The Scandal Rocking the Chess World

Elliot Kaufman:

My chess career peaked when I was 6. One game away from victory in the Ontario Chess Championships for the first grade, I blundered and lost.

Since then, I’ve traded on chess trivia. My father spiked a tennis ball into the face of Aman Hambleton, now a grandmaster and popular online chess streamer, when Mr. Hambleton was 12. I tried, without success, to recruit grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky to my college fraternity. In hindsight, his wonderful attacking style might not have translated to the beer-pong table. After my brother accepted a draw in a game at the 2004 World Youth Chess Championships, a 12-year-old Fabiano Caruana, now one of the world’s top players, leaned over from a neighboring board and told him that there had been a way to win. After a decade of second-guessing, my brother entered the game into a computer engine and found out it was a dead draw. Mr. Caruana had been wrong.

Computer engines have another use in chess: cheating. Magnus Carlsen, the best in the world, wouldn’t stand a chance against Stockfish, a top engine. That’s the issue today in a scandal that has the chess world as agitated as a Russian chain smoker with his chess clock winding down.

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