back to article Grandmaster FLUSH: Chess champ booted for allegedly cheating with iPod app in the loo

A chess grandmaster has been thrown out of an international tournament after he allegedly used an Apple iPod hidden in a toilet cubicle to cheat. Gaioz Nigalidze, Georgia's national chess champion, was playing Armenian granmaster Tigran Petrosian at the prestigious Dubai Open tournament over the weekend when his repeated trips …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would have thought players at that level were too egotistical to even consider letting a machine do their thinking for them, prize money or not. Weird.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Sub-optimal

      Any word on who was actually winning - man or machine?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Sub-optimal

      So the logical cold calculating grand master chess players would use machines and cheat while the wild-eyed cowboy chess players (I'm trying to picture them) wouldn't cheat because of their egos.

    3. RobDog

      Re: Sub-optimal

      I visited a chess tournament & convention at a hotel once

      but I left soon after I got through the door, I couldn't stand the bragging.

      If there's one thing I can't stand, it's...chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    his repeated trips to the loo

    Rookie mistake, mate.

    1. Nigel The Pigeon

      So he went to the toilet..

      to bash his opponents Bishop?

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: So he went to the toilet..

        and was caught with his trousers down while not 'en passant'

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: his repeated trips to the loo

      Is it his fault that he springered a leak?

  3. frank ly

    "... check players for electronic devices before they enter the toilets."

    That wouldn't have helped in this particular case. Maybe a competition official could decide which toilet room and which cubicle they were allowed to use on each visit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "... check players for electronic devices before they enter the toilets."

      Or they could go the Schwarzenegger route: "There IS NO BATHROOM!!"

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: "... check players for electronic devices before they enter the toilets."

        ...rolls in a portaloo with integrated EMP coil.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: "... check players for electronic devices before they enter the toilets."

        Or they could just repeat the scene in "Casino" when they found the guy with the roulette timing computer. Circular saw meet hand

        1. Ole Juul

          Re: "... check players for electronic devices before they enter the toilets."

          Space diapers! (MAG) Simple solution, and they forfeit the game if they leave their chair.

          1. Mindbreaker

            Re: "... check players for electronic devices before they enter the toilets."

            Chess games are routinely over 6 hours. The playing hall would get very ripe.

        2. Ian 55

          Fact and fiction mix

          Casino was the pair of hopefuls where one was peeking at a Blackjack dealer's cards from another table and signalling whether they were good or bad. Result: one guy with a hammered hand and one offered a choice of the money and similar treatment or being thrown out more or less unharmed.

          Roulette timing was either the 1980s lot from MIT who did it in Las Vegas with a 6502-based setup (before the CMOS version, so they had problems with the power requirements and sweating leading to painful sparks) or the pair who got away with having a laser in a Psion organiser in London detecting the ball's position.

          The funny thing is that if casinos just stopped taking bets before putting the ball in play, this would be impossible. But that would mean less profit overall...

          1. phil dude

            Re: Fact and fiction mix

            a modern smartphone and a bit of "MATLAB" and that is definitely plausible. I read about this somewhere and I recall that the prediction narrowed down the ball to a quadrant of the wheel, and roulette permits bets spread that way.

            I feel sure that a US casino would toss you out if your smartphone was pointed at the roulette wheel for any length of time....


            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Fact and fiction mix

              But now the casinos have to watch out for linked smart watches and camera glasses (the latter in particular because there could be actual prescription lenses in the frame, rendering them a medical necessity due to otherwise-poor vision).

  4. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    The image in the article

    Did someone seriously take a picture of the iPod using another apple device and then take a screenshot of the photo to use for an article?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The image in the article

      It's Apple devices all the way down.

  5. Chris Miller

    I'm confused (yet again)

    Is there a chess program for a smartphone that would be able to beat a grandmaster? (I doubt it.) So was someone sending him suggested moves? (Which might not even have required the use of a chess computer.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      someone sending him suggested moves?

      Yes, it was a shadowy voice from an unknown stranger, who simply gave his name as "Mr. Blue".

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: someone sending him suggested moves? a deep, throaty voice.

    2. Martin

      Re: I'm confused (yet again)

      OK, I'm not a grandmaster, but I used to be a county level player. So I know a bit about this.

      If I had been playing a serious game, and the position was tricky, it would have been very useful to be able to adjourn to the loo with a pocket set to analyse the position properly, moving pieces around. (I've never done it, but I'm sure people have).

