. We can argue why all day long, but in the end FIDE arbiters just shrug their shoulders and ask ‘What more can we do?’ My take on the situation is well known (I have written extensively on the subject) but I have evolved a bit and am now of the opinion that dealing with the phenomenon of cheating via the ethics route is doomed to failure.
Ethics issues are about rules violations…the problem is that FIDE has too many rules. Rules limit the punishments by trying to be proportional and fair. Cheaters are getting mere slaps on the wrists as a result.
We in the chess community must start to treat cheating as a morals issue: those who refuse to recognize right and wrong must be given life time bans from participating in official tournaments. Why? Because we should never compromise when it comes to right and wrong.
Some might call it ‘zero tolerance’, but what ever you call it, FIDE has failed to adequately confront the growing epidemic of cheating. We have gone from the point where cheating involved only one of the players, to where parents, spectators and even organizers are now openly cheating.
FIDE arbiters are not the answer to cheating. Ironically, they might be part of the problem! And that is why it might be necessary to remove the arbiters from the equation and simply apply ‘zero tolerance’, a blanket life-time ban for each and every case of cheating.
Kobalia on the youth cheating epidemic
Grandmaster Misha Kobalia is the senior coach of the Russian Youth Team and has vast experience at FIDE’s international youth tournaments. On Dvorkovich’s campaign site he wrote about the many problems and necessary changes that FIDE must confront. Of cheating Kobalia wrote this:
The most sensitive and discussed topic of late is cheating, which draws attention of the entire chess world. FIDE is formally actively involved in this process, there is even an anti-cheating and an ethics Committees. However, what do we see in reality? I have repeatedly observed that spectators could simply establish a direct visual contact with players from across the adjacent spectator areas, where no control is exercised over the use of electronic devices. Well, spectators are spectators, but players are often given a perfunctory check at best: if one takes it into his head, bringing any device in would be no problem whatsoever. Needless to say, a broadcast delay belongs to one of those measures that even some arbiters seem to have never heard of before.