An article, Tech mate? Top grandmaster claims chess is riddled with cheats using smartphones, By Leon Watson, appeared in The Telegraph 21 Mar 2015. It must have flown under the radar because it was not mentioned by other chess based websites. It now seems prescient because underneath the headline one reads, “Daniel Gormally suggests many chess players now disappear to the toilet with their smartphones during games to work out their next move.” (

“The genteel world of British chess has been rocked after a top grandmaster claimed the game of kings is riddled with cheats.”

Daniel Gormally, 38, suggested the game is facing an epidemic of people popping to the loo during competitions and using mobile phones to work out their next move.

Mobile apps such as Droidfish and Shredder have made it easy to play chess on the move and analyse complex positions with so-called “chess engines”.

But despite handsets being banned in most tournaments on the English circuit, Gormally said there is nothing to stop players hiding in cubicles with them.”

“Gormally, from Durham, said: “There’s a few players in English chess whose ‘improvement’ I’ve found a bit suspicious, to say the least. But I won’t name any names.

“The worrying thing is the amount of chess players who cheat at chess, a game with very little money in it.”

Gormally, ranked 13 by the English Chess Federation, went on to say he believes chess is no different to sports like cycling which have been embroiled major drug taking scandals.

“The problem is that computers are so powerful,” he added. “It’s just a shame because now when you see someone have a significant improvement you think ‘hang on, wait a minute’ and it shouldn’t be that way.

“Of course, you can’t prove it. If somebody wants to go to the toilet once or twice in a match you wouldn’t be suspicious, but they could easily look at their phone and gain a significant improvement.”

“I don’t think it happens at the top level because they would get found out. The top players have press conferences after their matches and have to explain all their moves. But its at the lower level where it is a problem.”

Until GM Gaioz Nigalidze was caught with his pants down and his engine up, this has been the accepted, conventional wisdom. The administrators of chess have tried to either ignore, or talk the problem to death. They failed, because it lives.

Who is Daniel Gormally? ” Gormally himself hit the headlines in 2006 – although for other reasons.

He was involved in a drunken punch-up in a nightclub after he saw a rival dancing with a female player, dubbed the “Anna Kournikova of chess”.

Gormally had struck up an email relationship with 19-year-old Aussie Arianne Caoili and was accused of hitting and shoving world number three Levon Aronian when he spotted the Armenian with her.

The day after the bust-up at a tournament in Turin, Italy, Gormally was attacked by fans of Aronian.”

That would not happen today because the best players are not old enough to drink an adult beverage.

“Telegraph chess correspondent Malcolm Pein, who runs the top level London Chess Classic tournament, said he is not aware of any allegations of cheating in the English game and the game is clamping down on the use of technology.

He added: “The chess community is very aware of the possibility of cheating and measures are being taken to prevent it.

“There are metal detectors now at some tournaments and all electronic devices are banned at most. At the London Chess Classic, which I run, the arbiters observe the audience to check for suspicious behaviour.

“Were there to be a drug invented that makes you better at chess, I would give it to my children and boost their exam results.”

Most parents would probably do the same thing with their children because they have done exactly that with all kind of psychotropic drugs without having any idea what effects the drugs will produce later in life. The next generation should be called the “guinea pig” generation. At least adult guinea pigs get paid. (

“The English Chess Federation’s chief executive Phil Ehr denied cheating is widespread in the game and said he is aware of only one English player in the past four years who was caught cheating with a mobile phone.”

This is typical of the F.I.P.s in control of chess today. They are in denial, and have been all of the early part of this century. During the broadcast of the last round of the US Open Championship, and the ancillary tournament reserved for women not strong enough to make the Open a film was played of GM Maurice Ashely interviewing Yuliya Levitan, a counselor on the FIDE anti-cheating commission. She was there to spout the party line while singing, “Everything is beautiful, in its own way”…and “Don’t worry/be happy.” The woman ran down a list of things FIDE is doing to thwart cheating, including “…players not having cellphones on them.”

The latest gizmo wizard, who will forever be known as the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, did not have a gizmo on him. He beat FIDE by leaving it in the toilet, which is where some say FIDE is headed. Yuliya mentioned something about “…keeping fans separate.” Maybe that should apply to a manager like Silvio Danilov.

