Chess grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze banned from Dubai Open for using electronic device

A chess Grandmaster has been banned from the Dubai Open Chess Tournament after he was found to have used an electronic device during a match.

Gaioz Nigalidze was caught using an electroic device during his sixth round match of the Dubai Open. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP
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DUBAI // A chess grandmaster has been banned from the Dubai Open Chess Tournament after he was found to have used an electronic device during a match, a tournament spokesman said on Sunday.

Gaioz Nigalidze of Georgia was caught by tournament officials consulting a device hidden in one of the toilet cubicles of the Dubai Chess and Culture Club during his sixth-round encounter with Armenia’s Tigran Petrosian.

Mahdi Abdul Rahim, the tournament’s chief arbiter, said Petrosian had earlier told tournament officials of his suspicion that Nigalidze was getting help from a chess computer through a portable electronic device during the game, as the Armenian noticed the Georgian was frequenting the toilet after each move during a crucial part of the game.

When the officials initially checked Nigalidze, they did not find any device with him, but the tournament director and chief arbiter suspected he was always using the same cubicle.

When they checked the cubicle in question, they found a mobile phone and a headset hidden behind the pan and covered with toilet paper.

When confronted, Nigalidze denied he owned the device, but officials opened the smart phone and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze’s account.

They also found his game being analysed in one of the chess applications.

Nigalidze was back-to-back winner of the Georgian chess championship in 2013 and 2014, and was also crowned champion of the Al Ain Classic last December.

Abdul Rahim has removed Nigalidze from the tournament and will send a report about the incident to the International Chess Federation, which has recently established a commission to deal with cheating in chess competitions.

He said players proven to have cheated will be suspended for three years from all sanctioned tournaments, and up to 15 years in case of a repeat offence.

A tournament spokesman on Monday said the Georgian Chess Federation had apologized to chief arbiter Mahdi Abdul Rahim for the actions of Nigalidze.