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Chess champ's high-tech cheating scheme involved an iPod touch

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Georgian chess champion Gaioz Nigalidze has been kicked out and banned from the Dubai Open Chess Tournament after he was caught cheating. What exactly did he do, you ask? Well, he got help from a chess app running on an iPod touch. His opponent, Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian, grew suspicious as Nigalidze literally ran to the toilet a few times (remember, a match can go on for hours) and visited the same cubicle. Game officials eventually inspected the cubicle and found the device hidden behind the bowl and wrapped in toilet paper, along with a pair of headphones. Nigalidze denied it was his, but upon further inspection, authorities found that its social media apps were logged into the Georgian champ's accounts. They also found his board mirrored on an open chess app.

It's been 18 years since IBM's Deep Blue computer managed to beat chess world champion Garry Kasparov. Now, even small smart devices are powerful enough to quickly analyze chess moves. English grandmaster Nigel Short says it's too easy to cheat with a phone (or in this case, a media player) these days. "My dog could win a major tournament using one of these devices," he told The Washington Post. "Or my grandmother. Anybody could do this." Seeing as Dubai Open is awarding the grand winner $12,000 in cash, a lot of unscrupulous or desperate people would cheat, if given the chance.

It's unclear if Nigalidze has done this before, and if he did, to what extent. Nevertheless, his whole career is now under scrutiny, and fellow grandmasters want him to be penalized heavily to deter more people from cheating. He isn't the first and the only person to cheat on a chess tournament with the aid of a high-tech device, you see. In 2002, an American player tried to pull off something similar, checking out simulations in the bathroom in the middle of a match. Indian player Umakant Sharma was caught cheating in 2006 by communicating with accomplices through a tiny Bluetooth headpiece hidden inside a cloth cap. And then in 2008, the Dubai Chess Club banned an Iranian player after it was discovered that a partner was sending him moves through text messages while watching a live stream of the game.

[Image credit: Dubai Chess & Culture Club (1), (2)]

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