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Konstantin Landa proposals on anti-cheating

Date:

18 November 2012

Dear chess friends, colleagues!

You probably know that we want to join a big Olympic family, bring the number of chess players up to 1 billion, build chess hotels around the world, promote great program "chess in schools", educate smart, responsible people who will be capable to solve the global problems in the future. As we all know the popularity of chess is increasing worldwide. But let us now take a look at some serious issues that are within our chess community. 

"Gens Una Sumus!" -Reads the motto of FIDE, let me as a member of our family briefly introduce myself. Konstantin Landa, learn chess at 5, international grandmaster, ELO 2640, Senior FIDE Trainer, long time coach of Alexandra Kosteniuk, Arkadi Naiditsch, the captain and the coach of the many teams including the Olympic team. I worked and am working with many strong students. In my free time I play in various chess competitions. I have been writing chess materials for various chess magazines and websites. I graduated from the Technical University in computers department. My civil profession is system administrator.

 
I would like to make some anti-cheating suggestions which could help our chess family to protect our sport. Personally I was forced to take up the anti-cheat suggestions after the events that took place in recent months. The possibility of fraud has long been known but I started facing this problem in the last tournaments where I played.
 
1. Well-known case with Sebastian Feller in the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk.
But that case saw the long chain of people involved in cheating and showed poor efficiency, because "when two know the secret - it is no longer a secret". In the most recent cases the cheater appears to be alone.
 
2. Case in Baku.
You can read in russian under link  http://chesspro.ru/_events/2012/landa2_baku1.html
 
3. Case in German bundesliga with Falko Bindrich.
All materials you can find in www.schachbundesliga.de
 
4. Case in German individual championship 2011 with Naitsidis, who has admitted in cheating.
It's the tip of the iceberg only! I have heard also about many other cases from my chess friends around the world. It does damage the image of our game every day. The cheater who was successful even one time will never stop and will share information with his friends. The cheaters use electronic devices during the game in such places that nobody can check them out. It's a virus. We have to stop this epidemic! 
 
What we have to do? We have to set up the rules. First, in my report from Baku, I made an offer, but now, after talking with the professionals of the highest level and with many my chess amateur friends , I have come to the conclusion that it is imperative to separate competitions as professional and amateur tournaments.
 
We could divide the tournaments based on a simple principle:
Professional - official FIDE , qualifying tournaments, large open tournaments, where there are big prizes and mainly professionals are participating. Also the organizers of any tournament will have a right to declare the professional status is they wish so. 
Amateur - with low prizes, where most of the participants are not professionals and playing chess mostly for fun.
 
We cannot impose same restrictions on amateurs as we can and should on professionals. But here are my general and most important suggestions regarding the use of electronic devices. These proposals should have been taken earlier , when the first reports of cheating in the tournaments have come up.
Now, let me define some concepts:
 
The characters:
 
Participants (players)
Arbitrators (referees)
Chief referee 
Visitors
 
Important concepts:
 
Playing hall - the hall where the games are being played, and the players are in the same room with the arbitrators.
Tournament area - Determined by the organizers. It includes in addition to the playing hall a snack bar, restrooms, smoking room, corridor and so on. The boundaries of the tournament area should be marked with the signs and announced about by the referee (for reminders) before each round.

 
Now we can go to the general proposals for amateur and professional tournaments.
 
1. The player has no right to leave the tournament area until the end of his game.
The penalty for crossing the line depends on Chief referee and the logic. If a participant while thinking over the move crosses the line of tournament area, but remains within the sight,in my opinion it may be a warning for the first time. If the participant goes to the hotel room, it is logical to forfeit him immediately. 
 
2. The player is not allowed to carry cell phones, head sets or any other electronic devices (except medical) in tournament hall if organizers provide the lockers. Otherwise cell phones and other devices should be bagged and put under the table  in the tournament hall, or better do not to take them with you at all. 
Of course forfeit for any call or vibration of the phone during the game should be left unchanged.

Important that the player is strictly prohibited to take any electronic devices from playing hall during the game.
 
Organizers may have a small box with numbered spaces (it was organized in the team's first European Cup in Eilat) and at the time to give the ticket for the stored cell phone. In order to avoid complications , the participant can get his phone back by entering  a PIN code if it is provided.. Besides such boxes could solve the problem of careless visitors forgetting to turn the cell phones off when entering the room. Because the visitors can not be forfeited.

