Reports | October 25, 2012 20:38

Bindrich: "Where does it begin, where does it stop?"

Falko Bindrich today denied that he cheated during the first Bundesliga weekend. In a document of five A4 pages, the 22 year old German grandmaster rejected the suspicion of fraud and declared that his smartphone was "always switched off".

Falko Bindrich responds to allegations of cheating | Photo © Georgios Souleidis courtesy of the Bundesliga

Last Monday we reported on the incident of suspected cheating in the Bundesliga. In Sunday's second round, Falko Bindrich's game against Sebastian Siebrecht (part of the match between SC Eppingen and Katernberg) was declared lost for Bindrich, who refused to show his smartphone when the arbiter asked him to do so. The German grandmaster went to the toilet while it was his move, something he had allegedly done more than once during his Saturday game as well. In a case of suspected cheating the Bundesliga regulations allow the arbiter to search a player's clothes, bags or other pieces of luggage.

Today the popular German website Schach-Ticker published a statement by Bindrich, consisting of five A4 pages. We translate and summarize it below.

In the document Bindrich gives a chronological description and his opinion of the events during the first Bundesliga weekend in Mülheim. He states that although he doesn't play many tournaments anymore, he "still likes to prepare for a game professionaly". Bindrich says that in his game last Saturday against Tregubov he got the same line had played against Andrei Istratescu, three weeks earlier in the Swiss league. He points out that he made use of his analysis of that game, including the exchange sacrifice he played.

However, after reaching a clear advantage I didn't play the best way possible, as anyone who plays through the game at home can easily establish.

Bindrich managed to win anyway, and his team defeated Mülheim 4.5-3.5.

After the game Pavel Tregubov hesitated to shake hands with me, and felt very insulted.

Then Bindrich starts describing his game against Siebrecht on Sunday.

After an hour I had visited the toilet for the second time (It was Sunday morning - I think it is normal to visit the toilet after breakfast?) to do what someone does at the toilet. The notion that I went to the toilet while it was my move, is simply false. A number of witnesses present can confirm this. In my 15 years spanning career, I have never done this.

Bindrich points out that he wasn't the only one who went to the toilet more than once, and wonders why he was investigated.

While returning to his board, he was stopped by the arbiter. Bindrich refused to empty his pockets and show his mobile. He continues to emphasize that his game against Tregubov wasn't played perfectly by him.

 Is it really so unlikely that a grandmaster with 2530 Elo wins with white against a grandmaster with 2600 Elo?

Then Bindrich describes how he was followed to the toilet several times, and how the arbiter and his opponent looked under the door "if his feet showed anything suspicious". Bindrich wonders:

How far have we come? Tracking, spying, eavesdropping in the toilet?

Bindrich explains his decision to not show his phone like this:

First and foremost, I see it as a direct invasion of my privacy. I cannot just allow anyone access to my phone. It contains my private data (very private images and messages) and sensitive business data. I should protect this. Releasing this data would cost me my job, and I'd damage important relationships. I could not take this risk. It is true that I have, like many chess players, a chess app on my phone which has chess analysis stored, including an analysis of my game on Saturday against Tregubov, which I had entered after the game in my hotel room.

Bindrich then wonders why he needs to "prove that he's innocent".

In principle this is not acceptable to me. The rule of law has a higher value to me. (...) Luckily, we are protected by human and civil rights in our lives, so why should we give this up in chess? This new rule will allow arbiters, theoretically, to investigate and harass any player who has visited the toilet two times, which they can call "reasonable suspicion"!

The third reason for Bindrich to reject the arbiter's request was that he did not know who accused him of cheating.

It was said that these accusations came from the team captain of Mülheim. Why didn't he just approach me personally? This is another point, anyone can anonymously accuse someone, and there are no consequences.

Bindrich then makes an important point. He declares that he was never informed of the new Bundesliga regulation which allows the arbiter to search players.

At the 2010 and 2011 German Championships each player received a letter in which he was asked whether he would be willing to undergo a doping control or not. In the Bundesliga the players were not informed of a change in the tournament rules nor was a written consent obtained.

Meanwhile, the President of the German Chess Federation Herbert Bastian has given a short statement on the federation's website. He says that

the only one who has jurisdiction in this matter is the Director of the first Bundesliga, Jürgen Kohlstädt. He has given the affected player and his team the possibility to express their views and to be heard until November 2, 2012.

Until then the German Chess Federation "will not express an opinion in this discussion".

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

Chess.com

Comments

arkan's picture

Well he has a few valid points; but who knows..