      Nowadays, if you can disappear into the loo with a smartphone, you're doing the same - only with something that can analyse much more accurately and quickly than you can. Computers are particularly good at sharp, tactical positions, where a slight mistake can mean your position falls apart.

      A GM, with a smartphone to help, playing another GM, would have an edge. Not enough to win every time, but enough to significantly improve his chances.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: I'm confused (yet again)

        Thanks Martin. I'm now less confused!

      2. Ian 55

        Re: I'm confused (yet again)

        Disappearing to do some analysis with a pocket set was in How To Cheat At Chess nearly forty years ago, so doubtless it was happening then. It wouldn't work with mere mortals because they usually wouldn't remember the position correctly.

        Using a program like this could offer little in terms of strategy to a GM, but it would help you know if your tactics are sound.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused (yet again)

      >Is there a chess program for a smartphone that would be able to beat a grandmaster? (I doubt it.)

      Yes - and most world class players use them for practice, since if you are a grand master there aren't many humans you can get a good game against. Listen to the recent more-or-less podcast on the BBC

    4. Ralph B

      Re: I'm confused too

      > That mobile phone appears to be an iPod Touch

      I wonder if the rules explicitly forbid the use of mobile phones, and so he hoped to argue that the iPod Touch would be allowed, since it is not a mobile phone ... ?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm confused (yet again)

      A computer can work out a number of moves and counter moves a lot faster than a human can. It can also recall lots of classic strategies.

      Deep Blue won in 1996, pretty sure computer technology has moved on since then. A chess program on a phone would probably beat most people these days.

      1. Martin

        Re: I'm confused (yet again)

        A chess program on a phone would probably beat most people these days.

        There are at least three free chess engines that run on mobile phones that are good enough to beat ALL casual players (people that just play occasionally, and don't go to a club) and 99% of most serious players.

        Which is a bit depressing occasionally. Like I said, twenty years ago I was a county player, before I suddenly realized I had better things to do with my time. I'd still beat most casual players without breaking into a sweat - but I can't beat my phone; I rarely even draw.

    6. Adam Oellermann

      Re: I'm confused (yet again)

      A number of leading chess engines have been ported to Android. For example, Stockfish has been ported and is available (for free!) as Droidfish, rated at around 2900 on a quad-core 1.6GHz smartphone processor. That ought to give even top-10 players a good run, and would definitely outperform most ordinary grandmasters. So yes - there are smartphone chess apps that can beat grandmasters, and being able to consult one in the loo would be a serious advantage - especially for a GM strong enough to know when he needs help, but not strong enough to win on his own.

  6. skeptical i

    The blockbuster movie plot

    would have had the Kid Genius character do some high-falutin' programming fu to the found cellphone (maybe, like Will in the _Lost in Space_ movie remake, "bypass the operating system to access the subroutines"?) to make it dispense bad chess advice. The game, the girl, the future -- all gone, fade to black, roll credits.

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple Watch is next

    During the final exam, the teacher began to have growing suspicions as all of his Apple Watch wearing students, in addition to being quite punctual, displayed a marked improvement in test scores after their iPurchases. He didn't know why they all had to keep checking their watches during the exam, however,since there was a perfectly good clock on the wall.

    Seriously though.. at some point we as humans have to admit that machines have won the AI wars.. instead of going all the way to Dubai to watch dumb humans play chess, why not just pit two iPhones against each other and live-stream the game? Tournament would move much more quickly, probably have higher quality game play, and nobody would have to travel anywhere.

    That's why I play Go, no machine has been able to master it yet.

    1. beep54

      Re: Apple Watch is next

      Don't understand the down votes as Go is definitely far more difficult for a machine than chess. And I spent a long, long time just to get to an upper B level in chess. Still machine v. machine would be pretty much boring for chess. Give me the crazies that chess produces. Fisher, for all his quirks was relatively normal. Nimzovitch was rumored to have stood on a table and peed on a game. And if this didn't happen, well, it should have (for entertainment purposes only, of course....)

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Apple Watch is next

        I don't think Go is much more difficult for computers. But it is definitely much more difficult for programmers!

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Apple Watch is next

          Go is much more difficult for computers simply because the number of positions is much greater (19x19 vs. 8x8) and because it's a game of placing rather than moving, so each turn has a much higher number of possibilities which then cascade in a look-ahead system. Shogi is tougher for a computer to lick because its move set is more varied.

