More on the Chess Cheating Scandal

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The lead story on the radio nooze this morning was some celebrity Hollywood doofus and her husband could actually go to jail for doling out up to half a million bucks in bribes, to get their two dumb kids into a “prestige” university. What for, who knows?–so they can “learn” that “white people own time”? But the point is, these rich and famous people cheated.

I’ve been thinking about a much smaller cheating scandal–the cheat performed by the Henderson middle school in Texas, to win the U.S. Chess Federation’s national scholastic chess championship (

Most of the cheating in high-level chess is hi-tech, but any team can, like Henderson, resort to “sandbagging” ( Your team enters a bunch of low-level tournaments and throws all its games to weak opponents, to drive your rating down in time for the big important tournament that you really want to win. Your new crummy ratings insure easy match-ups and lots of cheap wins on your way to the title.

But the Henderson team got caught, and will be stripped of the championship.

Some questions remain to be answered.

Did the parents know their kids were cheating? Or suspect it, and say nothing?

When the USCF declared that the whole business was orchestrated by the coach, did the school fire him? Did school officials ever suspect there was cheating, but chose to look the other way?

If this had happened at the junior high school I went to in 1962, a) the coach would have been fired immediately, because the community would have angrily demanded it; and b) the principal would’ve been on the intercom toot-sweet, announcing that the chess team, having brought disgrace upon the school, was as of that moment disbanded.

How deep does this go? Cheat to get your kid into college. Cheat to win at chess. Then brag about it? Pretend the achievement was real, and brag about it?

America doesn’t need less Christianity in its schools.

It needs much, much more.

(I have asked my colleagues at, all of whom have more chess tournament experience than I do, to weigh in on this. I’ll pass on their opinions, if they offer them.)



About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

6 responses to “More on the Chess Cheating Scandal

  • unknowable2

    It astounds me that anyone would think it was a good idea to cheat. Some of these people have really abandoned decency.

    • leeduigon

      I saw on my “clicks” list “unknowable2,” so I clicked it and got a picture of mountains with the legend “Unknowable Take II, Something Awesome is Coming.” Are you starting a new blog?

    • leeduigon

      One day, subbing in a middle school for a teacher who had an in-school workshop that day, I caught a couple of kids cheating on a quiz. Their plea was, “It’s OK, she lets us cheat. Honest, you can ask her.” So I did. And she said, “Yeah, I let them cheat. It’s easier that way.”

      That was back in the 90s. They have labored on it ever since.

  • weavingword

    I have seen lots of “cheating” like this in my daughter’s sport over the years. Coaches fixing brackets in their favor, or lying about their athletes’ ages or belt ranks. Refs favoring athletes from their own schools and not making objective calls. Athletes doing crazy, unhealthy things to drop to unnatural weights so they can “fight down”, then loading up on food to gain weight back once they’ve made the official weigh in.

    I’ve seen high level athletes (Olympic medalists even) fake an injury in the ring to try to get a penalty issued against their opponent. Have seen people cheat during the fight, counting on the ref not seeing or calling it.

    At the lower levels, some purposely sign up for tournaments where they won’t have an opponent then brag online about “winning gold”. My daughter always hated getting medals for nothing when she ended up not having a fight. We used to have to confiscate them or she’d try to throw them away, “forget” them at the hotel, or give them to her little sister. We never touted them, but they still served as a record of places she’d been, so they were keepsakes.

    Parents, athletes, and coaches seem to lose all sense of honor and common sense with the lure of winning or being nationally ranked. It’s sad. Really makes you wonder what the point of competing is sometimes. You lose faith that “the best” are ranked as such because they’ve earned it, rather than because they were able and willing to game the system in their favor. Some of this stuff has a tragic end, too. Last year an athlete died at a major tournament. Had a heart attack resulting from the way he’d been cutting weight.

  • thewhiterabbit2016

    When I was asked to join the bowling team where I worked, my team members told me to bowl lousy the first two weeks so I would get a big handicap. Well, I hadn’t bowled in so long before this I bowled lousy even though I was trying to bowl my best. At our University of Arkansas at Fort Smith where I am an alumni, if you get caught cheating you are automatically expelled no matter who you are.

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