FischerMan's picture

I think he's guilty because he said : "... It is true that I have, like many chess players, a chess app on my phone which has chess analysis stored, including an analysis of my game on Saturday against Tregubov, ...".
the temptation was too great to go see his analysis.

abc's picture

If he had just shown his phone none of this would have happened.

Anonymous's picture

'cept when it shows a chess position, his, and a link to a computer off site...As someone else said, "no electronic devices in the playing area, with moniters watching players leaving the playing area.

Anonymous's picture

The easiest way is to not to allow phones. You bring a phone, leave it at the door or forfeit

Remco Gerlich's picture

Not feasible in general. People want to be able to call their family after the game to tell them when they'll be home, call to restaurants, and so on. If amateurs can't bring phones to the venue at all, they'll just stop playing.

It's different for professional events where the participants have a hotel room right next to the playing area, of course.

boardgame's picture

I think there is no other way to keep the sport clean. It could be feasible to collect them at the start of the game and hand them back after they finished. If someone urgently needs his phone during the game, he can only use it while being supervised by an arbiter. But this should be the absolut exception. I mean, if you are playing any other sport you are not using your mobile either. Why should it be different in chess?

Anonymous's picture

I agree.

valg321's picture

what did amateurs do in the pre-mobile phone era?

RG13's picture

They visited the toilet to discuss the game with another strong player.

Septimus's picture

Actually it is very feasible. Why not deposit phones at the front desk, where they give you a token with a number. After your game, go pick it up. Simple.

Anonymous's picture

Those who want to cheat will deposit one phone and cheat with the second phone.

Anonymous's picture

So borrow your coaches or a friends phone to call home...check out the extent contract bridge goes to stop cheating.

Remco G's picture

Duh, my friends are also on my team (or they wouldn't be there) and therefore also don't have phones.

Alberto Muniz's picture

What do soccer amateurs do? Leave the phones in the changing room. What's the problem in giving the phones to the arbiter in chess?

Being amateur or not, you don't need a phone at all DURING the game. After the game, is another story, of course

wortwart's picture

I think it's time to ban mobile phones from competitive chess events completely. I don't know if Bindrich cheated or not but I'm absolutely sure many chess players checked important variations secretly on their device during the game.

Anonymous's picture

Correct.

Chris's picture

What is a base of such a sureness? Do you do it?

choufleur's picture

He wanted to protect his private data ? LOL

valg321's picture

whats so funny? its a perfectly logical argument and it will stand fine in court, should the case ever goes there

personanongrata's picture

Herman Bastian => Herbert Bastian
Interesting how Bindrich attacks his opponents from Saturday, Sunday, the arbiter, and so on.
Did he do anything, on Sunday and in his statement to solve and settle things? I cannot find it.

Bertje's picture

EXACTLY. Besides he argues that showing his phone would cost him his job! WHAT A BS!

Like the arbiter would put all his images and data on the internet. BIG fail of this gm who for sure cheated. He just digged his own grave imo.

joker's picture

His defence doesn't seem a very strong one to me and I don't agree at all with CV that he made an important point regarding not being informed of the new regulations. Surely the regulations are not secret? It is the duty of every player to know the rules and if he wants to blame anyone, then he should blame his team captain for not enlightening him in advance. Of course, a friendly organiser/arbiter would still make sure to mention the matter in a short speech before the start of the round.

When it comes to inspecting the phone, I don't believe for a second the arbiter was going to go through images and business documents. Certainly the team captain and the player would be overseeing the inspection and apart from checking if the phone was on and if so, which programs were running, there is not much more to do. The arbiter doesn't have time or skill to dig deeper than that and in any case it's hard to prove whether analysis and apps were used during the game or only before.

I do wonder what the organisers expect the players to do with their phones - did they have a supervised "cloak room"? How many of the other players had their phones on them (you are free to admit to it here)? As to why only one player was singled out doesn't seem very clear, and I hope the organisers quickly get statements from players, captains, arbiters and other witnesses. The repercussions from not producing the phone cannot be very great in themselves - loss of the game, a one round suspension and perhaps a small fine seems reasonable.

personanongrata's picture

Since Saturday must have known about the problematic - latest point. I can't imagine that not his team captain, team mates did not point on that. Bindrich is a (semi) professional, chairman or president of the Amateur Chess Organisation which organised tournaments. IMO a tourney organiser or people involved in it knowing about the problematic with mobile phones and devices.
In the german speaking forum schachfeld.de you will find reasonable and unreasonable excuses for him. He wasnt caught with a smoking gun, but it was still a hot gun.

Anonymous's picture

Re: How many of the other players had their phones on them (you are free to admit to it here)?