She mentioned something about cameras, which made me think of the old TV show, Candid Camera, as in, “Smile, you’re on candid camera! Euuww, what ARE you doing?” FIDE will go ANYWHERE to prevent cheating! Anywhere but Russia, where in a tournament like Aeroflot, players conspire to draw games in the opening and, who knows, maybe even throw games, as happened between the nefarious Russians in the last round of the recent 2015 European Championship. She also mentioned “metal detectors,” and one could not help but notice the security guard behind Maurice holding, you guessed it, a metal detector.

Ms. Levitan also mentioned something about “…investigations going on. I cannot comment on those.” Too bad someone is not investigating FIDE…

The interview comes at the 3:06 mark and you can watch it, which is exactly what I did again. I wanted to make sure I quoted the woman correctly. She said, “Once again, more concern for the open tournaments. It does not happen often in professional chess…it does happen on higher level, but usually it happens on lower levels.”

Until the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, this has been the “party-line.” The cat is now out of the bag, or should I say the genie is out of the bottle. Every result the “Dubai Cheater” has ever had is now suspect. Actually, one could drop the “Dubai Cheater” and just say that every FIDE result is suspect.

GM Gaioz Nigalidze Caught Cheating!

The headline dated Sunday, 12.04.2015 says it all: Gaioz Nigalidze, Twice Georgian Champion, Caught Cheating.

The chiseler was caught red-handed at the Dubai Open.

In the article at GM Tigran Petrosian says, “”I was suspicious about my opponent already after the tournament in Al Ain in December, where we both had been taking part. Nigalidze won that tournament; during our game he would go to the toilet very often, as well as this time. However, in Al Ain I had no evidence, I could only make guesses. Today, my suspicions have been confirmed…

In our today’s game, Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet. Twice, I made my moves promptly as well, so that he couldn’t leave, and he made mistakes on those occasions. Then I decided to keep an eye on him. I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren’t occupied.

I informed the chief arbiter about my growing suspicions and asked him to keep an eye on Gaioz. After some time, the arbiter approached me and said that he had checked my opponent and found nothing. I asked him to check Nigalidze again, because I was already sure that something was wrong.

After my opponent left the very toilet partition yet another time, the arbiters entered it. What they found was the mobile phone with headphones; the device was hidden behind the pan and covered with toilet paper.

We both were sitting at the board, when the chief arbiter came up to Nigalidze and showed him the mobile phone, asking: “Is this yours?” Nigalidze blushed, got confused and couldn’t say anything.

The arbiter forfeited him in the game. I went outdoors, and Gaioz approached me. I thought he was going to apologize, but he only asked me what was going to happen to him as a result.”

It used to be the only players caught cheating were not very good, but now that a Grandmaster has been caught using a gizmo to cheat it is obvious chess cannot withstand the rise of the programs. Every game this man has played is now suspect. Everyone who plays chess is a suspect. How long do you think chess will be played?


Gaioz Nigalidze

Wesley So Learned the Hard Way

Gotta Serve Somebody by Bob Dylan

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You might be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Copyright © 1979 by Special Rider Music

Tony Rich is The Arbiter

Tony Rich is the Chief Arbiter of the 2015 US Championships. Wesley So was until this tournament, one of the top ten highest rated chess players in the world. Mr. Rich had previously warned Mr. So about taking notes during the game, which is a violation of the rules of FIDE, the governing body of world chess. During the game between Wesley So and Varuzhan Akobian in today’s ninth round the latter brought it to the attention of the Chief Arbiter that Mr. So was violating the rules of chess. The Chief Arbiter, Tony Rich, then forfeited Wesley So.

As I watched the live coverage today my thoughts drifted back to last decade when I, too, had to go into the back room with of the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center with the arbiter during a tournament. Fortunately I was not the one forfeited. Until today the incident in which I was involved at the relatively new St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center with a young boys father in which the latter told his son to violate a rule by continuing to look at the chessboard on his Monroi gizmo in lieu of the actual chessboard, even though the father had promised to not advise his son to do so, was the most egregious incident to ever occur at the Scholastic Center and Chess Club. The incident is still brought up and discussed. Thanks to Wesley So, it may well forgotten.

