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Chess Notes

The swift calculation of computers cannot be matched by human beings. The computer is now a silent coach for anyone with grandmaster ambitions. In addition, it can be a silent kibitzer and, while sitting on the sidelines, a threat to honest chess. A small percentage of chess players are willing to cheat for money or phony honors. They are a constant problem for tournament directors who often lack the resources to guard against them. They are a problem for honest competitors who have a pride in mental accomplishments and adoration of the game.

Cheating is a problem in virtually all sports. Before the computer, cheating was a minor inconvenience. It mostly consisted of harboring prepared openings, which could be written on one’s sleeve. The great player Reuben Fine was discovered as a youngster consulting a book in the men’s room, but was forgiven.

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As the computer appeared, more rogue players showed up. The World Open has seen one of the strangest cheating episodes in chess history. In1993, an unrated player, using the name of John von Neumann, showed up. He drew a grandmaster in round 2 but in round 4 he lost on time on move 9! Well, this brought a lot of attention. It seems that he was receiving communications from a partner back in a hotel room. And when this communication broke down, von Neumann could only sit there and wait for his flag to drop — as he didn’t even know how to move the pieces on his own.

The foremost international tournaments are certainly honest. However, sectional tournaments where there is money to be made are vulnerable and team tournaments have turned up violations. In an Olympiad, a French player had accomplices who communicated moves from a chess program by cellphone and by standing near various tables. As a result, the tournaments have delayed reporting live games for a few minutes to prevent such shenanigans. In Germany, there have been two recent violations, one in which a player was banned from German chess for two years for admitting to using a chess program on his smartphone. In the most recent example, a player refused to give the tournament director access to his smartphone, claiming his right to privacy. This refusal caused the TD to forfeit his ongoing game. Claims of privacy with respect to smartphones are just alibis. Players must leave their smartphones at home.

Every form of law violation, unfortunately, requires inconvenient controls as more and more players will be restricted or monitored in their movements. Cheaters will be barred from tournament chess. Players will not be permitted to bring electronic devices into the tournament area. It has even been suggested that jamming equipment might be installed to prevent any form of communication. Cheating is simply a problem that will not destroy chess but will not go away.

Brevity: J. Rudd vs. M.Simons (2000) 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.dxe6 Bxe6 5.d4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Qe7 8.Qe2 Nc6 9.Nf3 0–0–0 10.d5 Rhe8 11.Kd1 Nxd5 12.cxd5 Bxd5 13.Nfd2 Qf6 14.Qd3 Bxg2 15.Qb3 Bxh1 16.Nc3 Bf3+ 17.Kc1 Re1+ 18.Kc2 Nd4+ 19.Kd3 Nxb3+ 20.Kc2 Nxa1; mate

Winners: Metrowest October Swiss — tie for 1st, Igor Foygel and James Rizzitano, 4.5-.5; Boylston Scholastic — 1st, Christopher Ye, 2d, A. Mehra, 3d, Eric Han.

Coming Events: Boylston Elaine Kahn Memorial, Nov. 17, and Greg Hager Memorial, Nov.24, both at 240B Elm St., Somerville; www.boylstonchessclub.org: First State Championship/Spiegel Cup Qualifier, Nov.18, Crowne Plaza, 15 Middlesex Canal Park Road, Woburn, info@masschess.org

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