Anti-Cheating Regulations To Keep Cheating Away

A GM barged into the World's Top 50 using unfair means. Fortunately, an arbiter who knew the anti-cheating regulations saved the game's reputation!

Anti-Cheating Regulations To Keep Cheating Away
Written by
Ranveer Mohite
Published on
Aug 2, 2022
Read time
4 min
Arbiters Rules FIDE

In 2019, a Grandmaster's quick rating rise looked like a true miracle. Despite being in his late 50s, he had entered the World's top 50, gaining roughly 150 points in just 2 years.

But there was something wrong with it.

Then in one Open tournament, where this 'Grandmaster' was participating, an arbiter noticed something suspicious. Immediately, the arbiter called the chairman of the Fair Play Commission, asking for advice in this situation.

And soon enough, this 'GM' was caught red-handed cheating using a mobile phone in the toilet. He later even admitted to this in writing.

FIDE slapped a 6-year ban and stripped him from the GM title.

Imagine what would have happened if this GM wasn't caught. How many honest players would fall victims to cheating? And how many cheaters would win 5-figure prizes through unfair means?

That's where good arbiters and FIDE's Anti-cheating protocols come into the picture. They keep the game clean, making sure it's played in a fair spirit!

Implementing anti-cheating measures is one of the essential tasks for organizers and arbiters.

What is cheating in chess?

Cheating involves any form of external help to make better decisions on the board. This external help can be using mobiles phone, other electronic devices or even speaking to spectators.

FIDE's anti-cheating regulations

Every FIDE-rated event must have anti-cheating measures in place. Some require stricter measures than others.

For example - In a World Championship match, the stakes are higher. The winner earns a big reward and also etches their name in history. So an event of this magnitude should have the strictest anti-cheating measures.

It would be a disaster for the game's reputation if one could cheat here.

On the other hand, implementing the strictest anti-cheating measure would be hard in a FIDE-rated tournament with 500 participants. Organizers of such events usually have lesser resources and the number of participants is higher. The stakes are lower here.

So for such events, you still need anti-cheat measures, but not as strict as World Championship matches.

Fortunately, the world body of chess has a framework for the type of tournaments and the level of protection it requires.

FIDE Level 1 Events require Maximum Protection

In 2022 Candidates, Hikaru Nakamura's wallet was scanned with a hand-held metal detecting device.

He wasn't happy. And it's understandable why. You have a big game that could potentially decide your future. And then someone shows up, asking you to pull out your wallet. It's not fun.

However, that's the level of protection a top event like the Candidates requires.

According to FIDE's handbook, these 'top events include:

  • The World Championship matches,
  • Round-robin tournaments where the average rating is over 2600 elo (2400+ for women). Eg - Tata Steel Masters, etc.
  • Any event where the prize fund is above €100,000.

As per maximum protection, the organizers and the arbiters have the following duty:

  • They must ensure there's a separate area for players(Playing Area) and spectators. At the same time, measures should be taken to eliminate the contact between players and the arbiters because it will only help reduce the chances of cheating.
  • Anything containing metal, be it a writing device, pen or phone must not be allowed in the playing hall. Instead, they should be a separate room where players can safely store any such metal devices.
  • The chief arbiter should check the venue before, after and during the event.
  • For all classical games played in such tournaments, sending these games to FIDE is a must. However, it's not compulsory to send the Rapid and blitz games though FIDE recommends it.
  • It's a must to have some form of metal detection equipment. You can also have one additional anti-cheating arbiter or cameras to reduce the chances of cheating significantly.

FIDE Level 2 Events require Increased Protection

These include competitions where:

  • GM, WGM, IM or WIM norms or titles can be earned
  • The prize fund for this event is above €20,000.

These events still require strict protection though not as strict as Level 1 events.

FIDE Level 3 Events require Standard Protection

These include tournaments like:

  • Open FIDE-rated tournaments
  • Events where the Prize fund is below €20,000.

For such tournaments, implementing all the strictest anti-cheating measures might not be possible. However, the arbiters and organizers still must follow certain anti-cheating protocols like:

  • Having a separate area for players and spectators.
  • If possible, send all tournament games for screening in a Pgn format.
  • An arbiter must have a system in place for conducting random checks during a tournament.

What to do when you know someone is cheating?

As a player, you can report this incident to the chief arbiter. Also, you can submit an in-tournament complaint form to the arbiter.

The chief arbiter can submit a report to the Fair Play Commission. The FPC appoints an investigation body to probe further into the matter. A final verdict is given after the investigation is completed.

What happens to the player who's found guilty of cheating?

The player who's found guilty can be banned for up to:

  • 3 years if it's their 1st offense and they are older than 18. (2 years if they're below 18, and 1 year if they're below 14).
  • 15 years if it's their 2nd offense.


Bringing more people to the game attracts sponsors. With sponsors, tournaments can offer attractive cash rewards for participants. It's a win-win for everyone involved in chess.

Unfortunately, an attractive cash prize also attracts players who will use unfair means just to earn the reward.

Therefore, implementing strict anti-cheating protocols becomes extremely important to keep the game's reputation clean. Arbiters and organizers should be aware of them.

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