In what turned out to be possibly the worst move of his life, chess grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze has been caught apparently using a smartphone to analyze his moves during a game at an international tournament in Dubai Nigalidze, Georgia’s reigning national champion, was up against Armenian Tigran Petrosian at this month’s Dubai Open, the BBC reports.
Suspicions were aroused when those watching the crucial sixth-round encounter noticed how Nigalidze would scuttle off to the bathroom after each move during a particularly critical stage of the game. What’s more, the 26-year-old would always enter the same cubicle, despite several others also being available.
Petrosian, too, noticed all was not well. “Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet,” he told Chess News. “Twice, I made my moves promptly so that he couldn’t leave, and he made mistakes on those occasions.”
With the game continuing, officials decided to check out the cubicle to see if they could discover whether Nigalidze’s frequent bathroom trips were more than simply a case of extreme nerves. Perhaps not entirely to their surprise, they found a smartphone covered with paper on the floor behind the toilet, but when the officials confronted Nigalidze during the game, the chess champion denied the phone was his.
However, when they turned it on, it didn’t take long to find a program analyzing Nigalidze’s game against Petrosian, with all the pieces in their corresponding positions. And if that wasn’t enough, the officials also saw that the phone was logged into Nigalidze’s Facebook account.
As a result of his action, Nigalidze has been kicked out of the tournament and could face a three-year ban if the complaint against him is upheld by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
With computing devices becoming ever smaller and easier to hide, FIDE officials told the BBC they’re having to work harder at sniffing out cheats. As part of its efforts, the federation is using metal detectors and cell phone blockers, as well as carrying out random checks on players to confirm they’re not carrying any gadgets that might give them an unfair advantage.
While cheating among the top players is thought to be rare, those further down the ranks have been caught in the past, including an Iranian player at the Dubai Open in 2008 who was banned after he was found taking tips via text message.