Some would say that the invention of the internet has been absolutely wonderful when it comes to chess because it has given us instant access to absolutely everything from news and information about the game to products, clubs and more including the ability to play the game online any time of the day or night. The problem is though that with all of these advances, cheating at the game has also become a lot easier and sadly, a lot more common.
Recently, many of the chess world elite have been accused of cheating during a game and while at one point that would have been a preposterous accusation, these days it’s not only a good possibility but a reality that is becoming all too common. How is it possible? Thanks to technology of course! It seems that the small gadgets that we all love for their convenient and almost discreet size and ability to get us online no matter where we are have also made it possible for us to get assistance with our moves without anyone being the wiser because of the sophisticated chess programs available today.
The reality of this is not only that people can cheat but it also opens adds a whole new element of dishonesty to the game that was not there in the past. A worthy opponent now runs the risk of being questioned and wrongfully accused for simply being a strong adversary who is skilled at the game! Being the winner of a competition now comes with the added possibility of being the centre of a smear campaign because more and more people are losing trust in others and in the game. And since this is a fairly new development and one that is not very easy to investigate let alone confirm; it is taking away some of the elegance of the game and bringing it down to a whole new and less desirable level.
A perfect example of this is the recent Aeroflot Open match between Igor Kurnosov of Russia and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan. Kurnosov’s quick win was accused of being the result of cheating, even though the referee found nothing on the winner but a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. This situation would never have occurred before the invention of the internet and wireless devices. A winner would have been praised on his ability and not accused of stealing moves from an internet program hidden in his pocket!
This doesn’t change that many of us love the sport of chess and it certainly will not make the game obsolete thanks to those who love it and play it at home and with friends, but it is and will likely continue to have an impact on competitive chess, the way it is seen and the way the tournaments are handled by the World Chess Federation. It may even deter people from wanting to advance to the competitive level which would be an absolute shame, especially given the fact that chess has was only finally recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a sport in 1999.