Friday 23 March 2018

French chess stars use text messages to cheat

Henry Samuel in Paris

THREE leading French chess players have been found guilty of cheating in last year's world championship, using a mobile phone messaging system.

The French chess federation has suspended Sebastien Feller, a 20 year-old grandmaster, his team-mate Cyril Marzolo (32) and Arnaud Hauchard (39), the team captain. It said they used text messages, a remote chess computer and coded signals.

The fraud, which took place during last September's Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, has shaken the chess world, which prides itself on its code of honour.

Rival teams have been known to accuse each other of cheating, but in this case the whistle-blower was the French federation's own vice-president, Joanna Pomian.

She became suspicious when she found a text message addressed to Mr Marzolo, which read: "Hurry up and send me some moves." It was sent from Russia by Mr Hauchard.

She examined Mr Marzolo's itemised phone bill and found that he had sent more than 150 text messages to Mr Feller during the tournament, plus 30 texts to Mr Hauchard.

The federation said the system required Mr Marzolo to follow the game via the internet. He logged the moves into a chess computer and then sent its suggested moves to Mr Hauchard using codes.

The captain communicated these to Mr Feller during his match by standing next to a particular player who represented a pre-agreed number and a figure. Mr Feller won three games at the tournament, enough to earn him a gold medal and €5,000.

Mr Feller and Mr Marzolo were given five-year suspensions while Mr Hauchard received a life ban from being team captain or a coach.

The three deny any wrongdoing and have appealed against the ruling. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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