Top chess player accused of using smartphone to cheat during competition

Sneaking into the bathroom with your smartphone to check out the best way to beat your opponent is probably the worst move you can make in a game of chess, but that’s the charge against Grandmaster Igors Rausis afterwards. that he would have been caught in the act Friday July 12.

Rausis was playing in a tournament in Strasbourg, France, when he walked over to the bathroom for a break. Shortly thereafter, a smartphone was found in the cabin, with the chess player subsequently signing a statement confirming the device was his own.

Pressure on the player increased when social media users began circulating a photo – also posted by The Times – claiming to show Rausis during Friday’s restroom break. In the image, he can be seen checking his phone while sitting on the closed toilet lid.

The Latvian-Czech player then appeared to admit to using his phone during the bathroom break, telling “I just lost my mind yesterday” and adding: “I already played my last game of chess”. However, the post noted that at this point it is still not clear whether he was receiving help from software or perhaps other means.

While there is no proven evidence to suggest that Rausis, 58, used a smartphone to aid his chess performance before Friday, chess fans have long suspected his behavior after noticing that his player rating s ‘was improving at an unusually fast rate.

In fact, Yuri Garrett of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) revealed on Friday that officials have been closely following “a player” for months after using software designed to alert them to unusual performance and trends among players.

Phones have been banned in chess tournaments for several years now, with some high profile events requiring players to go through metal detectors before a game begins. However, that doesn’t prevent a phone from being hidden in a bathroom before a game starts.

The FIDE Ethics Committee is currently examining Rausis’ case to decide what to do next.

Commenting on the issue of cheating in competitive chess – whether with a smartphone or by other means – David Llada, FIDE communications director, told Digital Trends: “Looking at the big picture, I am relieved to say that the number of cases is minimal ”, adding:“ It is, by far, a much smaller problem than doping is in other sports. ”

Indeed, the last high profile case of a top chess player using a smartphone to gain the advantage in a tournament occurred in 2015. Georgian grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze was stripped of his title and s ‘has been given a three-year suspension after using a chess app during a game at an international tournament in Dubai. After several trips to the bathroom during the game, officials checked the booth and found a phone hidden inside. The device had a chess app reflecting the configuration of the current chess board. Authorities were able to confirm that the phone belonged to Nigalidze because it was also logged into his Facebook account.

Updated July 15, 2019: Added comment from David Llada

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