Keep the passion and integrity of chess alive

Chess does come across cheaters on occasion and deals with them. Those that break the rules or the spirit of the game are rewarded with ranking points, increased prize money, and even advancement to a higher level of competition. However, celebrities are expected to participate in order to rediscover their inner chess lover or to contribute to a bigger cause.

The umpire does not have to use a whistle, which is a source of pride for badminton players. A TV viewer might also warn officials if a player had mistakenly shifted the ball before playing it till a few years ago in golf. If you drew the wrong card, you’re out. The honor code in chess is no less alive. It took a hit over the weekend when Nikhil Kamath, the co-founder of India’s largest stock brokerage by volume, Zerodha, was banned from the online chess site (chess.com) and criticized by everyone for cheating in a simultaneous celebrity chess event involving Viswanathan Anand. The event, it must be noted, was for charity — to provide food to the needy across India, at a time when Covid-19 has devastated lives and livelihoods.

Chess does come across cheaters on occasion and deals with them. Those that break the rules or the spirit of the game are rewarded with ranking points, increased prize money, and even advancement to a higher level of competition. However, celebrities are expected to participate in order to rediscover their inner chess lover or to contribute to a bigger cause. The fact that Mr. Anand, whose image and achievements have helped India evolve into a major chess nation over the previous three decades, was in attendance added to the occasion’s significance.

A sense of betrayal was palpable among fans. Mr. Kamath admits that he received outside assistance, and Mr. Anand has expressed his regret (in his typically understated style), but he desires to end the chapter. The event’s unethical practices may be a blip, but they must be taken seriously in order to protect the integrity of a sport in which, in addition to the human intellect, technology plays an increasingly important role.

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