High-Tech Grandmaster-level Chess Olympiad Cheating Uncovered

Computers have reached the point where they can beat chess champions. So is it hard to believe that a chess champion might cheat by using a chess program and an elaborate scheme using text messages?

That's what happened last year in Siberia, during the 2010 chess Olympiad. At least, that is what authorities believe happened last year in a scandal that involved up-and-coming French chess grandmaster Sebastian Feller, 20; Cyril Marzolo, 32; and French captain Arnaud Hauchard, 39. All have been suspended by the French national chess federation.

How did it work? Marzolo watched Feller's match from a livestream online. He then enter the moves into Firebird, open-source chess software developed by an anonymous team of Russian programmers, and then relay the move, via SMS, to Hauchard.

Hauchard would give the move to Feller by standing next to certain tables at in the hall. Those "moves" had been pre-defined, such that Feller could translate Hauchard's positions in the hall into chess moves.

The scheme might have gone undiscovered if the French chess federation’s vice president Joanna Pomain hadn't found an incriminating text message sent to Marzolo by Hauchard that read "Hurry up and send me some moves."

Further investigation then discovered hundreds of coded text messages between Marzolo and Hauchard, all sent while Feller was playing his matches. The trio has denied the accusations, and will appeal the suspensions, which were decreed this week. Feller and Marzolo reportedly both face three year bans from the game, while Hauchard could be banned from his post as coach and selector for life.