Player caught cheating at German Championship
A participant of the German Championship, which concluded on Friday in Bonn, was caught cheating. FM Christoph Natsidis used a chess program on his smartphone during his last-round game against GM Sebastian Siebrecht to analyse a position from the game. The 23-year-old player from Bannewitz, Germany admitted that he cheated, and was excluded from the tournament, missing out on an IM norm he had scored after 8 rounds.
Christoph Natsidis | Photo © official website Yesterday another example was added to the growing list of cheating cases in chess. In a message put on their website, the organizers of the German Championship communicated that one of their participants, FM Christoph Natsidis, had been excluded from the tournament. His last-round game against GM Sebastian Siebrecht was declared lost after Natsidis had admitted that he used his smartphone, equipped with a strong chess program, during the game. Today we spoke on the phone with Natsidis' opponent Sebastian Siebrecht, and here's what he told us:
"We had reached a complicated position. I had taken on b2 which was a bit risky. However, in a very concrete position where calculating was necessary, he was constantly away from the board. Three times, I made a move and it took 8-10 minutes for him to show up at the board. Naturally I started looking for him and I even waited for a while in the toilets. One toilet was occupied, but I didn't hear any typical 'toilet sounds'. During the game [Igor] Khenkin came to me and asked: 'What's going on? Where is your opponent?' I decided to go to the arbiter and try to find Natsidis together. Then, indeed, we did find him in the toilet, but the arbiter did nothing, which made me very angry. I could not play a normal game anymore and in a position that was still complicated, I decided to offer a draw, which he accepted."
This is not where it ended, because after the game the arbiter decided to return to Natsidis, together with Siebrecht, to search the suspect anyway. They found a smartphone in his pocket. Siebrecht:
"Then I knew enough, and I walked away. Later the arbiter came to me and told me that he had asked if the phone had a chess program installed. Natsidis said yes, and showed it to the arbiter - the program was showing a position from our game, about five moves before the end."
Natsidis was caught red-handed, but didn't sweep it under the carpet. He went to his opponent, to apologize. Siebrecht continued:
"He came to me and admitted that he did it, and then apologized. He said: 'I'm completely stupid, I'm really sorry.' And indeed, it was very stupid of him to do it in the final round, because he had already scored his IM norm after the penultimate round."
Before the final round, Natsidis hadn't lost a game yet. Rated 2363, he drew his against Daniel Fridman (2661), Alexsandar Dranov (2465), Christian Seel (2484), Raj Tischbierek (2431), Oswald Gschnitzer (2444) and the tournament winner Igor Khenkin (2620) and beat Christoph Zill (2278) and Hans-Joachim Vatter (2326). It was enough for him to lose against Siebrecht to score an IM norm. No doubt the case will have serious consequences for Natsidis (who, as a law student, should have known better). In their message the organizers of the German Championship already mentioned that he would be excluded from future tournaments and that "other consequences are the subject of investigation after the tournament ends". The regulations of the German Chess Federation don't mention sanctions for cheating cases like this one, only a 2-year ban for doping use. This period of 2 years is borrowed from sports like cycling, where a a normal career lasts about a decade.
"Because a chess career can last forty years, the penalty for such a thing should perhaps be more than two years,"
said GM Sebastian Siebrecht. He added:
"It's absolutely necessary that any technical equipment, like phones, or tablets, or whatever, are forbidden in a tournament hall. If you take it with you, you have to deliver it to the arbiter. These days you cannot do without such a rule."
The news from Germany comes when the chess world hasn't yet forgotten another big story about cheating: in March of this year three players were declared guilty of cheating during the 2010 Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. Last month, in an appeal, two of the three saw their penalties increased. Igor Khenkin won the German Championship, edging out Jan Gustafsson on tie-break. In the women's group, Sarah Hoolt finished in first place. The tournament was held in Bonn, Germany from May 26th till June 3rd. As always, you can download all games in a PGN file below. In the game viewer you can find the games most readers will be interested in: those of Christoph Natsidis.
Game viewer by ChessTempo
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