Chess BoardAt the European Women’s Chess Championship WGM Mihaela Sandu (2300) of Romania pulled in to an unexpected early lead with five straight victories. She lost in the sixth round, which due to technical difficulties was not broadcast live over the internet, and then won again in the seventh when the broadcast was restored. Some of the other players became concerned about possible cheating and 32 posted to a bulletin board two letters asking tournament organizers to institute a 15 minute delay in the transmissions. The organizers assented “to avoid any suspicion of cheating,” after which Ms. Sandu lost her remaining four games and ended up in 26th place.

No specific evidence, however, was brought forth to show that Ms. Sandu cheated. The Romanian Chess Federation pushed the organizers to follow FIDE procedures regarding false accusations, pointing out the stress that the bulletin board letters caused for their teammate. And Mihaela Sandu herself published a letter of response to what she described as “a very dirty attack, permanently damaging my name in the chess world” and causing “enormous psychological pressure” during the games.

Ms. Sandu’s letter also called out GM Natalia Zhukova (2456) of Ukraine for instigating the attack, describing her as the “main benefactor” and her actions as “paltry behaviour.” It was, in fact, Zhukova who was Sandu’s opponent in the eighth round. Zhukova not only won that game but went on to win the tournament.

By the tenth round, two player who signed the original complaint asked to have their names withdrawn.