While I write this question, I am certain I completely miss the spirit of the world championship. But however, I got curious about how well the cheating-countermeasures at the championship actually work.

Before the match, I watched a TV program which explained how the games would be, and they showed us a metal detector that the players had to go through before every match. The purpose of the metal detector was to find devices that could be used for cheating.

In today's match (number 7), I notice that Anand is wearing his wrist watch. I would believe this would trigger the metal detector, and I doubt they would dismantle it to check if it's ok.

Since the metal detector is a countermeasure to cheating, should they let devices such as wristwatches pass?

I seriously doubt that anyone would cheat at this level - I cannot imagine the impact it would have on the game (their career).


4 Answers 4


The organizers certainly noticed the watch, if you did. Therefore, since it was allowed at the match, they must have determined that it could not aid chess play in any way.

Their reasoning should be simple: either the watch communicates with an outside device in order to signal the player, or else the watch does all chess calculation itself.

Communication with an outside device requires radiation which is easily monitored by a counter-cheating system, and a watch that could a) internally calculate chess moves at such a strength as to aid an elite human, b) accurately yet undetectably signal the wearer from an analog clockface, and c) accurately read the chess board, is currently technologically impossible.

Hence, dismantling the watch is unnecessary until technology allows undetectable wireless communication or a computer of the described caliber becomes even a remote possibility.

  • 1
    The device would not need to detect the board, as the match is being streamed live to the world with only a small delay. Thus it would only need to be able to recieve information for Anand.
    – DTR
    Nov 18, 2014 at 7:27
  • If he would cheat, a radio receiver should go fairly undetectable - many clocks even have radio receivers to synchronize time. Electromagnetic radiation is everywhere, and you really know what you should look for to find chess moves in all that noise. Nov 18, 2014 at 8:05
  • 1
    There would be no possible way to have detected a signal that the watch was receiving. It could have come from a simple radio. The watch could have been set up to vibrate at low frequency and no one would have noticed. My personal suspicion is that the watch was only used to keep the time, and probably ran a little slow.
    – Travis J
    Nov 18, 2014 at 10:29

It's just a watch.

Obviously it'd be a different story if the watch was a smartwatch, had some type of detailed display(digital) or did anything else but tell the time in an analog fashion. These players are being monitored by camera and by people live for the entire duration of their matches. The odds of getting away with cheating are incredibly small.

  • 1
    It probably is. But how can you be sure? Nov 17, 2014 at 15:07
  • @Dogeatcatworld Well first of all he's not winning right now which would make for a lousy cheater. Second of all players are thoroughly checked for any kind of electronic devices that may allow for cheating. Thirdly Anand has played for so long and has such a stellar image as a man who has played among the best for so many years that accusing him of such would be outrageous and fourthly when you practically want to believe they're cheating you're no longer qualified to judge them on whether they are.
    – bucketman
    Nov 21, 2014 at 8:24

I don't think Anand is cheating at all, but it's an interesting hypothetical.

A more reasonable thing to ask is: how long has Anand been wearing that watch? Many people wear the same accessories for many years if they have significance, so it's even possible that the watch has been used in tournaments long before cheating like this was worthwhile or viable.

Another factor is that Anand has already lost one game and come perilously close to losing a second. While it's not inconcievable that this is just a ruse to make later (illegitimate) wins seem real, you'd have to be pretty dumb to go to all that trouble to cheat and then lose anyway.

The final thing to note is that as Peter Svidler noted in the commentary (I think during Game 2?), all wireless radiocommunications signals are being jammed in the venue.

  • Someone has edited my question title. It used to be "Is Anand cheating (the metal detector)". My rationale is, they are supposed to detect electronics that can be used in cheating, and watches (usually) contain electronics. Nov 18, 2014 at 7:57
  • @Dogeatcatworld Fair enough, but my point about the watch maybe being used by him (I haven't checked this at all, it's just an idea so it could be completely new) before it was viable for a computer that size to have those capabilities, especially if the watch-face is analog (giving even less size for the computer). Of course it's then theoretically possible that Anand had an identical replica made to help him cheat, etc. But ultimately while they need to prevent cheating there's also an element of trusting that players of that calibre are going to be honest unless the opponent complains.
    – DTR
    Nov 18, 2014 at 8:04

It's just a wristwatch. It isn't a smartwatch, which could have software downloaded on it - an Apple watch is virtually a undersized phone. Anand couldn't be cheating, since the only thing his wristwatch could provide was the time.

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