In brief: Smartphones have brought us many things: the world’s information at our fingertips, an easy way to communicate and connect with people, and, it seems, the ability to cheat at competitive chess games.
Igors Rausis, a 58-year-old Latvian-Czech player who won the title of grandmaster back in 1992, has been suspended by the International Chess Federation after he was “caught red-handed using his phone during a game.”
While playing a tournament game in Strasbourg, France, Rausis took a bathroom break. Afterwards, a smartphone was discovered in the cubicle, and he later signed a declaration confirming it was his. The Times printed a picture that supposedly shows Rausis using chess software while sitting on a closed-lid toilet during his break.
Rausis has admitted to the cheating, telling Chess.com that “I simply lost my mind yesterday. I confirmed the fact of using my phone during the game by written [statement].”
“At least what I committed yesterday is a good lesson, not for me—I played my last game of chess already. “
While the World Chess Federation’s (FIDE) Fair Play Commission Secretary, Yuri Garrett, said Rausis voluntarily withdrew from the tournament, the organization’s director general, Emil Sutovsky, said he had been suspended from the competition.
Rausis had been under suspicion for some time, particularly as his FIDE rating had jumped almost 200 points over the last seven years after been stuck at around 2500 for a decade.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first case of a chess grandmaster using a smartphone to cheat. Georgian player Gaioz Nigalidze was also banned from a 2015 tournament when his phone, which was logged into his Facebook account, was found in a toilet cubicle. He had been running a chess app that was mirroring his current game. Nigalidze was banned for three years and stripped of his grandmaster title.