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Ever since 16th-century chess master Ruy Lopez advised players to position the board so that the sun was in their opponent’s eyes, dirty tricks and cheating have been a part of chess.

In pre-computer days, arbiters would have to be vigilant that players were not sneaking books or written notes into the tournament hall. The advent of smartphones and chess-playing programs has made enforcement more difficult.

And with the massive growth of online tournaments during the pandemic, an even more vexing problem has arisen. How do you stop players from cheating in the comfort of their own homes?

In serious events, organizers have come up with techniques. Using one or two cameras, detecting eye movements, and post-game computer analysis of games are key tools. It regularly exposes cheaters at all levels.

The most ridiculous example came last year when Indian billionaire Nikhil Kamath lost a pawn on the first move against Viswanathan Anand in a charity simultaneous exhibition. But Kamath proceeded to crush the former world champion, playing near-flawless moves.

When computers showed his accuracy rate was near 99 per cent, Kamath quickly admitted he had cheated. “In hindsight, it was quite silly,” he said.

Viswanathan Anand v Nikhil Kamath, Online Simul, 2021


Black plays a computer-like move to gain an advantage. What is it?

Black played 28. … Bg4! Most humans would see that 29.Bxg4 Nxg4 30.Qe8+ Kh7 31.Qe4+ wins either Rook or Knight, forcing Qg6 and equality. But the computer sees Black can play 31. … g6 which wins. For example, 32.Qxc2 Qxh2+ 33.Kf1 Ne3+ or 32.Qxg4 Qc5+ 33.Kh1 Rc1+ 34.Nd1 Qxd5.