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.


Halftime at the World Human Chess Championship

The sixth game of the 2018 World Human Chess Championship was drawn, as were the first five games.

There are multiple reasons all games have been drawn. The format of only twelve games lends itself to many drawn games. When Bobby Fischer

defeated Boris Spassky in 1972 the World Chess Championship was comprised of twenty four games. A player could lose a game, or two, as did Fischer to begin the match, and still have time to mount a comeback. In a much shorter match the combatants know one decisive game could be all she wrote. In addition, the players are evenly matched. One would expect extremely close games between the two best human players in the world. Then there is the fact that human players are much stronger and better than their predecessors. As Chess players improve there will be more draws, unless there are changes to the rules.

In the recent 2nd Du Te Cup 2018 played in Shenzhen, China 4th to 11th November 2018, six of the top Grandmasters in the World, rated between 2709 and 2816, played an eight round double round robin in which a total of twenty four games were played, only five of which ended in victory, and each was a win for the player with the white pieces. The first win did not come until the fifth round.

The recent TCEC computer program World Chess Championship is a possible indication of what could happen in future human tournaments and matches. Stockfish and Komodo played one hundred games; only twenty one were decisive. Stockfish won thirteen games with white; Komodo won five, for a total winning percentage of eighteen percent for white. Playing black Stockfish won only two games, while Komodo won only one. Only three percent of the games played ended in victory for the black pieces. Seventy nine percent of the games played by the two 3500 rated programs were drawn.


It was my intention to write something about the revelatory Chess articles being written at the website of ABC News, FiveThirtyEight (, which has been on my radar because of the excellent articles written about Major League Baseball. I first surfed over to FiveThirtyEight to read an article mentioned on another Baseball website and soon was surfing there every day, and not only because of the MLB atricles.

Mark Weeks over at Chess For All Ages beat me to the punch, so to speak, with his post Chess@538, dated 15 November, 2018 ( It is an excellent post which culminates with:

“The resulting brouhaha convinced one respected chess journalist, GM Ian Rogers of Australia, to resign his job working with the American team: @GMIanRogers: Sadly parting ways with @ChessLifeOnline after a decade… (

…I declined to accept edits to my round 4 World Ch’p report which would downplay responsibility of editors of the Caruana video, downplay the effect of the video on Caruana’s chances, and omit the key image from the video.

On top of that, all of the videos produced by the St.Louis Chess Club disappeared from Youtube. Out of sight, out of mind? Hardly. Someone in St.Louis is guilty of an unprofessional lapse of judgement. That’s the person who should resign — not a journalist doing the job he was paid to do.”

I must concur conclusively with Mark’s astute assessment of the situation. Who is guilty in St. Louis? Inquiring minds want to know…

In the latest column by Oliver Roeder, Chess World Rattled As Someone Nearly Wins Game, it is written, “Chess players are second only to maybe biological taxonomists in their proclivity to elaborately name things, and sure enough even this rare position has its own proper name: the Karklins-Martinovsky Variation. But neither player was troubled by Karklins-Martinovsky, they said after the game. Its theory is well known to these elite players.

And so they played on. The powerful queens came off the board by move 8, but this loss took no edge off the fight. For a while, the game looked less like a battle and more like a dressage competition, as 66 percent or more of each player’s first 12 moves were knight moves.”

The following paragraph can be found in the November 16 post by Mr. Roeder:

“The data scientist Randal Olson analyzed hundreds of thousands of chess games in an article a few years ago. The closer players are in rating, he found, the longer games tend to go. And as the players get better, draws become far more common. Carlsen and Caruana are as good — and about as close in rating — as you can get. Indeed, they are even beyond the scope of Olson’s chart below, with Elo ratings (which measure the strength of players given the opponents they’ve played) north of 2800.”

I clicked on the link provided and was sent to a column written May 24, 2014, by Randal S. Olsen. There is a fantastic picture of Bobby Fischer playing Mikhail Tal, which I saved. It was worth clicking on just to see the picture.

Then I went to Mr. Olsen’s home page ( and found this: “Does batting order matter in Major League Baseball? A simulation approach”

Good thing today is an off day in the WHCC.