3. Referee one time per round may selectively or at the request of the other player check with a manual metal detector player’s pockets if the player decided to leave playing hall.
To avoid any accusations in arbitrator being bias computer system to randomly pick the players for test can be used. The security check (as with the airport security) should not cause a negative reaction from the participants. Especially, if one is not carrying any metal objects (preferably not having left any in the playing room). The checking with manual metal detector should take a short time (less than 30 seconds).
 
4. Any player may one time per tournament to ask the arbiter to check his opponent when he is leaving the playing hall.
I'm sure that 99.9% of players who cheat do it when leaving the playing hall. So, while in the playing hall , potential cheaters are unlikely to be safely engage in a fraud - somebody will notice. If you do not want to be subjected to security procedures - remain at the chess board or walk  in the playing hall.
 
5. Security check can be performed outside the playing hall or with the written permission of the Chief referee in exceptional cases.
The punishment for the detection of communicator, or other electronic devices (not just cell phones, but also for example various players use ipod) the participant (either on or off) during the game outside of the playing hall entails:
 
a) an immediate forfeit in a current game and mandatory security check of the communication device. If nothing is found, the player will be allowed to continue the tournament,
b) the failure to submit a communication device for the test will result in player’s elimination from the tournament. All the  games that the player played in the tournament prior to elimination will be counted as losses 
As far as rating points are concerned.
c) if the electronic device proves to be part of cheating, - life disqualification by the decision of the player’s chess federation
 
6. The Chief Referee has the right to ask any player who is not currently playing the game, as well as the visitors to leave the playing hall.
In any case chess players welcome visitors and want to see them in any chess competitions. Spectacular battles In a time trouble, emotions of players have always attracted visitors of chess events. Therefore I propose here to empower the chief referee (ordinary referees are usually very busy at the end of the game ) and to entitle him to remove visitors if needed. I do not think we will hear about many of these cases, but such a possibility should be at chief referee’s disposal.
 
These 6 safety rules pose a barrier to the most simple and effective form of fraud that involve electronic devices.
That is all I have to say for now in regards to amateur tournaments.
 
For professionals only.
 
In my view, the professionals need to take a strong commitment to anti-cheating control. It is well known that in modern chess great skills in analyzing variations is not enough - it is necessary to remember them ! OR it is even better to write them down. And with "cheating cribs” one can easily pass any exams! Playing many opening in chess game now like taking the exam - if you forget one move you loose. The problem is that during the exam one can go to the restroom check his analysis in the cabin and even flush the paper down the toilet so no one can catch him.. So he can safely play any sharp and principled lines - all moves are recorded! What I offer in this case. In my opinion after one hour of playing time the players usually reach the position that hardly could have been analyzed at home.
So my suggestions
 
7. During the first hour of play leaving playing hall is prohibited. Players only in urgent cases can leave the playing hall, accompanied by the referee.
 
8. Visitors are not allowed in the playing hall during first 60 minutes of play.
Due to the fact that most of our audience prefer to watch the games online using the chess programs , attendance of the tournaments has dramatically declined. But if chess fans also want to see the emotions, it's best to come to the end of the game when the players are low on time. The first hour of play usually is not that important.The fans are often bored in the beginning of the games.. The players often times simply show their home preparation.

9. Write and adopt rules of FAIR PLAY for professionals.

The document should be signed by the players.
 
This will give a strong positive impulse and get rid of unnecessary suspicion and controversy. I wish that FIDE will finally release something like the Hippocratic oath for the chess players, namely FAIR PLAY RULES published on its website , and ask the players to sign the document. That will resolve the problem of cheating and will show our commitment to a fair game. All the anti-cheating information should be open and available on official fide site. Transparency and openness will improve our image in the people’s eyes. And to make sure that it is not another PR, hanging in the void, we strongly need to fight against any attempts of fraud. Security and integrity of the game are in our hands. Hands of chess community. I am sure that I have proposed the rules that can put a serious barrier in the way of dishonest players.
 
With respect to chess players and fans.
 
Konstantin Landa,
 
International Grandmaster, captain, FIDE Senior Trainer