Players don't usually have their phone with them. They either leave it in the hotel room or give it to their team captain.

redivivo's picture

"His defence doesn't seem a very strong one to me"

That's putting it mildly. It's somewhere in between embarrassing to read and unintentional comedy.

Stephen's picture

Obviously the argument that most of the game wasn't played perfectly doesn't mean that cheating didn't happen. It only means that a computer wasn't consulted on every move. That said, I think that the points about being informed of the rule change and not having a signed consent form are very good ones. It doesn't mean he didn't cheat, but it does mean that it's going to be very difficult if not impossible for the authorities to take any action. I think that some type of consultant from outside of the chess world needs to be brought in to come up with some practical suggestions on how to solve this issue. It's clear that those on the inside have singularly failed to get a grip of this.

adam's picture

as far as I can remember, players are solicited to switch off their cells before each and every game since the early naughties. not to mute or put in airplane mode but to switch the damn thing off. really, is it some ten years later so hard to ask them to pin-protect, turn off and put them in a small, locked safe next to the arbiter's desk??! then we would not have to hear from time to time these stupid explanations as to why a player visited the toilet this or that many times or how private the information he/she carries around are...

valg321's picture

you mean put a 30$ phone inside a box with a 500$ phone? Or a separate box for each and every single phone?

boardgame's picture

Well, when I used to write exams in university, we were not allowed to use our phones either. We needed to put all our stuff at the side of the room. So you could watch your stuff making sure nobody who is done early steels it. You can watch it, but you cannot touch it without permission.

Anonymous's picture

Or leave it in your room, your car, or give it to your coach or wife to hold.

Thomas's picture

A few additions (partly to answer Frits Fritschy's questions from the previous thread):
Bindrich's exact words are "While I haven't played a tournament for one year for professional reasons, I am still motivated to give my best for the team and to prepare professionally." [so he has a near-fulltime job, professional has different meanings in the very same sentence]
About Natsidis, he writes "I find the media comparison suggesting near-equivalence with Natsidis disgusting. The suggestion that Natsidis and I are close friends is pure phantasy ("frei erfunden"). I know Natsidis for a long time because he also was a 'Kaderspieler' in Saxony, but have seen him only twice in the last 15 years!"

Herbert Bastian's statement on behalf of the federation says that _in the first instance_ jurisdiction lies with Kohlstädt. There will be no statement from the federation to avoid interfering with the proper procedures ("um die ordnungsgemässe Abwicklung des Verfahrens nicht zu beeinflussen").
As far as I understand, the Bundesliga isn't directly under the auspices of the federation but rather organized by the clubs themselves. Kohlstädt is also quoted by Schach-Ticker ( http://www.chess-international.de/?p=10824 ). He says that his eventual decision might include a request to the federation to ban the player (at that stage the federation would become involved). Against his decision, appeals will be possible at the tournament court of the Bundesliga and at regular courts. To be continued!!?

Frits Fritschy's picture

Late reaction, but that was for professional reasons. I already had found Bindrich at 22 is a CEO (falkobindrich.brandyourself.com), so he probably has lots of important data to shield. As a CEO, speculation is another thing you should shield yourself of. For the rest, I feel we more or less agree.
Let's look from a different angle. I'm a cheater. I know the FIDE rules, so I check my chess position on a private place and switch of my mobile before getting out. Nothing an arbiter can do - Ain't it great?
The FIDE rule has no meaning if behaviour like this can't be checked. Should be pretty obvious for a responsible CEO and a professional chessplayer with a 15 year career. Even when the means to check this aren't covered in the rules - which they were.
Somehow I think it's quite possible Bindrich did not cheat at all and never has - that it all comes down to a character problem.

Anonymous's picture

The only reason for not showing his smartphone, is that it was switched ON.

Anonymous's picture

Yup.

Thomas's picture

On what Chessvibes/Peter Doggers considers an important point (new regulations weren't communicated to the player), I agree with joker: it is sufficient if they were communicated to the team captains. At the German championships, players represented themselves, in a team event they represent their clubs. It isn't even practical to communicate the regulations to all players, for two reasons:
- The team lineups may not have been finalized when the new rules were decided upon.
- Players come from many different countries, the organizers may not even have all (email) addresses.

noyb's picture

I pity organizers for the thankless task of trying to prevent cheating in these technologically advanced times. Pretty soon, no one will want to go to the trouble of hosting anything other than top-level events. Those of us not in the "top 100" will be relegated to online play (and the wilds there...).

endgame patzer's picture

During a tournament I observed a player going twice to the little room. I only heard a little biep (and no clothes, toilet, toiletpaper) and saw him leaving without washing his hands. I reported to the arbiter with no prevail. And the player in question ended winning the tournament.

