Just for fun and curiosity. Has any GM ever tried to cheat during a game? Maybe even making (on purpose or not) an illegal move that was not caught by his opponent?

NOTE: Of course when you are playing on the computer there is no cheating, because the computer won't allow it. I am talking about face-to-face real-life games.

  • 1
    Describe cheating Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 19:56
  • 1
    We could keep speculating. Toiletgate and what not...
    – RingMaster
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 5:00
  • Maybe not super GM level, but there is the curious case of Borislav Ivanov. There are some fascinating Youtube videos documenting the situation.
    – firtydank
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 8:15

7 Answers 7


There have been cheating scandals in top level chess, most notably in 2010 involving French top 100 player Sebastien Feller and in 2012 involving German GM Falko Bindrich.

These two scandals involved computer assistance. There are other forms of cheating, like throwing games, which are harder to prove.

Illegal moves aren't an issue, but Kasparov allegedly violated the touch-move rule in a game against Judith Polgar.


Tech mate? Top grandmaster claims chess is riddled with cheats using smartphones. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11487515/Tech-mate-Top-grandmaster-claims-chess-is-riddled-with-cheats-using-smartphones.html


Most answers here talk about computer assistance, but I think the OP was asking about knowingly make illegal moves, which happens from time to time at club level (I cannot think of any GM-level example apart from Kasparov's touch-move rule against Polgar, see BlindKungFuMaster)

  • I have once seen a pawn on f3 advancing to f5, with mate! That happened in a slow tournament game, and the "checkmated player" accepted his loss.
  • In Blitz, I know a player whose pawns run faster than most of his opponent's in pawn-race endgames. It's probably due to them moving multiple squares at a time. The same happens sometimes with the king.
  • I've also seen a knight on f4 moving to h6, with mate.
  • Finally, in a game between two masters (not GMs, though), one of them claimed a stalemate that didn't exist. His opponent accepted the draw

If you slightly broaden your definition of 'cheating', you should consider Bobby Fischer's complaint of collusion during the 1962 World Chess Championship (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Chess_Championship_1963).

In short, the World Chess Championship had qualifying rounds, where to advance, you needed to be one of the top candidates based on number of points accumulated during a round-robin stage. In such a system, a win is worth 1 point, and a draw is worth 1/2 points. Therefore if you are at the top of the leaderboard and are playing the 2nd place on the leaderboard, and you both tie, then you would both retain your respective #1 & #2 spots.

Fischer alleged that there was collusion amongst most of the the Soviet players, who agreed beforehand that they would draw against eachother in order to avoid a dreaded '0' points on a match. In particular, this agreement is alleged to have occurred when 'forced draws' between these Soviet players would have mathematically prevented Bobby Fischer from reaching the next stage in the championship. This collusion can be seen as sort of a 'nationalistic team spirit', when the WCC is supposed to be an individual competitor event.

Note also that 'agreed draws' were against the rules of the competition. In fact, no player was allowed to agree to a draw before the ~15th move, entirely to prevent such collusion. So instead, the Fischer alleged that the Soviet players colluded by playing well-known drawish lines, that lasted until after the 15th move, at which point they conveniently agreed to a draw. Fischer's allegation was predicated on the notion that players lower on the leaderboard would not have given their opponent a 'leg up' in the tournament by guaranteeing a draw - instead they should have been taking fighting chances for a win themselves.

There were 3 significant fallouts from these accusations:

(1) The ICC indirectly acknowledged Fischer's complaints by changing the format of the championship from Round-Robin to knockout elimination;

(2) The chess community was faced with direct proof of the problems caused by chess being increasingly 'drawish'. In this case, it was shown how convincingly the Soviets were able to play games that were entirely by the book, from first move to last, with no innovation. That conversation continues today (where the proportion of draws at top-level play continues to increase); and

(3) Bobby Fischer invented Fischer Random chess (AKA Chess960), which is a variant that includes randomly shuffling pieces for each player before play. Fischer argued that by randomizing the pieces, innovation would increase, and no similar collusion could occur, because there would be no such thing as a known tablebase of drawish games to collude with. [*Note that he did not invent Fischer Random until the 90's, so whether we can say the collusion strongly led to this or not is debatable].


Arkadij Naiditsch has accepted that he's cheated on playchess.com server.

  • Why cheat? He's already a grandmaster.
    – user24344
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 2:05

Borislav Ivanov! WOW. That's pretty crazy. Of course he was using some kind of wireless communication. It should be common sense to do a deep screening on the person body and clothes before playing, otherwise someone can be passing the moves to the player. This is a very common magic trick nowadays. Unfortunately a lot of scam bags use magic to pretend they are talking to god and fool the idiots.

For the naive people out there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7BQKu0YP8Y



Lombardy cheated against me in the Eastern Open round 4. He was a GM and had been world junior champ.

He got caught cheating a couple of tournaments later.

He kept books and notes in a mens room stall and would go look at them every move.

I wish I had followed him and busted him sooner by having the proof only back then no cell phone cameras and I did not have a regular camera with me.

  • Would that be Father William Lombardy?
    – Philip Roe
    Commented May 2, 2022 at 4:46

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