You can’t cheat in chess. This is what many people believe, but it is far from true. There are people who cheat in chess, even at the professional level. There are many imaginative cheaters in this game too and one could wish, they canalised their imagination in another way.
Before we speak of serious cheating, we have to remember that there can be many involuntary cheats that are caused by the stress of the competition. Even strong players can castle even though it was forbidden just because they were so tired of the many hours of game that they weren’t aware of it. When the players have signed the scoresheets, it is too late to change anything.
The job of a chess arbiter can be really difficult when confronted to dishonest players. For example, what can be done when one player pretends that his opponent touched a piece and has to move it and the other player says he has not. In this case, if it was cheat, it will not be sanctioned because no one can prove anything.
It is easier to catch a cheater who, while his opponent is on a break, fiddles with his timer to get more time: His timer can be compared to other timers and the cheater can be caught.
One way to cheat is to illegally find information elsewhere when playing. To ask a friend: “What was the move to play against the sacrifice on b5 in the Svechnikov opening?” is forbidden but rarely sanctioned because it can be difficult to hear and especially to understand when the players are speaking in an unknown language.
The cheat that is used most often is when two dishonest players agree on a result: They know that a draw won’t be a good idea, so they agree upon who will win and who will lose. After the winner gets his price, they just share the money between them. This kind of cheat is almost impossible to disclose and is very unfair to other players.
Some players buy an International FIDE title. It is easier than you would think, if you have money enough. One of the most famous cases is Alexandru Crisan an international grandmaster from Rumania. He obtained his high Elo and title by playing against players in tournaments, he arranged himself. He didn’t play in any official tournament. The FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation) “recommended” that he played three official tournaments. Crisan only participated to one of them and could just score 0.5 points out of 9 possible. When his games were analysed, it was obvious to see that Crisan didn’t merit his Elo classification and his title. The committee that studied his case, led by the grandmaster Zurab Azmaiparashvili, recommended, on September 8th, 2001, that Crisan’s Elo should be pulled down to zero and that his title should be taken from him. As of today, this still hasn’t happened.