Yet Another Chess Cheating Scandal

Teen at centre of new chess cheating scandal

By Ian Rogers

Just a few weeks after a photo of Grandmaster Igors Rausis analysing with a mobile phone inside a toilet cubicle went around the world, a new cheating scandal has blown up in the Netherlands.
Joris Boons,

a 19-year-old amateur from Utrecht, had enjoyed a dream run over the past few months, winning rating restricted tournaments in Hilversum, Haarlem and Amsterdam with perfect or near-perfect scores.

Boons’ convincing victories, from a player who had never shown exceptional talent previously, aroused suspicions, especially since he seemed to be visiting the toilet rather often.

So when Boons entered the third group of the recent Dutch Open in Dieren the organisers decided to be prepared. Unfortunately, their efforts to source a metal detector proved fruitless – until the penultimate round.
By then Boons had won every game bar one and seemed headed for a new tournament success. However in the eighth round the arbiters stopped Boons on his return from a toilet visit and asked to scan him. Boons refused.
He was taken to the arbiters’ office and after having been told the consequences of refusing screening, admitted to having a phone. The phone was shown to contain chess apps, but Boons claimed that he had never used them during a game. He was nonetheless forfeited (for phone possession), expelled from the tournament, and all his opponents during the event were given back the point they had lost against him.
Boons’ case has been referred to the world body FIDE, which is expected to implement a ban of two years. (The Rausis case, in which the cheating could have been taking place for as many as six years, may become FIDE’s first life ban.)
In many ways Boons is a far more typical cheat than Rausis, a teenage, overconfident, but weak player who wants to prove that they are cleverer than everyone else. (Australia has seen two.)
However the Rausis case is far more worrying. If a strong player decides to get occasional help with a hidden phone for just a few key moments in a game, it will be very hard to identify.
Only when 58-year-old Rausis became greedy, reaching the top 50 after winning half a dozen tournaments in Italy and France over the European spring and summer, did suspicion rise to the point where vigilante players decided to secretly photograph him in a cubicle and present the evidence to the world.
The warning signs have been been clear since at least 2015 when Georgian Grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze was banned after his mobile phone was found hidden behind a cistern at a tournament in Dubai.

Nigalidze was banned for three years but he had already won two Georgian Championships and a $15,000 first prize at an open event in Al Ain.
The moral seems to be that, despite isolated successes, current anti-cheating measures are inadequate and the integrity of the game is in serious danger.

Because of the internet being down for three days (It was up for about six hours four days ago before going away again, and had been down for at least two days prior to being up. It is like being in a third world country here in the USA. Thanks, AT&T!) I have been in the dark concerning the happenings in the world of Chess. I discovered this latest unfortunate news at the website of GM Kevin Spraggett (

Kevin writes, “Reality is that perhaps less than 1% of all the cheating taking place in todays tournaments is actually being identified. This is a serious issue. It is time for FIDE to get serious and purge the current FPC and start over.
It is time for FIDE to invest some money and buy the equipment that will stop cheaters cold.”

Unfortunately, the cost of the “equipment” needed to stop all cheating is prohibitively expensive. Only Draconian means will stop Chess cheating. Unfortunately someone must be made a martyr to send a message to all who may even be considering cheating at the Royal game. On the bright side, the name of the unfortunate human being stoned to death by Chess pieces on live internet TV will live forever.

Launching the h-pawn at the Leningrad Dutch

One of the best things about writing a blog is the response received from readers, most of which, fortunately, is positive. One of the emails received earlier this month, from a young man relatively new to Chess, had an influence on my deciding to continue writing the AW blog.

“I discovered your blog when looking for opening material on the Dutch opening. After reading all posts concerning the Dutch I decided to buy the book on the Leningrad Dutch

by GM Malaniuk which you have written about often. It was one of the best chess moves I have made off of the chess board. What I like about the book the most is how much of it is devoted to earlier deviations from the main lines. Most of my games venture away from the “book” moves very early in the game. Because of this I have found that to be successful in chess one must first study what is not “book” first in order to understand what is “book.” Most of my games do not reach an endgame, and if they do one side has a large advantage. Because of your blog I began playing some of the lesser played variations and found the better players were taking more time in the opening when before they would simply make their replies instantly. I have attempted to play many of the “offbeat” openings you advocate on your blog with success. For example, I have won games with the Bishop’s opening, and many of those have been won because of being able to play the Bxf7+ check. In the past year or so I have gained hundreds of rating points and now am a class D player. I attribute much of my success to your blog. It opened my mind. After looking at a game and making notes I then go to the ChessBomb and compare my notes with the variations given. Seeing the variations of how a game should have developed has helped my understanding of chess.

Before the last round of the 11th dMP Batavia GM 2019 Amsterdam (NED) IM Arthur Pijpers was tied with FM Jasel Lopez, both with 5 points. Pijpers was paired with GM Simon Williams, who had four points, and the white pieces. FM Jasel Lopez had white against Rick Lahaye, the only untitled player, who had 4 points.