          1. Robert Sneddon Bronze badge


            The end-game in Go has many fewer legal moves as much of the board is occupied by placed stones, safe areas which can't be invaded and areas already given up as lost by one side. This is a lot simpler to analyse forward to a winning position than the mid-game position. It's also very useful for evaluating the result of ko fights and the number of points each fight accrues to the players.

            Crazy Stone and other computer Go programs like Zen aren't a serious threat to the professional ranks, yet. Pros have lost games to programs, yes but only when offering large handicaps -- 4 stones is equivalent to forty points head start. In chess that would be like spotting the other player a queen and a bishop.

            The KGS 5 dan rating that Crazy Stone has been assigned is not a pro ranking, I've seen folks say that the KGS amateur ranks are about +4 over real pros so Crazy Stone is maybe as good as a shodan (1 dan) pro. Maybe.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Endgames

              But the tricky part is figuring out early moves. Even chess has a limited move set towards the end game as pieces are removed and routes are cut off (particularly if the king is under threat--check cuts the number of possibilities drastically).

              1. Ian 55

                Re: Endgames

                The chess endgames with seven or fewer pieces are completely solved, and in some tricky ones computer assistance will get you a win or draw when you would normally draw or lose because /why/ some moves are best is currently unknown: they just are.

                For computers, that's a simple database lookup.

    2. MrDamage

      Re: Apple Watch is next

      > "we as humans have to admit that machines have won the AI wars"

      Slightly incorrect. Thanks to marketting hype, and laziness, we as humans lost the "I" war.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple Watch is next

      "That's why I play Go, no machine has been able to master it yet."

      Shogi is also beyond brute force tree search for now, and is a helluva lot more exciting than Go. Both will fall in time as computers get faster, and it won't matter. There are many things machines can do better than humans, the interest is in the competition of one extremely skilled human against another.

    4. gerryg

      Re: why I play Go

      A little complacent, methinks, 6 dan, £3 on google play.

  9. GSystems

    I silver lining from all of this, for me at least, is that there is still some sort of honor and code that punishes cheaters and frowns upon deceit.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repeated trips to the same bathroom stall?

    Artificial intelligence still can't overcome natural stupidity.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    His name...

    i'll get SOOO whipped for saying this, but did any one read his name? I bet he'd never hear the end of Gay-oz Nigga-lidze in the English-speaking part of the west.

    Coat: mine is the white one with long sleeves that tie around the back.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New career

    Now that everyone knows he's bent as a nine bob note, he can shamelessly make a lucrative new start in politics.

  13. Bbbbit

    Apologies for this post

    As it was in the toilet does that count as illegal a-cisterns?

    And did they wipe the iPod?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Chess: the only way to cheat Death; he can never remember which way the horsey moves.

    Can't recall the exact quote, and I'm too lazy to look it up.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: ODWR

      Not sure whether to up or down vote you ----------------------->

      Before I highlighted Chess: the only way to cheat Death; he can never remember which way the horsey moves. in Chrome; right-clicked (actually left-clicked for me) and selected "search Google for ...." (total all of 0.5s); I had a feeling it would be the sadly recently departed Pratchettmeister. So it would be a downvote for being *that* lazy.

      However, the top Google was this

      which is a fascinating site I probably wouldn't have bumped into today without your help.

      So in balance no votes :)

      p.s. It is a Pratchettism

      1. Michael Dunn

        Re: ODWR @Jimmy Page

        The photo on that page is from "The Seventh Seal" written and directed by Ingmar Bergman with Max von Sydow as Antonius Block, the knight who plays Death at chess.

      2. the hatter

        Re: ODWR

        If that poster is responsible for you discovering tvtropes, and thus the associated loss of lost hours and days as you follow links through the site, they definitely deserve your downvote.

    2. Hud Dunlap

      Re: ODWR

      I believe that line was used in different ways in a number of different book.

  15. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    Had it been a poker game...

    ... he might have made a Royal Flush,

  16. TeeCee Gold badge

    "the chief arbiter made him forfeit his match"

    Poetic justice at its best.

    His opponent won and he finished as number two.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Ian 55

    There should be a rule in Chess like the one stopping actors having the same name

    I was wondering why anyone should need a computer to help beat someone - the former World Champion Tigran Petrosian - who's been dead for twenty years.

    Turns out that there's another Armenian chess player with the same name...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020