Cheating chess champ banned

Three French grand masters implicated in text message scam at world championships

24 March 2011

FRENCH chess champion Sébastien Feller has been banned after being accused of cheating during the 2010 world championships.

The 19-year-old from Lorraine, who is fifth in the junior world rankings and an international grand master, has been suspended for five years.

He is accused of setting up a complicated cheating system involving text messages at the world championships in Khanty-Mansiysk in Russia with fellow international grand master Arnaud Hachard, a French team selector, and chess master Cyril Marzolo, also from Lorraine.

Investigators from the chess federation Fédération Française des Echecs (FFE) say they fear this was not the trio’s first attempt at cheating.

The cheating was done in three stages: while Feller was playing in the hall, Marzolo was in France, where he checked possible moves on his computer using specialised software.

He then sent the move in coded pairs of numbers by SMS to Hachard.

Once Hachard had the suggested move, he would position himself in the hall behind one of the other players’ tables in a predefined coded system, where each table represented a move to play.

The FFE says that, in all, 200 text messages were sent during the tournament. The scam was uncovered by Joanna Pomian, the federation’s vice-president.

Feller is now appealing against the suspension; the FFE for its part is considering whether to take legal action against him for damaging the reputation of the federation.

Photo: Stefan64

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