Did nature call?
That's what the 25-year-old Georgian grandmaster tried to make everyone believe. But Gaioz Nigalidze was actually using his toilet breaks during the Dubai Open Chess Tournament on Saturday to check game tactics on a mobile phone hidden in the cubicle.
What a blunder!
It certainly was – for Nigalidze – who was expelled on Sunday morning by the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
What gave away his strategy?
Nigalidze's opponent during Saturday's six-round match, the 30-year-old Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian, became suspicious of Nigalidze for taking so many toilet breaks. Petrosian told the chess-news.ru website: "Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet. I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren't occupied." After Petrosian notified the chief arbiter, they found the mobile phone and headphones that Nigalidze was using to cheat with covered with toilet paper and hidden behind the pan.
Caught red-handed, then?
Well initially Nigalidze tried to deny cheating. The Dubai Chess and Culture Club said on its Facebook page: "When confronted, [he] denied he owned the device. But officials opened the smartphone and found it logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze's account." The club added that his game was being analysed by a chess application.
And it's checkmate for him?
Nigalidze could face a ban of up to 15 years. Nigel Short, an English chess grandmaster, said the two-time national champion should be stripped of his title. He tweeted: "Here is someone who should be stripped of his GM title and banned immediately." Short also tweeted that the World Chess Federation, FIDE, should introduce mandatory two-year bans for "computer cheats".
Are there many such cases?
In 2011, the French Chess Federation suspended three players after they were accused of using text messages to help them cheat at the Chess Olympiad in Russia. And in 2013, a former Italian mayor, Loris Cereda, was banned by the Italian Chess Federation for allegedly using dark glasses concealing a secret camera to cheat.
Picture courtesy of Amruta Moka / en.chessbase.com
More: [Meet the man who turned down life of crime to become chess grandmaster]1