Italian Politician Accused in Chess Cheating Scandal

Former mayor Loris Cereda has the doubtful honor of becoming the first person to be kicked out of the Italian Chess Federation.

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Streeter Lecka / Getty Images for DAGOC

The chess pieces on the board before the start of the Men's and Women's Rapid Chess Individual during the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 at the Khalifa Tennis & Squash Complex on December 2, 2006 in Doha, Qatar.

Two years ago, Loris Cereda, then the mayor of a town called Buccinasco near Milan, Italy, was caught on video allegedly taking a €10,000 ($13,570) bribe for the awarding of a public contract for a shopping mall. But now he’s allegedly involved in an even more sordid scandal: Cereda has reportedly become the first person to be kicked out of the Italian Chess Federation.

During recent league games, according to his accusers, Cereda began to exhibit a maturity and savviness more associated with a Grand Master of the game rather than the usual standards of his play. What’s more, his startling performances only seemed to happen while he was wearing a pair of dark glasses.

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The Federation has alleged, following complaints by other players, thatCereda’s glasses concealed a small camera, as well as an earpiece that connected him to somebody with a chess computer (Cereda denies the accusations).

Cereda, who is a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party (PDL) and currently faces trial for the alleged bribery of 2011, told La Gazzetta dello Sport that “I’ve never cheated nor used strange technology during the matches,” and “there are some tournaments in which I played well but many others which went badly. Nearly all the tournaments are played in the presence of a referee and a fair number of spectators. I’ve never been less than a good sport –and as someone who loves this sport, I could not do, or even imagine doing, such a thing.”

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Rosa Palone, the president of Buccinasco’s town council, discussed both the allegations of bribery and cheating with the Independent, telling the paper that “these things are scandalous, but people are no longer shocked by them.”