Alleged Cheating at the Africa Online Individual Chess Championship 2021!

Youth player Beghriche Rami Tedjeddine has been officially withdrawn from further participation in the ongoing AIOCC 2021 with immediate effect!

The player has been flagged by the organizers as possibly using some form of assistance during one or more of his games. As this is a Fair Play decision, neither the player nor his representatives can appeal such a decision as laid out in the rules of the tournament before the beginning of games. Here is the official communication below:

Termination of participation of Mr Beghriche Rami Tedjeddine,

Dear colleagues
The above player have been flagged by our Fair Play methodology as being highly likely to have received assistance during one or many of your games during this event.

Players online can be tempted to break the rules by getting help from a computer engine. We observe players during their games, and undertake a comprehensive analysis of all games played, in order to protect players with exceptional performances from accusations of unfair play.

Our process has concluded that he is highly likely to have received computer assistance during one or more of your games.

Consequently,
We have to make painful decision to have his results expunged from this event (His opponents have been given wins) and he is prohibited from playing any further games in this event to protect integrity of this event.

As per the event regulations, this decision is final and no appeal against it can be made.

We understand that players make poor decisions during times of stress and we would welcome an admission of wrong-doing, ideally with an apology and a pledge not to repeat this behaviour.

Any such admission will remain 100% confidential, and support our efforts to build an environment of trust and enjoyment among all chess players.

It is easy to make a bad decision, but requires great courage and personal strength to accept responsibility for those mistakes

Kind regards,
Benard Wanjala
Tournament Coordinator

Given the serious nature of these allegations, and the swift action of the officials, I then sent some follow-up questions to Mr. Wanjala in an effort to clarify some of the issues. These are the questions I sent and the response thereafter:

Cosmos Chipepo: Good day Mr. Wanjala I’m Cosmos Chipepo for Africa Chess Media. I have a few follow up questions on your official statement.

  1. Was the player flagged by your system or was it a complaint by an opponent(s).
  2. Was there a response from the player himself to these allegations or from his Federation.
  3. Given that similar accusations were leveled against this same player last year December during the Schools tournament, what will be done by the ACC or any of the African bodies for oversight?
  4. Have you received any other cheating complaints or are there other players currently that are flagged and you are monitoring?
  5. Lastly are you happy with the outcome of your investigation into these allegations and the methodology employed to deal with this and any other future chance takers?

Thank you for your time.

President Wanjala casting his vote!
Image Courtesy: Jacinta Odongo

Bernard Wanjala: Greetings Sir,

We have a delicate balance between promoting fairness and sportsmanship. We have in the past received concerns about some players having challenges to share videos due to internet connection, opponents demanding to be awarded win. But we have to try as much as we can to establish if indeed player was seeking assistance when game were played during off camera by analysing his moves.

We have two tier extensive analysis of games to ascertain if any participant is using engine. Therefore, the player in question was identified from our analysis of his game, we have a reason to believe he used unfair means during one or more games.

The communication is clear, it was one way, he has an opportunity to come back to us or at least apologize or simply ignore our communication.

The Algerian Chess Federation in the spotlight!

This is obviously still a developing story and the player and/or his Federation is/are yet to respond to these allegations even though the organizers have made the first move 1. e4, and their position is clear. We are yet to see whether the response will be straight resignation, a defense or the accused will choose not to play.

Play Platform Tornelo

Play platform and organizing partner for the tournament, Tornelo, also have a page on their definition, stance, methodology and mechanism, by which they intend to deal with assistance in games played on their platform, as can be seen here. However, like chess.com and other major playing platforms, they understandably do not want to reveal the exact mechanism behind their method, lest the cheaters and potential cheaters get an idea of what they’re dealing with and devise methods to work around such mechanisms. If you are interested in such topics here is a link on the very first experience Tornelo had with online cheating.

Consequently, seeing how both the African Chess Confederation organizers and Tornelo have nipped this in the bud, is it safe to say they are working really hard to provide a safe environment for Africans to play on?

8 comments

  1. Why can’t the decision by the arbiters be challenged? And was the player given the right to plead his case? Last but definitely not least, was the player caught red handed using an engine or his just suspected?

  2. Thanks for your comment, I’m also interested in many aspects of this case but hopefully we will get more clarity in due course from the organizers. The appeal types were classified at the beginning of this tournament as Fair Play and non Fair Play related where Fair Play matters were deemed final, absolute and not open to being challenged. I doubt that the player was caught red handed otherwise they would have mentioned it.

  3. Not the only case so far !
    A player from the open tournament was removed from the tournament for same reason!
    Big problem is the tiebreak of the tournament is Bucholz which is your opponent points,and playing a cheater simply kills your tiebreak because you get 0 points from playing him !! And that is simply so unfair in my opinion..
    So that means big mistake in deciding the tiebreak system for the tournament..knowing such cases would happen no matter how hard we try to stop it !

    • If a player is caught cheating and eliminated, that is neither the fault of the arbiters nor the other players in the tournament who were not paired against the cheater. There is nothing realisically the organisers can do apart from from award a full point to their opponents. This is not “unfair”, but an unfortunate consequence of the situation. The tie-break system needs to be simple and clear, not riddled with complex caveats for rare occurences.

  4. […] On another note, as it is, sadly, highly expected at online tournaments, Beghriche Rami Tedjeddine, who started in the Open U20 was eliminated from the tournament because he was suspected to get assistance. This, as well as a dubious rule called ‘Fair Play methodology’ under which the player cannot appeal against the arbiter’s decision was reported in the Africa Chess Media. […]

  5. I’m sure the organisers do not take these decisions lightly, and am willing to accept that the procedures in place are robust, but I have a genuine concern: Players sometimes play far above or far below their “average” level. How do the automated systems tell the difference between an inspired performance and cheating?

  6. Those who were removed from the online african championship, can again play online games such as the Arab African tournament ?

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