Allegations of cheating against blind player

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  • Allegations of cheating against blind player

    Allegations of cheating against blind player

    January 6, 2016


    A Norwegian chess player, Stein Tholo Bjornsen (50), who is legally blind, has played 66 tournament games in the past year without a loss and become something of a celebrity.

    Unnamed sources accuse him of cheating. Each believes Bjornsen "play like a machine."

    - No one can play like a computer. Not even Magnus Carlsen. While Carlsen has an average of 87 percent correlation with the best moves of the chess computer "Houdini". Bjornsen had 96 percent correlation with "Rybka 4" in in his games."I mean it is proof in itself," says chess coach and journalist Ole Valaker VG. He trains 11 year old Afras Mansoor, who lost to Bjornsen in the TV 2 Chess International.

    Bjornsen rejected all allegations of cheating to VG when allegations surfaced Tuesday. Bjornsen who is virtually blind in both eyes, plays with a small speaker plug in his ear.

    - I have not done anything wrong. The judges were 20 centimeters from me at all times in all games, and the recorder I use was checked during the tournament. The charges, in addition, are from people who were not present during the tournament, the 50-year-old said.

    The Norwegian Chess Federation takes the allegations seriously. At the next board meeting, on 3 February, the matter will be taken up. Stein Tholo Bjornsen has been asked to submit a written explanation. In addition, the collected expertise of the International Chess Federation will be used in considering the verdict. An independent person will make use of computer programs approved by FIDE to analyze Norwegian's games.

    Does he fear the data review with FIDE-approved equipment?

    - No not at all. I do perhaps make some unusual moves because I play different. I played lines that were good for me and they turned out to be ingenious. has been in contact with an elite player who has analyzed Bjornsen's games. During his nine games and a total of 298 moves, he has not made a single mistake of significance, he writes on his site.

    Bjornsen's games have also been submitted to Israeli grandmaster, Arthur Kogan. He has been involved in the fight against cheating in chess sport, and says the following:

    - I would also add that it is very suspicious that a player at the 2000 level plays like a grandmaster with an absolutely perfect game in the critical phases, so this is a matter that will be discussed carefully.

    Bjornsen denies any network access.

    Since he is blind, Bjornsen has an assistant who plays for him the moves he chooses. In addition, he has a little mini board he controls with one hand, to feel the disposition of the men.

    Bjornsen also brings a dictaphone to the side of the board. This is connected to a small speaker stopper he has one ear.

    Since players can view their written moves, Bjornsen records their moves - and then rewinds and listens to them again during their games.

    - It is my listing tool. I go through the moves when I need to. And I have been allowed this in accordance with the FIDE rules, he said.

    Has the small speaker Bluetooth or any other network connection?

    - No, no. The recorder is probably ten years old, the earpiece is maybe a couple of years old. I can not imagine what they think I should have done. I can play naked or in shorts. They can give me a new voice recorder, if they so wish. All my equipment has been checked 100 times.

    Tournament Organizer Hans Olav Lahlum, told

    - We implemented some security checks before the final round. In the tests we did, we found no evidence of cheating of any kind.

    Bjornsen is completely blind in one eye, with the second he sees only a little light. As a little boy he was out sledding, when on the way down the hill, he came too close to a tree and got a knot on the eye. It caused a lot of damage and he, despite a six-month hospital stay, never got back his sight.

    But the sad situation got worse for Bjornsen. Soon afterwards, he was outside playing with a buddy. It was summer, and his friends played bow and arrow. Bjornsen's comrade shot an arrow into the sky, and both were standing and looking up to see where it went.

    The arrow was hard to spot, but suddenly falling down again - it hit the unfortunate boy in the middle of the healthy eye.

    Doctors were unable to save the sight in this eye either, thus Bjornsen was left with only dim vision in one.

    I thought I heard every accusation in chess that could be made about cheating but this one is really over the top!
    Last edited by Wayne Komer; Wednesday, 6th January, 2016, 05:59 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Allegations of cheating against blind player

    Allegations of cheating against blind player

    May 26, 2018

    Visually handicapped Stein Bjornsen received a two-year ban on domestic competition from the Central Board of the Norwegian Chess Federation (NSF) in April of 2016:

    "On the basis of the facts presented, the Central Board of the Norwegian Chess Federation views that it is beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a violation of FIDE’s Laws of Chess, paragraphs 11.3a and 11.3b, whereby Bjørnsen, by using a Bluetooth earphone, has received information either from a chess analysis program or by external assistance, and that this has taken place at least during the National Championship in 2015 and the TV2 Chess International 2015/2016.

    The man from Horten has also been forbidden from holding any official position in Norwegian chess, according to the federation verdict. Bjørnsen is currently deputy leader of Horten Chess Club.

    All of his games played between July 2015 and January 2016 will be adjudged lost, NSF President Bjørn Salvesen said in a press release. The NSF also reported that the verdict had been reported to International Chess Federation FIDE."

    For the whole story see:


    Two months after the ban expired, Bjornsen was caught cheating again and banned for life by the Norwegian Chess Federation

    “Blind Stein Bjørnsen (52) is excluded from the Norwegian Chess Federation and will no longer participate in chess tournaments on Norwegian soil. That settled Central Committee at a meeting on 23 May:

    1) It is considered proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the STB used by illegal electronic assistance during execution of portion 4 in Horten club matches . The submitted material leaves no doubt about this relationship.

    2) The board cannot find believable STB’s explanations about what happened during the 4th round of the club championship in Horten Chess Club.

    3) The Board of Directors assumes that the STB has used illegal means in all the games that he has played in 2018.”

    This is the game that he was winning against the 9-year old but was apparently awarded to her:

    Helliesen, Lyyke Merlot – Bjornsen, Stein
    Horten Championship
    Round 4, 20 March, 2018
    E38 Nimzo-Indian

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.Bg5 Bxf2+ 7.Kd2 Qb6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Nf3 Be3+ 10.Kd1 d6 11.Qd3 Bd7
    12.Ne4 Ke7 13.Qc3 e5 14.b3 Nc6 15.Qb2 1-0

    In the short video on this page, Stein appears to put his left hand up to his ear and there is a speaker in the palm of that hand.


    • #3
      Re: Allegations of cheating against blind player

      The game against the nine year old is pretty unremarkable and by itself (in the absence of electronic devices) would be a shaky framework to base a cheating accusation on. The kid blundered and he (and possibly the computer analyst) took advantage of it. I don't think a computer would be necessary to see the combination that wins a pawn.