How to cheat in chess?

As the level of players advances in the direction of high technology, the cheats are also more sophisticated than before.

At the beginning of September with many ups and downs, the world chess village stood still when grandmaster Magnus Carlsen lost to Hans Niemann. The defeat ended Carlsen’s 53-match winning streak immediately attracting the attention of chess professionals and enthusiasts.

Magnus Carlsen announces his departure from the Sinquefield Cup tournament, accompanied by a post Twitter many hidden meanings. Carlsen shared the video with the content of coach José Mourinho’s interview, saying: “I don’t want to say anything. If I open my mouth, I’ll be in big trouble“.

Not long after the shocking event, another incident occurred at the Julius Baer Generation Cup chess tournament; This time, the hidden message to the entire community of intellectual sports enthusiasts is a bit clearer. On September 19, the reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen suddenly asked to lose after only one move.

To the surprise of the commentators, chess player Magnus Carlsen apologized, turned off the camera and disappeared from the game being played online. His opponent, the 19-year-old American player, got an easy victory.

Grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann from the United States won twice in a row against Magnus Carlsen. The first game Niemann surprised the whole chess village, but in the rematch with the same result, it was Carlsen who surprised everyone.

The moment grandmaster Magnus Carlsen apologized, leaving the game in silence. Source: Twitter.

It seems that the message Carlsen wants to send is clear: he does not want to sit at the table with a player who has been accused of cheating and has “dipped indigo” in the past.

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Chess has existed for thousands of years, attracting the brightest minds on the planet to compete. Over time, the treacherous nature of man, which has existed since the dawn of time, is even more evident when the element of awards and fame is put on the balance. To win, chess players from ancient times to ancient times applied countless tricks to gain the upper hand.

However, this article will temporarily ignore the ten ways of cheating, such as intentionally making the wrong move, touching a piece but not making a move or changing your rank by intentionally losing. The above tricks have all appeared in tournaments large and small, but now they are so obvious and easy to detect that there are not many players who commit them, whether accidentally or intentionally.

The scams are now much more advanced, as technology advances day by day.

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Ever since the day chess machines began to take over the chess world, people have thought about using artificial computing power to outdo the grandmasters.

At the 1993 World Open tournament, world chess history recorded one of the first cases of cheating using technology. An unranked player won 4½ out of 9 games, even drawing a grandmaster. However, the player used headphones while playing and hid in his pocket a suspicious object, which vibrated several times during the match. When it was discovered that this player did not know the most basic rules of chess, the new organizers or “players” cheated.

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When cheat devices are as small as common smartphones or just software running on phones, cheaters have a new move, which is to go to the bathroom. Many times, the organizers have discovered that chess players secretly use their phones in the toilet to find the best move, by calling their accomplices or by consulting high-end computer systems to play chess.

One level more advanced, there will be players who use vibrator to ask the match watchers to give them a hint. Accomplices were either other chess masters, or were experts in the use of advanced chess playing systems, which insiders referred to as “chess engines”.

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In the past three decades, the “chess engine”, roughly translated as “chess machine”, has become more and more modern. The large, complex machines used in human testing can now be operated remotely thanks to the Internet. The machine’s analysis can predict 18 moves in advance, predicting the play of the grandmasters to be able to make the most optimal move to help cheaters get more control.

According to information posted by The Atlantic, the chess machine now possesses the brain power of a superman when it has achieved an Elo score as high as over 3000. A system of the world’s most powerful chess machine is called Stockfish, capital. used by chess commentators to analyze the possible moves of chess players, with an Elo score of up to 3500.

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The problem of cheating in chess is pushed to a new level during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the act of cheating is extremely simple. With only a rudimentary chess machine system, a player can get a decent Elo score. In low-level tournaments, “catching” a cheater is not too difficult: just look at how the player uses moves that are too subtle and effective compared to Elo, this player is certain. outside help is available.

According to the statistics of the world famous chess platform, in November 2020, they locked 18,000 accounts for breaking the law, more than in any previous month. The list of accounts that are permanently banned includes both new players and high Elo grandmasters.

But at prestigious tournaments, the grandmasters already know most of the optimal moves for them, and will only need to be reminded 1-2 times that they can turn the game around. That’s why it’s so hard to catch cheating at major tournaments.

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Chess grandmaster Sutovsky calls this unsportsmanlike behavior “intelligent cheating”, where players only need to prompt a move at key moments, usually mid-game (the term is called the “mid” phase). -game”). A player no longer has to ask to go to the bathroom to consult the software, but an in-body vibrator prompts the move with predefined signals. Instead of a good dribble, a horse sent to a dangerous position can give the cheater the upper hand.

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Magnus Carlsen, the grandmaster who is said to be the greatest chess player in history, has no evidence to accuse Hans Niemann of cheating. The chess community split apart and then split into two opinions: one side was the supporters of Niemann, when there was no clear evidence that he cheated. The data from his win against Carlsen also showed no signs of cheating, when tested with several well-known fraud detection tools.

On the other hand, many famous players believe the accusations of the world’s number one grandmaster, and that Carlsen has his own reasons to dare to make such an accusation. Carlsen revealed part of the reason in a September 27 Twitter post:

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Doubts continued to accumulate when the community listened to Niemann’s interview after the historic match. He said that in the past, Carlsen had used this position, specifically at the 2018 London Chess Classic when he faced Wesley So. However, neither Magnus Carlsen nor Wesley So participated in the aforementioned chess tournament. And yet, Hans Niemann also admitted that he had cheated twice in the past, when he was still a young and inexperienced player.

At the present time, the organization FIDE has stepped in, sending the best experts to investigate the fraud allegations that are shaking the chess world. FIDE expects the player community to stop the allegations, until the truth is revealed and when the investigation is over.


On October 4, 2022, the investigative unit published a 72-page report showing that American chess player Hans Niemann cheated in more than 100 chess games. At the same time, they discovered that at least 10 of the top 100 grandmasters cheated, with 4 players admitting their unsportsmanlike behavior.

Meanwhile, FIDE is still continuing with its investigations with 3 chess experts.


On November 9, the organizers of the Sinquefield Cup tournament completed the investigation process and confirmed: no signs of cheating of any players were detected during the tournament.


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