11 May

Mission Improbable

I blame the late 1960s TV series Mission Impossible myself for first suggesting you could successfully cheat at chess with electronic devices. In the season two episode, “A Game of Chess”, a member of the MI team, Rollin Hand - played by Martin Landau - played a crucial game of chess against a grandmaster in a tournament, with all his winning moves relayed through a computer-linked to his fake hearing aid.


Back then, it was thought to be far-fetched with chess players scoffing at the idea of the MI team having a computer good enough to win at chess, let alone a small electronic devices being used in a tournament hall in such a fashion - but technology advances has proved the concept to indeed be possible rather than ‘impossible’.

Recently, Kazakh GM Vladimir Tkachev showed in a Chess24.com article and accompanying video just how easy it is to cheat using the MI method. Using just an invisible earplug and the help of a willing accomplice, Tkachev’s video showed himself demolishing an unsuspecting Danii Dubov, as he received advice only at critical moments of the game.

And late last month, an amateur 19-year-old Indian player, Dhruv Kakkar - rated just 1517 - was caught out with two mobile phones strapped to his legs, and a micro-speaker inserted into his left ear, as he ‘outplayed’ GM Pravin Thipsay for an improbable win. The Grandmaster immediately complained to the arbiter of his suspicion of cheating, and Kakkar’s mobile phones were discovered attached to his legs. Thankfully, any messages on them didn’t “self-destruct in five seconds.”

There’s been a noticeable rise in cheating in chess using various forms of technology, and many are becoming concerned that the game’s governing body, FIDE, is not taking it as seriously as they should be - or indeed leading by example. Last week FIDE vice-president, GM Zurab Azmaiprashvelli, called for the human rights of cheaters to be respected, deciding that the time was right for only a minor penalty given to his fellow countryman and Georgian Champion Gaioz Nigalidze, who was caught red-handed using a chess program on a mobile phone during last month’s Dubai Open.

Vladimir Kramnik - Gata Kamsky
Russian Team Championship, (6)
Leningrad Dutch/Clarendon Court Defence
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.d4 d6 6.Be2 f5 The game takes on the shape of a hybrid Leningrad Dutch/Clarendon Court Defence set-up. 7.0-0 Nf6 8.d5 Nb4 9.a3 Na6 10.Rb1 0-0 11.b4 Kh8 12.Qb3 b6 13.Bb2 Nc7 14.Rfd1 Bd7 15.Ba1 a5 16.bxc5 bxc5 17.Qc2 Rb8 18.Rxb8 Qxb8 19.e4 fxe4 20.Nxe4 Nce8?! 20...Nxe4 21.Bxg7+ Kxg7 22.Qxe4 e5 23.dxe6 (23.Rb1 Qc8 24.Qc2) 23...Nxe6 21.Ng3! Exactly! Why exchange knights when Black's pieces are very awkwardly placed now? 21...Ng4 22.Bc3 The a-pawn is going to be Kramnik's target. Wisely, Kamsky opts to give it up for counterplay that does give him practical chances, but Kramnik stays calm to exploit his advantage and turn it into a win. 22...Qc7 23.h3 Nh6 24.Ng5 Nf7 25.Nxf7+ Rxf7 26.Rb1 Kg8 27.Bg4! Black's game falls apart after the exchange of the white-squared bishops, as this was the only piece keeping his position together. This is a very instructive lesson here: always seek to exchange off your opponents best pieces. 27...Bxc3 28.Bxd7 Qxd7 29.Qxc3 e6 30.dxe6 Qxe6 31.Re1 Qd7 32.Qxa5 Nf6 33.a4 The a-pawn is big and running - and trying to stop it will be impossible. In the end, though, it acts as a decoy to unleash an attack on Black's defensless king. 33...Rf8 34.Ra1 Qf7 35.Qc3 h5 36.Qd3 h4 37.Nf1 d5 38.cxd5 Nxd5 39.Qc2 c4 40.Qxc4 Qxf2+ 41.Kh1 Rf5 42.Nh2 Kg7 43.Ng4 Qd2 44.Rb1 Rf7 45.Ne5 Rc7 (See Diagram) 46.Qe4! A nice centralizing move that covers everything - it defends g2, attacks g6, defends the rook on b1, defends a4 and also covers the queening square for the a-pawn. 46...Nf4 47.a5 g5 48.a6 Rc1+ 49.Rxc1 Qxc1+ 50.Kh2 Qa3 51.Nf3 Qxa6 52.Qe7+ Kg8 53.Qxg5+ 1-0 In the end, after 53...Ng6 54. Nxh4 Qd6+ 55.g3 the checks run out.

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