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Uproar as `Fritz' game helps chess cheat

THE German chess world is in uproar over a minor league club player whose stunning victories against Russian grandmasters were allegedly the result of an electronic fraud rather than mastery of the game.

Clemens Allwermann (55) is a retired hi-fi salesman who until recently was content to play at his local clubhouse in southern Germany. Suddenly, at a chess tournament in Boblingen, he won mate in eight moves against the Russian grandmaster Sergei Kalinichev, one of the world's top players, and stormed on to win first prize.

Again and again, the crucial game was replayed by German chess enthusiasts to analyse Herr Allwermann's lucid play. Then somebody noticed the similarity between the moves, and those proposed by the computer chess programme `Fritz 5.32'. The game, so to speak, was up.

Herr Allwermann, it appears, used a messager hidden on his lap. The grandmaster would make his move and Herr Allwermann, reaching down apparently to adjust his trousers, would punch it into the device.

At the other end of the transmitter was an accomplice in a room in the tournament hotel. The friend typed the moves into Fritz 5.32 and waited for the computer's advice. The counter-moves were then relayed into a miniature ear receiver concealed by Herr Allwermann's long hair.

After his surprising victories he has been so closely watched by spectators that he has lost every game. Electronics shops have confirmed that they sold the apparatus to Herr Allwermann and the chess authorities are calling for blood.

German Chess Federation president Egon Ditt wants Herr Allwermann to be banned for several years. ``This is not just a prank. We have to send a signal to the world that chess tournaments are not going to be distorted in the same way that chemical doping has distorted athletics,'' he said.

( The Times, London)

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