Chess in Schools and Communities Initiative

LM Brian McCarthy left a comment on the previous post and provided a very interesting link. Brian writes, “Susan Sallon explores the impact of chess on primary school children’s cognitive development. She debunks every last study before hers as being flawed by low numbers as you say or bad methodology or both. Her’s is hard to find fault with, unless you want every grade tested in the same fashion.”

I would urge anyone with interest in this subject to read what Susan has to say. For example, I quoted GM Yasser Seirwan in the previous post concerning the “Margulies” study. This is what Susan has to say about that particular study:

“In the South Bronx NYC, Stuart Margulies (1990 – 1992) conducted a study to look at changes in reading scores after chess instruction. Mid-elementary school children joined chess clubs at school. In the 1st year, they received instruction by chess masters. In the 2nd year, they also participated in computer-supported chess activities. Chess club membership was voluntary. Before the study began, students were assessed, using a standardised reading test. In this instance, the “control” group was the National Norm for the same grade students in the same school district. Students in the chess group made greater improvements than the national norm. However, since the chess group had higher pre-test scores than the control, Margulies aimed to address the selection bias, by comparing the chess group scores with those of a non-chess control group, consisting of children with pre-test scores comparable to the chess group. But again, the chess group showed more gains than the control group. However, Margulies himself, is quick to point out that “chess participants form a pool of intellectually gifted and talented students. Students who join this group make contact with a core of high achievers and thereby develop more academic interest, speak at higher levels of standard speech……”

Brian also provides a link to a page which contains an interesting study recently conducted in Great Britain by “the “Chess in Schools and Communities” Initiative (CSC) set up by International Chess Master, Malcolm Pein.” A link can be found in Brian’s comment, and I will provide a link to the PDF of “Susan Sallon explores the impact of chess on primary school children’s cognitive development.” (

This study appears to be very good news for the effect chess can have on students. It is possible that this is the best news of any study yet conducted on chess and education, at least from a chess perspective. Kudos to LM Brian McCarthy for sharing this information!

Former GCA Board member Tim Payne, who resigned from the board, along with the man I hope becomes the next President of the Georgia Chess Association, Frank Johnson, sends information about the “largest study in world about impact of chess on education is underway in Israel.” –

In an article, Can chess make you smarter? by Viva Sarah Press, dated January 23, 2013, we learn, “Boris Gelfand made all the right moves to become Israel’s highest-ranking chess player. Now, he’s partnering up with an Israeli university to launch the country’s first scientific research project focused on chess. The Grandmaster Chess Research Project is a one-of-a-kind initiative to develop a novel academic approach to the skills and culture of chess-playing that can, in turn, contribute to social and scientific development.”

We also learn, “Gelfand’s ranking as vice world champion is what triggered the Grandmaster Chess Research Project.” That is the first time in my four and a half decades I have heard anyone called a “vice world chess champion” although I will admit to having heard some called the “world champion of vice.”

“The program will provide an opportunity to achieve breakthrough research and social outreach in a field that has not yet been fully explored,” said University of Haifa Vice President and Dean of Research Prof. Michal Yerushalmy. The researchers will examine the impact of chess on students’ abilities in math, language acquisition, and other areas.”

“I am sure this will make our society better,” Gelfand said during a toast to launch the new research initiative. “I know leading intellectual professionals who succeeded thanks to their playing chess in school and continued playing alongside their professional development.”

My thanks to Tim Payne for sharing the information. Many detract from, but only a few “add to” the discussion, and I appreciate those, like Brian and Tim, who have added something pertinent. The more one knows the better the chances of obtaining the truth, at least in theory.

Can All the Talk Walk the Walk?