The latter game began 1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6. This made me think of something you had written about always playing the move d6 when white plays both d4 and c4, so I looked it up on your blog and found you wrote, “As I recall one of the first chapters is titled, “Berzerk attacks.” This occurs when the Leningrad player allows white to fire the h4 salvo in the early opening phase of the game. Many failed experiments taught me to avoid h4 if at all possible. One of the ways to do this would be to delay playing g6 until after first playing d6, and then Nf6. White can still fire the h4 salvo, but it turns into a premature ejaculation. As a general rule I usually play d6 after the white pawns come to d4 and c4.”

Sure enough, Lopez played 4. h4 and Lahaye did not play 4…d6 but 4…Bg7. In the game mentioned above between GM Jahongir Vakhidov and GM Neil McDonald you wrote, “Vakhidov fired the h4 salvo on his fourth move, to which McDonald replied Bg7. Vak, in for a penny, in for a pound, continued pushing it in with 5 h5. Neil takes the sucker offa the board with Nxh5. When Vak fires his King pawn to e4 I am willing to wager Neil was wishing he had already played d6…At this point Stockfish, according to the CBDB would play fxe4. McDonald plays 6…e6. There follows, 7 exf5 exf5 8 Rxh5 gxh5 9 Qxh5+.”

Lopez did not play 6. e4 but a ChessBomb red move, 6. Rxh5? If Lopez had played 6. e4 he would have had a large advantage, according to ChessBomb of about a pawn and a half. Instead after taking with the rook he was down about half a pawn. That is a huge swing in the opening. What I do not understand is FM Lopez is rated 2390 and his opponent, even though untitled, is rated 2414, so they are obviously strong players. If a player is going to play an attacking line launching his h pawn, such as in this game it seems he would have at least studied the opening. If Lopez had read your post he would have known to play 6. e4! After the game moves of 6. Rxh5 gxh5 Lopez did play 7. e4 but then it was not good and he lost the game and a chance at first place. IM Arthur Pijpers was winning his game when he offered GM Williams a draw to clinch first place.

Thank you for writing such an interesting blog. I have learned about how to study and play winning chess from your blog. I hope you recover and decide to write again.”

Thank you, sir, for such positive feedback! If only all feedback were so nice…

I decided to put the opening of the game into the ChessBaseDataBase.

Jasel Lopez 2390 (ARU) – Rick Lahaye 2414 (NED)

dMP Batavia Chess Tournament 2019 round 9

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. h4 Bg7 5. h5 Nxh5 6. Rxh5 gxh5 7. e4 O-O 8. Qxh5 fxe4 9. Be3 e5 10. d5 d6 11. Nge2 Nd7 12. Ng3 Nf6 13. Qh1 c6 14. Bg5 cxd5 15. Nxd5 Be6 16. O-O-O Bxd5 17. Rxd5 Qb6 18. Bxf6 Rxf6 19. Nxe4 Rxf2 20. Nxf2 Qxf2 21. Rd2 Qe3 22. Kc2 Rf8 23. g3 e4 24. Bh3 Rf2 25. Be6+ Kh8 26. Rxf2 Qxf2+ 27. Kd1 e3 28. Qe1 Qf3+ 29. Qe2 Qe4 30. Qg4 Qd3+ 0-1

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. h4 Bg7 (Stockfish at the ChessBase Data Base show 4…d6 as the best move) 5. h5 Nxh5 6. Rxh5 (This is shown as a “red move” at the ChessBomb. Both Stockfish and Houdini at the CBDB give 6 e4 as a much superior move) gxh5 7. e4 (Now this move is not best as SF and Komodo prefer 7 Bg5, a move not shown at 365Chess. Only one game has been played with 7 Bg5:

K. Tsatsalashvili (2226) vs N. Batsiashvili (2425) Chennai Open (Women) 2013

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. h4 Bg7 5. h5 Nxh5 6.Rxh5 gxh5 7. Bg5 O-O 8. e3 c5 9. d5 d6 10. Nh3 Nd7 11. Nf4 Nf6 12. f3 a6 13.Bd3 Qe8 14. Qc2 h6 15. Bh4 e5 16. dxe6 Bxe6 17. O-O-O Bd7 18. Ncd5 Nxd5 19. Nxd5 Rf7 20. Re1 Be6 21. e4 f4 22. Qd2 Qf8 23. Nb6 Re8 24. e5 Bxe5 25. Bg6 Rf5 26. Nd5 Kg7 27. Bxe8 Qxe8 28. Ne7 Qf7 29. Nxf5+ Qxf5 30. Be7 Bd4 31. Bxd6 Be3 32. Rxe3 fxe3 33. Qxe3 Kg6 34. b3 b6 35. g3 Qf7 36. Bf8 Qxf8 37. Qxe6+ Kg7 38. Qe5+ Kg6 39. Qe6+ Kg7 40. f4 Qf6 41. Qe5 Kg6 1/2-1/2)

7…O-O 8. Qxh5 (This move, along with 8 e5 and Nh3 have been played, but Komodo and Houdini give 8 Bd3 as best)

Black, Rick Lahaye, has a huge advantage and went on the win the game which put him in a four way tie for second place, a half point behind winner IM Arthur Pijpers of the Netherlands. Tournament information can be found here:

Here are some previous posts on the Dutch: