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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cheating in chess. Where will it lead?

An Indian chess player has been banned for 10 years for cheating after he was caught using his mobile phone's wireless device to win games, chess officials said on Wednesday.

The player, Umakant Sharma, had logged rating points at a rapid pace in the last 18 months and also qualified for the national championship, arousing the suspicion of officials and bemusing rivals.

Mr. Sharma was finally caught at a recent tournament when officials discovered that he had stitched a Bluetooth device in a cloth cap which he always pulled over his ears.

Officials decided that it was a little odd that Sharma always wore a cloth cap when he played his games and decided to have a look at the item.

Sure enough inside the cap they found a Bluetooth headset which Sharma used to chat to his accomplices, who used a computer to relay moves to him.

He communicated to his accomplices outside the hall, who then used a computer to relay moves to him, Indian chess federation secretary D.V. Sundar said on Wednesday.

"We have banned him for 10 years," he told Reuters. "We wanted to send a clear message to such people."

Chess officials were also probing whether another player had similar advantages through such illegal means, he added.

There is a lot of money flowing around the international chess scene. Recently the Bulgarian team came back from an international match in Russia complaining that their rivals took a few too many bathroom breaks.

They discovered a computer connection in the bathroom but were prevented from making a complaint by the Russian players.

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