I read the March 27, 2015 edition of the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter, #703, by John Donaldson, the day it was published ( Of particular interest was this, “The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has done the chess world a favor by conducting a literature review to answer the question, “Does chess provide educational benefits?” (

I clicked on the link to find the headline: On Chess: Literature Review Gives Base To Claim Of Chess’ Educational Benefits. The article was written by Brian Jerauld, who “is the 2014 Chess Journalist of the Year, and the communications specialist for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. He is a 2001 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and has more than a decade of experience writing about boats, sports and other ways to relax.” It was dated Feb 12, 2015. Since I had posted a series of articles on this very subject during the latter part of February I could not help but wonder how this had been missed. Further pondering brought forth the question of why no one had commented on this study on the blog or on the USCF forum thread concerning my blog posts on the subject. (

Mr. Jerauld writes, “By now, the claim that chess comes packaged with hidden educational perks is a hype certainly heard around the world. And how could it not be believed? Just find some random piece of research that supports such big talk, tie it together with obvious, awesome-sounding hyperbole — like “decision-making skills” and “higher-order thinking” — and boom: You’ve got yourself some Grade-A propaganda.

Over the years, all this talk has given a rather rosy-colored narrative that always ends in support of chess curriculum implementation. But recently, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, whose scholastic program branched out to more than 3,000 students and hundreds of area schools last year, dropped the rhetoric and set out to discover if chess actually has an effect on its students.

Empirically, can all the talk walk the walk?”

Good question. Brian continues, “A year ago, the CCSCSL set out to apply a rigorous and critical eye of existing chess studies by commissioning Basis Policy Research, an independent research firm that focuses on K-12 educational exploration. The goal was to survey the entire landscape of existing chess research, digging back through more than four decades of random studies, and compile a literature review of what was actually known about chess’ impact on student outcomes.”

This is exactly the kind of study I wrote about in my post of February 27, 2015, Does Playing Chess Make You Smarter? ( The study mentioned, Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review, by Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli, ( is dated now, having been published a decade ago, so I looked forward with interest to new literature on the subject. In trying to be scientifically objective, and also being a chess player, I relish a refutation. If new information refutes previous thinking, humans advance. For example, studies were done in the middle of the last century on the amount of radiation harmful to humans. During the course of my life the amount needed has been constantly lowered until now it is an accepted fact that even the lowest amount of radiation detected is deleterious to a human being. Decades ago there were many studies done on the effects of smoking cigarettes, funded by the tobacco industry, which concluded smoking caused no problems whatsoever to a human being. Over the years I have learned how difficult it is for old(er) people to change their preconceived ideas. For example, when I was young it was an accepted fact that an ulcer was caused by stress. It is now known that an ulcer is caused by a virus. My father was unable to wrap his mind around that fact, continuing to believe stress was the cause. There are many examples in the scientific community of a scientist with stature in the community refusing to accept evidence contrary to that with which his career was built. Change is difficult, and some people will stubbornly cling to the old ways “come hell or high water.” I try not to be one of those people. I do not care who is right, or wrong, but what is right, and what is wrong.

During the telecast of the third round of the US Championships yesterday the new study was mentioned by Jennifer Shahade when she said, “St.Louis commissioned a study that showed…they didn’t know what the study was going to say. They wanted to find out what kind of connections chess had to academic performance, and surprisingly, the main connection was math and chess.” GM Yasser Seirawan said, “Really?” Jen continued, “Yes, specifically math and chess.” To which Yasser responded, “I remember the Margolis study where it was about reading.” This comes at the 3:42:30 mark of the broadcast.

I clicked on the link and downloaded the PDF in order to read the new study, Literature Review of Chess Studies, By
Anna Nicotera, and David Stuit, dated November 2014. (
“This literature review identified 51 studies of chess. Twenty-four of the 51 studies met a set of pre-determined criteria for eligibility and were included in analyses. Results from the literature review were categorized by the quality of the study design and organized by whether the studies examined after-school or in-school chess programs. The main findings from this literature review are:
1. After-school chess programs had a positive and statistically significant impact on student mathematics outcomes.
2. In-school chess interventions had a positive and statistically significant impact on student mathematics and cognitive outcomes.
Although the findings are interesting, they do come with this caveat, “While the two primary outcomes listed above are based on studies that used rigorous research design methodologies, the results should be interpreted cautiously given the small number of eligible studies that the pooled results encompass.”

This is a caveat huge as the Grand Canyon. It is called a “small sample size.” If a baseball player goes one for three during a single game his batting average is .333, which is outstanding. This does not mean he will finish the season with a batting average of .333. Even if the batter hits .333 for a week, or even a month, it does not mean he will finish the long season hitting .333. If a chess player wins one tournament, even a so-called “Super tournament,” it does not mean he will become World Champion. Sofia Polgar had one super outstanding result with what I seem to recall a performance rating that was higher than any her sister Judit obtained in any one tournament. Yet Sophia did not attain the status that did Judit, because that one tournament is considered to be a limited sample size.

