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, 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.


RG13's picture

If chess is going to be a serious sport then we can't debate the merits of whether or not a person needs a phone ON THEIR PERSON while engaging in said sport. Leave it in your car or with a trusted person or pay a fee to lock it in the hotel safe. Exactly how the phone is secured should not be a concern of anyone but the player; but it must be secured.

Chris's picture

I am not professional player and I need the phone i.e. for the case when someone from my family get ill or will be involved in an accident. When i got a message of such a type i will stop the game end go out. my family is more important then one game.
There are also the people which are having readiness on call and they have to be on call. They are playing for fun. That what i can observe is the wrong atmosphere in chess everyone is suspected! More trust to the people.
There are much more ways to cheat then we can imagine.
It is no point to be suspected. If someone has a knife does it mean that he is a murder.

wortwart's picture

Surprising how humanity could survive ages while not continously carrying a mobile phone with them. I'm sure that something terrible will happen when you put the mobile aside for four hours. By the way, you have to turn that thing off during play anyway.
If cheating is easy and without risk, someone will cheat. That's not a matter of trust, that's how people are like.
And carrying a big knife in public is also forbidden, and for good reasons.

Chris's picture

What about a job when you are on call and are obliged to react in i.e. 10 minutes.
The mobile is not for fun only. When there were not mobiles pagers etc. life was organised different.

Jerry Attrich's picture

Seems to me a reasonable investment for those who can't be without a phone for personal or professional reasons is one of those "old-geezer" phones, one that's not a miniature computer, one that allows only actual phone calls. They don't store personal data, they can't connect to one's home desktop, etc. THAT's the phone you bring to tournaments.

Chris's picture

but FIDE rules do not make any differrence for such mobile phones.

Thomas's picture

Right because even such simple phones can receive SMS messages. Still it might be less suspicious IF the player then demonstrates that he has just a simple phone.

Regarding "a job where you are obliged to react within 10 minutes" (also during evenings or weekends when chess competitions take place), such jobs exist but are relatively rare. In such cases it may be OK (with consent of arbiter and opponent) to have a mobile phone switched on - if it then rings you still lose the game because noone know what the other person tells you, it could be "play Ne5!".

And such situation may occur for amateurs but not for chess professionals - they don't have to accept tournament invitations within 10 minutes!!? Generally I would want the same rules for all chess players, profs and amateurs alike, but here exceptions might be possible (though it's complicated for the Bundesliga which has both types of players).

Chris's picture

you can but do you receive? you may receive a hint by other way visual, does it mean that you shall be made blind?

You may kill someone is it a reson to put you in the jail?

All of that is going too far.

Remco G's picture

I usually go to the venue by train, know noone there and there's definitely no hotel -- usually it's just some random hall in some school with two chess teams and an arbiter present, perhaps someone behind a bar (who I don't trust with 20 phones). It's a completely different situation from other sports.

forest76's picture

Telephone company just should submit when he was online offline and he can proof it!

Creemer's picture

When all is said and done, all that is left is trust.

Without trust, there can be no meaningful competition.

Regulations and 'safety' measures never created trust, just temporary diminishment of fear.

After a while, the fear comes back, bigger and stronger, and new regulations and 'safety' measures are called for.

Trust. Anybody still feel what that means?

fernando's picture

Stephen King said "The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool."

Chris's picture

mankind without the trust is very poor.

Anonymous's picture

You might check out how the international contact bridge association deals with "trust" in their major championships.

DMiA's picture

If he'd been "Tracked, spied, ... in the toilet" why he still took again his mobile phone with him to the toilet ?
He didn't have a jacket with one pocket where he could have left the phone? Or on the table. If it is switched off there's no problem in leaving it on the table. And the players' restricted area in Germany doesn't seem to be a dangerous place to leave a telephone for some minutes.

R.Mutt's picture

"Releasing this data would cost me my job, and I'd damage important relationships."

Seriously? What kind of data would do all that, except maybe child pornography?

Zapp Brannigan's picture

Good point, I was asking myself that very same question. Another point no one has touched on: It's interesting that Bindrich actually uses two arguments, a moral one (no one is supposed to interfere with my private matters) and a personal one (my professional future was threatened). I could (maybe) beliefe if he told me that he wouldn't agree to be searched based on principles OR based on the fact, that there was important data on the phone, but it's kind of strange to put these arguments together; that way it just seems he is scrambling for arguments in his defence.

Tarjei's picture

Just because his game wasn't flawless without mistakes from his part, does not mean he hadn't consulted his smart phone while on toilet. This is a typical excuse from players after being caught cheating.
"Look at the game, there are mistakes!"

At this level, even a couple of moves consulting an engine would be of great help. It would benefit Bindrich's case much more if he had sent this letter AFTER handing out his phone to the arbiter and being cleared of all charges.

As far as I remember, Bindrich was caught cheating on Playchess in 2008 and threatened lawsuit. Not sure what the end of it was, but his account got deleted.

Bastian's picture

Don't understand why there has to be a discussion at all, I am playing amateur events myself in Germany, its no problem to leave your handy in your car or hotel room and pick it up after the game. And if his handy was indeed switched off, then why not show it? They're discussing too much, and not knowing the rules is his own fault, come on.

redivivo's picture

"Releasing this data would cost me my job, and I'd damage important relationships. I could not take this risk."

Haha, what a loser to come up with such a worthless string of arguments. He should always be allowed to use his phone and no arbiter should be allowed to even check it, because that would cost him his job. If not only for the cheating he should be banned some extra time for all the bad reasons he comes up with why there should be other rules for him than for other players.

redivivo's picture

Summary of the bad arguments:

1. Bindrich didn't play perfectly after reaching a won position, so he can't have been cheating up until he got a won position.

2. Bindrich had the game entered into his phone, but that was of course done first after the game, since he apparently prefers to analyse his games with a phone app rather than with a stronger program on his computer.

3. It would cost him his job if an arbiter checked his chess app during the game.

4. "The rule of law has a higher value to me". LOL

5. Those thinking he was cheating should have approached him personally and not gone via the arbiter. OK? How stupid is that? Does he really believe that is the correct procedure?

Roger's picture

Leaving the board whilst it's your move and taking a smart phone with chess software on it with you, is just asking for trouble. If he had a laptop with him and took it to the facilities, wouldn't that be suspicious?

After the Feller case and for that matter the other German case, you have to be seen not to be doing anything suspect.

Chris's picture

that case is controversial there were no direct proves.
suspicions yes.

Diego's picture

The question is why you go to a game with your phone.

Chris's picture

answer is i am going with my mobile everywhere

jan van der marel's picture

Funny that nobody seems to know paragraph 17 of the Fide-rules: 'If the player suspected of cheating is from Germany, he's guilty.'

thomas hasyn's picture

This is a very strange story. First of all he should not have a phone with him. Secondly I think it was switched on which gives you the opportunity to cheat. So if you do that and then refurfe to have your phone inspected, it is your fault no matter what.

Dennis B.'s picture

I would refuse to play Mr. Bindrich in any future competitions unless his phone has been handed in to the tournament organizers in advance. Those who cheat damage their honest opponents!


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