Cheating via SMS is nothing new, however smart people doing dumb things is always fun in my opinion so I bring you this awesome story. Anyway, last Friday, the French Chess Federation accused one of its top chess players of cheating during last year’s Chess Olympiad. I confess the only thing mobile about this post is the fact that they used text messages to cheat but without cellphones, this feat would not have been possible at all. The preface of this tale seems rather simple, some dude got text messages to help him make moves during a tournament. This was not how it all went down though.
The scheme was pretty elaborate and involved 3 people working in tandem to pull off. What happened was that each game was broadcast live via the web. One guy would watch on a computer from a remote location, and input the positions of all the pieces into a sophisticated computer,Firebird, to calculate best move. He would then send the desired move to a the French team captain, located in the same competition hall as the player. Before the actual match, the players assigned values representing a particular square to each table in the hall. The second person would then relocated to the table corresponding to the proposed move. Once in position, the player could easily see which move to make. The actual player could take his time after getting the “message” to avoid suspicion and everything would be golden.
The Stupidity Sprinkles
Here’s where they dropped the ball, and I’m glad they did. Being the brilliant guys they were, they decided to use a mobile phone that belonged to the French Chess Federation. The Vice-President of the Federation saw a suspicious text message asking for the recipient to “hurry up and send us some moves”. Obviously this prompted the Vice-President to do a little digging into the itemized phone bill since it was under her name and discovered that the user had received 180 text messages during the course of the competition. It turns out that almost all of the moves made by the accused player also happen to be be the first choice move suggested by the Firebird computer.
So what did we learn today kids? Number one, don’t cheat, especially when you’re in a room full of other brainiacs. Number two, if you must cheat, don’t be so stupid as to leave ridiculous amounts of incriminating evidence pointing to back to yourself!