Cheating in chess is not rampant: Anand


Viswanathan Anand | ANI

Kolkata: Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand, who is now deputy president of world governing body FIDE, feels cheating in his sport is "not rampant" and limited to "online" tournaments only.

Reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen kicked up a storm in September this year when he levelled cheating allegations against US teenager Hans Niemann, following his stunning defeat in round three of the Sinquefield Cup.

"It's a new area. Yes, of course we know the possibility (of cheating) is there and it has to give you worry, but I don't think it's rampant," Anand told PTI in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of Tata Steel Chess India that gets underway here on Tuesday.

"At least it (cheating) is not on offline. In online, I don't know the percentage but it's not rampant. There are millions of games played online. But nonetheless, it's better to address the problem early rather than leaving it too late."

The five-time world champion Indian, however, feels the problem of cheating (online) can never be solved as the technology would keep advancing.

"I don't think we can ever solve this because technology keeps evolving, so it's something you have to keep adapted to. You have the framework, that's very important."

He said the fight against cheating in chess was like an "arms race" to some degree.

"As technology gets better and better, you have to keep adapting," he said.

"To some degree, what we are relying on right now is the data analysis, through statistical analysis, we are seeing a large number of moves to see if there's a correlation."

The Carlsen-Niemann saga is now under investigation by world governing body FIDE's Fair Play Commission as the Norwegian world champion risks suspension for making an allegation without evidence.

The US Grandmaster, who has filed a USD 100 million lawsuit against Carlsen, could also face consequences if sufficient evidence of cheating is found.

"We have a commission to look into the matter. First of all, it's to see what can be done and next how it can be implemented across thousands of tournaments because you want some standardisation, that's also important because you don't want the security checks to become too onerous for the players," Anand said.

The Indian wizard, who also runs Westbridge Anand Chess Academy (WACA), hopes one among the teen trio of D Gukesh, Arjun Erigaisi and R Praggnanandhaa can become the next world champion.

"The path is fairly clear for them, you have to keep growing as a chess player. You try to understand your chess better, you look at your game and what's going wrong. We have a real chance to qualify for the Candidates in the next cycle.

"I'm glad that at WACA we are supporting them. We try to find out what they are developing and we constantly keep in touch with them. The idea is to be there and support them."

Anand is happy that India has talent depth in chess.

"For so many years I was the only player in top-100. But now probably six or seven. It's nice to know that we are solidly placed.

"But, modern chess is very unpredictable, there're so many players fighting for so few spots that it comes down to the wire. The USA, Uzbekistan are very, very strong rivals."

He said tournaments like Tata Steel will allow Indian players to measure themselves against the best in the world.

"You need one marquee event happening in the country."

Anand said he's enjoying every bit of his new role as an administrator.

"I've enjoyed it so far, it's going to be a learning experience. There will be a lot of travel commitments next year because of the World Championships, Olympiad. It'll be a busy schedule. I'm looking forward to try and making contribution.

"I still play occasionally. If some event comes I'm open to playing, but not as often as before," he signed off.

PTI

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