Cheating & FIDE. Complicity. (Part I)
A Cheating Coverup?
This past week has witnessed an explosion of stories of top women players cheating in both online and over the board tournaments. Worse still, suspicions are beginning to be raised that FIDE might be deliberately covering-up more of this cheating so as to not frighten away potential sponsors.
If this is true, then this would be a serious violation not only of FIDE’s code of ethics, but also of the IOC and WADA’s most fundamental fair-play principles.
Grischuk speaks out: ‘suspicions‘
It is rare that such an established superstar as Alexander Grischuk would speak out about cheating. Grischuk did not hold back! LINK
Ushenina won a total of $12,000 for her victory. No doubt Grischuk’s strong words were partly influenced by his wife — who was also participating in this tournament — but they reflect a genuinely sincere concern about the sad direction that chess has recently taken.
He called cheating in chess ”a cancer”, and wondered that it is strange that FIDE has not caught more cheaters. The only two high-profile exceptions are grandmasters Igor Rausis and Gaioz Nigalidze.
Grischuk went on and talked about the alleged cheating that took place at the 2005 World Championship tournament in San Luis, and which I discussed in a previous blog article. He also had some strong words about Ken Regan‘s well publicized efforts to detect cheaters by statistical means.
The Munkhzul Turmunkh Incidents
Alexi Shirov is another superstar who does not mind occassionally getting his hands dirty when discussing cheating. In the above FaceBook statement Alexi makes it clear that FIDE has a lot to explain how the Mongolian player could have escaped their cheating detection program. (More on this a bit later on when it becomes clear that FIDE Director Emil Sutovsky might have something to do with this)
It is worth noting that the ‘Title Tuesday’ tournament that he played in had NOTHING to do with FIDE. In this tournament Turmunkh’s cheating was immediately detected and she was banned from that moment on.
Poland’s Cheating Star…
It is hard to believe that Poland – a country with such a rich chess tradition – is quickly becoming known for its cheating youth.
Seventeen year old Patrycja Waszczuk is a European Champion in her age group. Her name has come up often this week in social media for allegedly cheating in the recently finished Polish Women’s Championship.
Polish superstar Michal Krasenkov writes/quotes on his FaceBook:
During the Polish Women’s Championships in Ostrów Wielkopolski, everyone knew that there was something wrong.
Polish Vice Champion Klaudia Kulon claims that her opponent cheated 99,9 %. Despite the use of detectors, nothing has been proven to her rival.
A chess cheater will always be caught it’s only a matter of time.
Alexi Shirov’s FaceBook has also mentioned Waszczuk’s name several times, just today he pointed out FIDE Director Sutovsky’s absolute silence in her case:
This same youngster was caught cheating just days ago…she was thrown out of the Ustron Tournament (Poland, August 16 to 22) immediately when confronted. Once more I quote what Michal Krasenkov writes/cites on his FaceBook page:
Chess Scandal. At the Chess Festival in Ustroń, a titled young chess player, medalist of the Polish Championships, a medalist of the European Chess Championships, who cheated during the game was caught.
The issue is very sad for our chess community and everyone now expects a firm reaction from Polski Związek Szachowy. This reaction was missing during online tournaments, where cheaters were not punished (ban accounts via chess.com is a weak argument that would force a young chess player to reflect).
Such chess scam should not be swept under the carpet so that the next juniors do not go the same way. The way of shame…
Krasenkov then goes on in his FaceBook taking a look at 3 of the youngster’s most recent tournaments, comparing all of her games to what a strong chess engine would play. Remarkably, only one game scored less than 94% match with what was the computer’s first line(!), and most were much higher! (Krasenkov is quoting largely from another FaceBook.)
Elisabeth Paehtz’ Admission
Perhaps the most remarkable story about women’s chess this week is from Germany’s top female player, Elisabeth Paehtz!
Elisabeth — whom I know very well and have a very high respect for her character and chess skill — was banned from one of the chess platforms.
Realizing that this could have very negative reprecussions for her professional status, Elisabeth came clean with an open letter, carefully weighing the embarrassment that this involves with the necessity to explain what really happened. Her reputation was on the line…
Definitely a bizarre story! In my opinion, very credible. The social media, however, especially Reddit, have really given her a hard time. It is understandable that she withdrew from the German Online Olympic Team.
I have played Elisabeth and I know that she is capable of defeating very strong grandmasters without any outside help. However, I believe that her story raises several serious ethical issues about how her online presence is managed.
I trust that she will deal with them very quickly, and put this controversy behind her.
Post Script: LINK
To be continued in Part II
The Sutovsky Revelation