Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Again A Watch!

Cheating in chess is becoming a major issue and top tournaments implement highly sophisticated anti-cheating measures. FIDE Anti-cheating regulations list wallets, smart glasses, and watches as ‘forbidden gadgets’. Also not allowed in the playing area are pens and other writing devices containing metal.

Those restrictions were in effect for the World Blitz Championship 2022, held in Almaty (Kazakhstan) the last week of the year. However, arbiters and officials were not enough vigilant of them. And French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was fortunate.

On the second day of the Blitz Championship, Maxime started his game against Armenian GM Manuel Petrosyan wearing a connected watch. Only during the game, the French player realized that he’d forgotten to remove his watch. Fortunately for him, neither his opponent nor any arbiter noticed it. Otherwise, it would be enough reason for an instant forfeit of the game. And also the tournament. Lucky Maxime went unpunished and ultimately drew his game.

Because of this incident, Maxime was highly unfocused constantly wondering how he could have been stupid enough not to realize it before. His state of mind was probably the reason that explains the course of the game. He obtained a winning advantage. Later, he spoiled it. And near the end, he was a move away from defeat after his inaccurate move 57…h3. The following diagram shows that position. However, Petrosyan didn’t find the winning move.

Can you find the move that Petrosyan missed?

176 players took part in the World Blitz Championship which consisted of 21 rounds. Maxime’s accidental mistake is an example that anti-cheating measures at such huge events are always going to be imperfect.

Ten months later, in Oct-2023, in the strong tournament “Qatar Masters Open” a similar incident happened. This time Magnus Carlsen was involved. Not because of wearing a watch himself, but his opponent Kazakh GM Alisher Suleymenov. Despite the anti-cheating rules, no one paid attention to Magnus’s opponent’s watch. Only Magnus himself!

Indian GM Baskaran Adhiban was less fortunate than Maxime. He forfeited a game in the Indian Team Championship, 2020, because of wearing an analogue wristwatch. In national events in India, all types of watches are forbidden.

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