Friday, 1 April 2011

Paranoia runs deep

Despite being found guilty by the French Chess Federation of cheating at the 2010 Olympiad, Sebastien Feller is currently playing in the European Championship, as he is appealing the decision, and the punishment handed down is therefore on hold. Clearly the case (and possibly Feller's presence) is having an effect on others players, as an open letter, signed by many of the participants, appeared part way through the tournament, asking the organisers to take harsher actions to prevent cheating. The letter asked that arbiters be allowed to search players, to ban all electronic devices from the playing halls, and to unplug DGT boards if a player requests it.
Interestingly the prime mover of the letter was Francisco Vellejo Pons, and it appeared the day before he was due to play Feller! Nonetheless it was signed by other players in the event as well.
While it is clear that the players are concerned about (a) cheating or (b) being worried their opponent is cheating, I have two points to make. Firstly, demands to 'do something' can often lead to unintended consequences (ie players being disqualified for accidentally leaving a switched off phone in a jacket) , and secondly, a determined cheater will try and find a way around the restrictions.
Having said this, it doesn't mean organisers should do nothing. At this years Doeberl Cup, we are taking steps to deal with the possibility that cheating may occur. It won't be as draconian as metal detectors and body searches, but it will include prohibitions on talking to people with laptops/computers in front of them, as well as a high degree of vigilance from the arbiting team. Of course this is pretty much what we've done in previous years (although the laptop rule is new), but in the current atmosphere it will hopefully allow players to concentrate on their games, rather than what their opponent may or may not be doing.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Why would a Grand Master have to resort to cheating anyway ? Just hint of such a thing could make him a pariah.