An unknown Italian chess player who defeated a number of top players has been thrown out of a world class competition after being caught cheating, local media reported Monday.
The Turin-based La Stampa newspaper said Arcangelo Ricciardi used spyware and Morse code to pass information to an expert accomplice and receive advice.
"In 40 years, I have never seen anything quite like this," Jean Coqueraut, an international chess referee, said.
Ricciardi was expelled from the Imperia International Chess Festival on the Italian Riviera after the device he used to film matches was discovered. The tiny camera was linked to his accomplice who suggested moves, allowing him to defeat experienced opponents.
Although ranked 51,366th in the world, Ricciardi reached the eighth and penultimate round of the tournament before he was discovered.
"He was doing it under our noses," Coqueraut told the newspaper. "I couldn't sleep that night. I had to stop him.
"In chess, performances of this type are impossible. There was no way that he could be a genius. He had to be a cheat."
Coqueraut said the fact that Ricciardi stayed seated over hours of play, his constantly crossed arms and his unusual eye movement led him to solve the mystery.
"He fluttered his eyes in an unusual manner, as if he was not concentrating on the chessboard, but rather lost in another thought. Then, it hit me – he was decoding the signals in Morse code."
The first time Coqueraut tried to unmask Ricciardi proved unsuccessful. "I asked him to empty his pockets," he said. "Nothing. Then, I asked him to open his shirt but he refused, threatening to press charges."
Eventually, tournament organizers resorted to using a metal detector to uncover the cheat.