Just the Rules: Cheaters, The Rulebook, and You

The aura of chess cheaters has changed chess. Their underhanded ways have backed tournaments into implementing all sorts of stop-gap anti-cheating measures, especially at big prize buck events. We see this with their electronic gear usage, the restroom wand routine, limits on hallway conversations, cell phone storage requirements (or bans), etc. These measures do manage to keep honest people honest. They also give wood-pushers some reassurance that cheating has become a lot more difficult to pull off.

Some would-be scammers still put in the effort. A few have even tried some fairly simple methods to increase their win-loss score, such as nestling an unobserved cell phone in their lap. When they do get spotted receiving outside game help — i.e. proof! — they get tossed from the event. Did you know if you were an earlier opponent of the (alleged) cheater, you are due compensation? The rules give us some insight into just what game score help you might expect.


You Won Your Game Against the Cheater

If your earlier score against an expelled cheater gives you the win, then there is no adjustment needed to your victory point, and no, you don’t get an extra game point. The game is rated. But this necessary rule does beg the question: how is it that you beat a cheater? Isn’t it more likely that you lost to them?  


You Scored a Draw Against the Cheater

Okay, in an earlier round you managed to score a half-point against the now-expelled cheater. It is impossible to know if they cheated in your contest or not. It is impossible to know what your score would have been. Your score is now adjusted upward to reflect a one-point bye, replacing the old game score of a half-point. Again, a needed rule. But a cheater that could only muster up a draw? That is some really incompetent swindler.


You Lose Against the Cheater

The rules do need to look at all cases of you against the cheaters. Most likely, your wood-pushing efforts will result in you walking away with zero points against an expelled cheater. Your new adjusted game score is now a half-point bye that counts in the standings and for prizes.


The Cheater is Caught During Your Game!

You win via forfeit.

Besides cheating, there are other reasons that one of your opponents may be removed from the tournament. Depending on the circumstances, those games may or not be rated.

There are also some variations on how to treat your score against the expelled cheater. They will not be discussed here. Typically, most chess warriors don’t even realize what happens to their game score after a rival tries to fudge game results. Jumping into the mazes of rule 28I variations is left for another time.

Want more? Past columns can be found here or by searching the Chess Life Online archives.

Plus, listen to Tim when he was a guest on the podcasts “One Move at a Time” and “The Chess Angle.”

Tim Just is a National Tournament Director, FIDE National Arbiter, and editor of the 5th, 6th, and 7th editions of the US Chess Rulebook. He is also the author of My Opponent is Eating a Doughnut & Just Law, which are both available from US Chess Sales and Amazon/Kindle. Additionally, Tim revised The Guide To Scholastic Chess, a guide created to help teachers and scholastic organizers who wish to begin, improve, or strengthen their school chess program. US Chess awarded the 2022 Tournament Director Lifetime Achievement Award to Tim. He is also a member of the US Chess Rules Committee plus the Tournament Director Certification Committee (TDCC). His new column, exclusive to US Chess, “Just the Rules” will help clarify potentially confusing regulations.