The discovery led to Gaioz Nigalidze, chess champion of Georgia, being kicked out of the Dubai Open during his match against Armenian grandmaster Tigran L. Petrosian. Nigalidze could now be banned for up to 15 years, according to Sky News.
Bathroom trips raise suspicion
Opponent Petrosian became suspicious after Nigalidze made repeated trips to the bathroom during their sixth-round match on Saturday. Tournament officials later discovered an iPhone hidden under a pile of toilet paper in one of the cubicles.
Sunday morning’s announcement by the Dubai Chess and Culture Club confirmed that Nigalidze had been expelled from the tournament. A Facebook post by the Club showed a picture of Nigalidze’s phone alongside an official game sheet of moves. The post claimed that: “When confronted, Nigalidze denied he owned the device.”
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“But officials opened the smartphone and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze’s account. They also found his game being analysed in one of the chess applications,” the post continued.
There have been calls for the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to be more strict on computer cheats.
Chess world struggles to deal with cheats
During an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Petrosian told his side of the story. “Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet,” he said. “I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren’t occupied.”
He later informed tournament officials of his suspicions, and they discovered the iPhone after entering the toilet cubicle in question. In his defense, Nigalidze said: “Not everything is true in what Petrosian said.”
Cheating at chess tournaments has become easier with technology. Bulgarian Borislav Ivanov was banned for four months in 2013 because the majority of his moves matched those made by powerful chess computer programs, and during the 2008 edition of the Dubai Open, an Iranian player was kicked out after officials found that he had been receiving assistance via SMS.
The world of chess changed irrevocably almost 20 years ago after computers proved that they were powerful enough to beat the world’s best chess players. The first world chess champion to be beaten by a computer under tournament conditions was Garry Kasparov, in 1997.