Chess king captured: Champion admits to using smartphone on the toilet to cheat

"I simply lost my mind," the Czech champion, Igors Rausis, told Chess.com
Chess Tournament "Right Alsterufer vs. Left Alsterufer"
The chess world was shocked when Igors Rausis, 58, who had quickly risen in the rankings in the last six years, was accused of cheating at a recent tournament in France.Felix Konig / dpa via Getty Images

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By Ben Kesslen

A chess grandmaster admitted to cheating after a photo surfaced of what appeared to be him using his phone on the toilet to help him win during a tournament.

Igors Rausis, 58, was known in the chess world for having climbed the rankings in the past six years, something unusual for a sport typically dominated by younger players. The Czech champ’s meteoric rise excited many fans of the sport, who found themselves shocked on Thursday when Rausis was caught cheating.

During a tournament in Strasbourg, France, someone took a picture, obtained by The Telegraph, of what looked like Rausis sitting on the toilet, fully clothed, using his phone during the competition.

The picture rocked the competitive chess word, which prides itself as a “gentleman’s sport.”

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The World Chess Federation (FIDE) told NBC News via email there was an “incident” in Strasbourg and “a player has signed a letter admitting his wrongdoing,” but wouldn’t further comment on specifics of what happened.

No matter, Rausis, who NBC News could not reach for comment, came clean to Chess.com, saying, “I simply lost my mind.”

“I confirmed the fact of using my phone during the game by written [statement].” he said, adding, “What could I say more?”

Rausis later told the The Times of London he was using a chess software on his phone in the bathroom.

FIDE told NBC News that they recently approved more severe punishments for cheating. Rausis could face a five-year ban and loss of his grandmaster title.

While FIDE isn’t officially making a statement on the case, some of their staff have taken to social media to discuss the controversy, and question Rausis' previous success.

On Thursday, FIDE’s Fair Play Commission Secretary Yuri Garret said on Facebook that the organization had been closely following a player for months, in what appears to be a reference to Rausis. And on Friday, Emil Sutovsky, director general of FIDE, wrote on Facebook about a “cheater”who rose to success in a “very suspicious” and “questionable” manner.

Rausis told Chess.com on Friday that his actions would mean an end to his competitive chess career.

“At least what I committed yesterday is a good lesson, not for me — I played my last game of chess already," he said.