The world’s top two chess players could face lie-detector tests if they are suspected of cheating, the organisers of the World Chess Championship said today.
World Chess, which is overseeing the Magnus Carlsen-Fabiano Caruana title match in London, said it has called in private detective agency Pinkertons to protect the competition from cheats.
Spectators have already witnessed metal detectors being used and electronic device sweeping taking place in the glass-fronted playing area before the last round of the Carlsen-Caruana match.
But the organisers have now revealed they have employed outside help to carry out background screening checks and covert surveillance at the venue.
Further, World Chess has also said that on their demand or the appeals committee it may deploy a lie detector (polygraph) test if cheating or outside interference is suspected.
Pinkertons is a US-based security specialist founded in 1850, whose agents protected Abraham Lincoln and hounded the outlaws Jesse James and Butch Cassidy.
Prior to the 12-round event, Pinkerton authored an assessment on cheating in chess that outlines common cheating strategies, notable incidents of cheating, and the best strategy to combat it.
It comes a day after Caruana, the world number 2 battling Carlsen for his title, suffered an embarrassing data leak which revealed his top secret preparations on YouTube.
The long-awaited match between the world’s number and number 2 ranked players is currently locked 2-2 with round 5 taking place today.
Cheating in chess is rare
Even though cheating is rare in top-level chess, both players have to be absolutely sure no cheating or outside help is possible.
The last major cheating scandal at the World Championship was in 1978 when Cold War rivals Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi faced each other in a bad-tempered affair that exploded over bilberry yoghurt.
Korchnoi’s camp that Karpov was receiving messages in his snacks during the game.
The Russians sent parapsychologist Dr Zukhar to stare at Korchnoi from the front row of the audience and Korchnoi took to wearing reflective glasses.
The latest anti-cheating measures are geared towards preventing any suspicion of possible interference and easy way to detect it in case there are concerns.
CEO of World Chess Ilya Merenzon said: “The 2018 Championship is the most protected chess event in history, both in regular security and advanced anti-cheating and fair play measures.
“Pinkerton employs the most advanced technology, but it’s very much warranted given the interest this Match is generating, and increased betting and overall profile of the event.
Rory Lamrock, Pinkerton’s United Kingdom Director, added: “The World Chess Championships is an extremely high-profile event that has a genuinely global following.
“Any cheating or other related activity could severely damage the brand’s integrity and cause worldwide concern through the competitive chess community. It is our job to ensure that does not happen and I am confident our team is up to the task.”