Point is that devices should be banned from playing hall at tournaments.

However as I prefere the loose atmosphere at my local club where I know everybody personally and trust all the members of my club. And so I prefere that there is no witch hunt at local clubs where social atmosphere prevails.

Joe Fiasco's picture

Maybe, if you're less occupied with eavesdropping for 'toilet paper noise' behind the lavatories and actually focus on your own game, you'll win a tournament too one day ;)

Anonymous's picture

Not if the TD does not insure this blatant cheating is severely punished.

Bartleby's picture

A tournament rule is legally thin ground for invasion of privacy. As I understand it that's why you have to sign for acknowledging the doping controls. I don't care much if they ban him or not. I would like to see rules and procedures that prevent such casual cheating in the first place. At the very least he has to leave his mobile with the arbiter when he goes somewhere out of sight.

If he keeps sensitive professional data on his phone it's wrong of him when he brings it to an event where the arbiter has the power to make him show it. Not informing himself about such rules is doubly irresponsible.

Rdm's picture

I would show my phone to the arbiter for him to check if it's on/off. If he wanted to switch it on and check what is in the phone I wouldn't let him. For me that is a breach of my privacy - just my opinion. Also it is not necessary to have chess software in the phone to cheat when phone with internet connection can remotely connect to any machine in the world (e.g. some running chess engine). Example: Teamviever for Android - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEofo1tWaoc . Simple.

The solution from my point of view - no mobiles in playing venue. Fairly easy to enforce for team events (when just a few teams play in a venue), not so easy for big individual/team tournaments.

Theo's picture

Cheater

Tom Servo's picture

No more phones allowed by anyone in the playing venue. If you can't live without your phone, don't show up to the playing hall. You cannot ban players from the bathroom, and going to the bathroom often or at strange times cannot be helped when you are not feeling well. And you cannot bother players when they are in there. So the only way to be certain that no one used a phone is to ban them. It is sad but true.

RG13's picture

I've seen tennis pros play for several hours without visiting the toilet. Maybe diapers?

Jan Sprenger's picture

The entire story is puzzling me.

1. Bindrich has no financial or sportive incentive to cheat. Unless he is really very stupid.

2. In the game against Tregubov, the referee writes in his report that he stayed on the board in the critical period between 1,5 and 4,5 hours after the start of the game.

3. There should be no significant effect of consulting an engine in the first ten moves against Siebrecht. 4. ...e4 may be an exception because it involves some calculation, but I think a decent GM should be able to oversee this himself.

All this speaks for in dubio pro reo. But I am also surprised that he refused to hand in his cell phone -- after all, his own captain would have been involved into the investigation of the device. Also, the story about loss of job, sensible data etc. is only conditionally credible, to put it mildly.

So I don't know what to believe. That said, the decision of the referee to forfeit the game for Bindrich is correct according to the rules.

Thomas's picture

I agree that Bindrich probably did not cheat in the game against Siebrecht, but it might just be "not yet" - I do not make a judgement but try to follow the arbiter's point. Hence Bindrich could have continued the game without further consequences IF he had shown his mobile phone to the arbiter for a casual investigation (the arbiter cannot check whether any SMS messages etc. were received, read and then deleted) AND if he had left the phone in custody of his team captain for the rest of the game. As there was no cheating yet, Siebrecht would have agreed with this procedure, and would feel more comfortable during the rest of the game.

Regarding "no financial incentive", maybe but does it matter? People may cheat without apparent reason, for example amateur runners may use doping just to run faster times and boast with their results even if no prize money is involved.

Regarding sensitive data, the arbiter has in a way the same powers and duties as a policeman. I mean, if he finds something he wasn't even looking for, he has to keep it secret, not sharing it with anyone else, rather forgetting it immediately. Another story might only be if a player is involved in criminal activities, but that's speculative and verrry unlikely.

Harrry_Flashman's picture

If asked , i'd show my smartphone to the referee just to let him/her check if it's turned on or off , not for anything else. Matter of privacy . Of course i have Shredder and Chessbase installed in it, but this would make me automatically guilty ?
Maybe organizers should create a toilet janitor ( a new FIDE title hehehe ) to whom the players should hand their devices off before entering the " red area " ( toilet boxes) ..hahaha

Melanie's picture

That's sounds so awesome and yes i am always looking forward that it's going to be a lot of fun. pmp exam questions

Anonymous's picture

The simplist explanation of his behavior and post tourney BS is he's a cheater.

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