The authors studied the same studies as did Fernand Gobet and Guillermo Campitelli. The discredited Ferguson study is included among those studied, as is the Margolis study mentioned by GM Yasser Seirawan. While considering this post and thinking about IM John Donaldson, GM Yasser Seirawan, and to an extent, NM Jennifer Shahade, I kept thinking about something Upton Sinclair wrote – “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

My thoughts also keep going back to something else written by Gobet and Campitelli: “In spite of these disagreements about the nature of transfer, some results are clear. In particular, recent research into expertise has clearly indicated that, the higher the level of expertise in a domain, the more limited the transfer will be (Ericsson & Charness, 1994). Moreover, reaching a high level of skill in domains such as chess, music or mathematics requires large amounts of practice to acquire the domain specific knowledge which determines expert performance. Inevitably, the time spent in developing such skills will impair the acquisition of other skills.”

Mr. Jerauld ends his article with, “The literature review is a huge first step for the CCSCSL, acknowledgment of the research that exists and laying the groundwork for future research that may be implemented through the club’s expansive scholastic initiative. The Basis Policy Research chess literature review has kicked off a new Research Portal, meant to serve as a repository to all global research — and to keep St. Louis on yet another forefront of chess.”

If this is truly “laying the groundwork for future research that may be implemented through the club’s expansive scholastic initiative,” I would suggest not only a rigorous, controlled, scientific, type study which would include a control group, but also a study of the same size to study the game of Go, as a counter balance to the chess study. This would obviously double the amount of money needed to fund these studies, but we are talking about a man who has a BILLION DOLLARS, so money is no object if Rex Sinquefield actually wants a fair and objective study, not one in which the scientists aim to please the man with the deep pockets.

The Upsetting NM Michael Corallo

Georgian NM Michael Corallo continues to show good form and is off to an excellent start at the 2015 Philadelphia Open playing upsetting chess! He has won his first three games and is tied for first place with three other players. Michael dispatched IM Esserman’s ( Najdorf in the second round and then beat fellow Atlantan, FM Daniel Gurevich in the third round using the dreaded Berlin defense. As I write Michael has Black against IM Akshat Chandra of New Jersey in a Nimzo-Indian, Qc2 variation. The games can be found at and Monroi.

Michael Corallo 2290 vs IM Marc Esserman 2427

Rd 2

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qb6 8.Bb3 e6 9.Qd2 Be7 10.O-O-O Nc5 11.Rhe1 h6 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Kb1 O-O 14.f4 Qc7 15.g4 b5 16.g5 hxg5 17.fxg5 Be5 18.g6 fxg6 19.Qg2 Nxb3 20.axb3 Rf6 21.Nf3 Bf4 22.e5 dxe5 23.Ne4 Rf8 24.Nfg5 Qe7 25.Rg1 Rf5 26.Qg4 Kf8 27.Qh4 Bxg5 28.Rxg5 Bb7 29.Nd6 Qf6 30.Nxf5 exf5 31.Rd7 1-0

FM Daniel Gurevich 2373 vs Michael Corallo 2290

Rd 3

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 O-O 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re1 Nf5 11.c3 d5 12.Nd2 Re8 13.Rxe8 Qxe8 14.Nf3 Nh4 15.Nxh4 Bxh4 16.Bf4 c6 17.Bd3 Bf6 18.Qc2 g6 19.Qd2 Be6 20.Re1 Qd7 21.Bg5 Bg7 22.h4 Re8 23.h5 Bg4 24.Rxe8 Qxe8 25.h6 Bf8 26.f3 Bd7 27.Kf2 Qe6 28.Qf4 Bd6 29.Qh4 Bf8 30.g4 c5 31.Bd8 cxd4 32.cxd4 Bb4 33.Qg5 Qe1 34.Kg2 Bd6 35.Qf6 Qd2 36.Kg1 Bf8 37.Bf1 Bxh6 38.Bc7 Bg5 0-1