'Online, it must be 1 in 10,000. But there are millions of games': Viswanathan Anand addresses 'cheating' in chess

Published on Nov 12, 2022 04:40 PM IST

India chess legend Viswanathan Anand addressed the issues surrounding cheating – particularly in online chess – during a session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2022.

Viswanathan Anand(HTLS 2022)
Viswanathan Anand(HTLS 2022)

Last year, controversy erupted in June when Indian billionaire Nikhil Kamath admitted to receiving “help from people analyzing the game” and “computers” a day after he surprisingly defeated Viswanathan Anand in a charity chess match. The admission from Kamath came after many expressed their shock at the result of the game.

"It is ridiculous that so many are thinking that I really beat Vishy sir in a chess game, that is almost like me waking up and winning a 100mt race with Usain Bolt," Kamath had written on his Twitter account with a statement over the game, apologizing to the fans for the "confusion" caused due to the result.

Over a year later, Anand, during a session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS 2022), spoke in detail over the concerns relating to cheating in chess – especially in the online circuit. The Indian chess legend admitted that while it is very difficult for him to sense if his opponent is cheating, it is an ongoing problem which needs a solution.

“I can sense it and in some cases, it's extreme. It hasn't happened that much, it happened once to me online last year in a charity match. The move don't match up with the opponent. In games, it's much harder to tell. When you are playing the game and there's flow to it, you can look at it more,” Anand said in a conversation with Sharda Ugra.

“I tend to trust my colleagues. When (Veslin) Topolov was accused in 2005, my reaction was that his moves were good but it didn't indicate cheating. But many strong players accused him of that,” Anand further said.

Anand also referred to the recent chess game between Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann, where the latter is being rumoured to have cheated. The Indian legend said, “I saw Carlsen-Niemann. Many people can't handle the tension of playing Carlsen for couples of hours. Many take a draw. Nauman conserved his advantage, Carlsen literally cracked in the end. I read a very cryptic tweet of it later (from Carlsen). I couldn't understand what he was referring to.”

Further talking about the concerns, Anand, who is also the deputy president of the FIDE, said that steps are being taken to find out solutions on the same.

"I don't know if I'm naïve or my colleagues are paranoid. Maybe I'm too trusting. Or maybe I'm in the habit that if you can't prove, it's better to keep your mouth shut. It's a tricky question, because with computer systems, you can't catch someone at the scene of the crime. There are few chess players who have no reason to swim in these waters. I keep an open mind, but there are commissions trying to look at his matter. There's not going to be any proof, it's not a nice situation, but as a deputy president, I've to be careful.

"We will need a procedure that works consistently. We will have to determine the level of correlation.

“In online websites, it must be 1 in 10,000. But the number of games must be tens of millions, so it's still a high level of cheating allegations. They say that in kids level, it's rampant. We are confident we will come up with solution. In long run, if you cheat, you will be caught,” said Anand.

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