top of page

Over-the-Board Cheating in Chess: The Growing Issue and the Need for Improved Security Measures

In recent years, cheating has become a growing concern in the world of chess. With the rise of chess engines and online play, it has become easier than ever to cheat. However, cheating is not limited to online play. Cheating over the board is also a real and serious problem.

One of the most recent and high-profile cases of over the board cheating involves the young American chess prodigy Hans Niemann and world champion Magnus Carlsen. In a rapid game played in July 2021, Niemann defeated Carlsen, who at the time was rated over 200 points higher than him. The result was shocking to many in the chess world, and accusations of cheating began to fly.

Courtesy: Chessbase

While there is no concrete evidence that Niemann cheated, the suspicion arose due to his unusually high level of play and the fact that he had been caught using a chess engine during an online game just a few months prior. Niemann denied the accusations of cheating, but the incident has brought attention to the issue of over the board cheating and the need for improved security measures.

Lack of Measures:

Basic security measures, such as metal detectors, are already used in some tournaments to prevent players from bringing electronic devices into the playing area. However, these measures may not be enough to detect more sophisticated forms of cheating, such as the use of hidden earpieces or other covert communication devices.

Possible Solution & Importance of Discussion:

One technological solution that has been proposed is the use of computer vision and machine learning algorithms to monitor player behavior during games. This technology can detect unusual movements or behavior patterns that may indicate cheating. For example, if a player repeatedly looks in a certain direction or touches a certain part of their body, it may suggest that they are receiving outside assistance.

However, the use of technology to monitor player behavior raises privacy concerns, and it is important to ensure that any measures taken to prevent cheating do not violate players' rights or undermine the integrity of the game.


Accusing someone of cheating is a serious matter and can have serious consequences, both for the accused and for the game of chess as a whole. False accusations can damage a player's reputation and create mistrust within the community. On the other hand, ignoring or failing to address legitimate suspicions of cheating can undermine the integrity of the game and discourage fair play.

To ensure fairness in chess, it is important to take a proactive approach to preventing and detecting cheating. This may involve a combination of improved security measures, technological solutions, and greater education and awareness around the issue. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an environment in which fair play is valued and rewarded, and cheating is seen as unacceptable.

Types of Cheating:

  • Match fixing involves colluding with or paying someone for a draw before a tournament game even begins in order to preserve standing or energy and improve the overall odds of winning a better prize. This practice dates back almost as far as the chess tournament itself and has been known to happen in many countries around the world, including Hungary where it is commonly used to achieve titled norms.

  • Piece manipulation involves breaking the touch-move rule, which requires players to move a piece as soon as they touch it. A player can also not let go of a piece on a new square and then change its destination. In some cases, players may try to manipulate this rule to gain an advantage by making a different move than the one they touched or by changing their mind about where to move a piece.

  • Engine cheats are the most recent and widespread form of cheating in chess. They involve using computer engines or other software during a game to analyze positions and suggest moves. This can give the cheater a significant advantage over their opponent, especially if the opponent is not using similar software.

The most blatant example of engine cheating to date occurred in 2019 when GM Igors Rausis was caught conferring with a phone engine in a bathroom stall during a tournament. The incident was captured on camera, and Rausis was subsequently banned for six years and stripped of his title. The incident was particularly notable because Rausis was a well-known player with a long history in the game, and the brazenness of his cheating shocked many in the chess community.

To combat cheating in chess, it is important to take a multi-faceted approach that includes education, prevention, and detection. This may involve increasing awareness of the various forms of cheating, implementing more stringent security measures, and using technology to monitor player behavior during games.

GM Igors Rausis using his phone to cheat... Photo: Photographer unknown.

It is also important to ensure that any measures taken to prevent cheating do not infringe on players' rights or create unnecessary obstacles to fair play. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an environment in which fair play is valued and rewarded, and cheating is seen as unacceptable.


  1. Winter, Edward. "Chess Cheating." Chess History Center, 13 Dec. 2019,

  2. "Chess player expelled for cheating in restroom." ESPN, 9 May 2019,

  3. "Hans Niemann beats Magnus Carlsen in rapid game.", 6 July 2021,

  4. "Igors Rausis banned for cheating." Chess24, 12 Jul. 2019,

  5. Pandey, Avijit. "How to Stop Chess Cheating.", 7 Aug. 2020,

bottom of page