DIY website lays down steps to make a chess cheating tool

It can be undetectable if you know where to put it.
Ameya Paleja
DIY tool that could help cheat in chess
DIY tool that could help cheat in chess


Adafruit, the website popularly known for instructions for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects and the components needed to get them done, seems to have taken it upon itself to probe into the cheating scandal that has rocked the chess world. The website now has an entire project dedicated to building a plausible cheating tool, along with details on how to program it as well.

In case you have been living under a rock for the past month or simply do not know anything about the world of chess, here's a brief context. After losing a game at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, World Chess Champion abruptly quit the tournament after turning suspicious that his opponent, American grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann, had cheated.

While Carlsen did not publicly state this at the time, the duo met again at an online game, and the World No. 1 quit the game after making just one move. In a public statement that followed, Carlsen accused Niemann of cheating on multiple occasions, something the online chess portal,, has also reiterated in an internal report, Wall Street Journal reported.

Cheating in chess

Cheating at elite levels in chess usually involves the use of chess engines that can suggest the best moves to tilt the favor of the game against even the top players of the game. While carrying a cell phone or computing device is not allowed during such games, speculation is rife that players might be using means of communicating wirelessly with someone outside the game to cheat.

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The mode of communication is suspected to be vibrating anal beads. This might seem a bit far-fetched and difficult mode to convey moves in a complex game like chess. However, a combination of learning Morse Code and the ease with which a cheating device like this can be put together makes it a plausible way to cheat. As Gizmodo pointed out, learning Morse Code would definitely be an easier way to win than mastering the game of chess.

Making your own cheating device

According to Adafruit's webpage, a device like this needs just a handful of parts, such as a microcontroller chip with Wi-Fi connectivity, a haptic motor controller, a vibrating motor disc, a 400mAh Lithium-ion battery, a few cables, a soldering iron, and a soda bottle preform. Put together, and the project components would not cost more than $50 and still deliver a concealed cheating device.

The electronic components simply need to be soldered together as per the circuit diagram on the website and put together inside the soda bottle preform. These water-proof containers are near indestructible before they are heated and molded into soda bottles and can be used to conceal the electronics.

The website also provides line-by-line instructions on how to code the microcontroller and use the vibrator motor to communicate messages in Morse code. Adafruit goes a step further and demonstrates the smooth functioning of its project in a pork butt.

To give a sense of how easy it is to use the device, the pork butt with the cheating device was located about 30 feet (9 m) away and two walls away from the Wi-Fi access point. The vibration of the motor could be toned down a notch to make it a bit subtle so as to not alert other players or officials.

The device definitely is crude, but with a few attempts, it could be further refined, making it a plausible tool whether something like this is actually being used for formal investigations to tell us.

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