A classic game is being undermined by technology, allowing players to come up with elaborate cheating schemes:
In the 2006 World Open in Philadelphia, the most moneyed tournament in the land — this year’s event, which concluded in July, had a kitty of $250,000 — tournament director Mike Atkins got bad feelings about a competitor named Steve Rosenberg, entered in the 2000-and-under division (a category for competent but non-master players). Rosenberg came into the tournament having won 18 matches in a row. Then Rosenberg kept his winning streak going against superior competition in the early rounds of the World Open, all the while wearing several layers of clothing in the heat of the Northeastern summer and playing each game with his hands cupped over his ears. Atkins eventually surmised the oddball get-up was part of a scheme, and that Rosenberg was somehow getting moves fed to him. With Rosenberg undefeated heading into the late rounds of the tournament and one win away from taking home the $18,000 first prize, Atkins confronted him about his suspicions, and during the interrogation a tiny electronic device was discovered in Rosenberg’s ear. The player claimed it was a hearing aid; Atkins hopped on his laptop and from Internet research quickly found that the gadget, called a Phonito, was in fact a radio receiver that could be used to relay information from a third party, and, in this case, was likely a third party accessing Fritz or some other chess engine. (The $270 Phonito was manufactured by Phonak, a Swiss electronics firm that at that time was in the news as the sponsor of Floyd Landis during his Tour de France cheating episode.) Rosenberg declined to answer Atkins’s questions; given what was at stake, the tournament director took the non-answers as a confession and booted him out of the tournament.
“Rooked.” — Dave McKenna, Grantland
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