It’s no secret that the world of finance is brutal and cut-throat, but it turns out it’s cut-throat enough to need to cheat to beat an Indian legend in a charity match.
Chess.com, the premier website for hosting chess matches, has banned Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath’s account for cheating to beat grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand in a charity chess match. A series of matches had been organized between celebrities and Anand to raise money for Covid relief. But viewers were left stunned when Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath beat the former world champion.
Some reports had said that Nikhil Kamath was a former chess player, and had played at the state level, but for an amateur to beat a world-champion grandmaster is virtually unheard of. After his victory, people began questioning how he’d managed to beat Vishwanathan Anand.
Some people began wondering how Nikhil Kamath had managed to play with 99% accuracy, which means he played the best move 99% of the time as determined by computers. This was compounded when people discovered that he’d lost to a much lower-ranked player just days prior.
Soon there were whispers online that Nikhil Kamath had cheated, with some Twitter users comparing him to Australian captain Steve Smith, who’d rubbed sandpaper on a cricket ball to give his bowlers an advantage.
A few hours after the outrage, it became clear that Nikhil Kamath had indeed cheated. Chess.com, which had hosted the game, banned his account. “Closed: Fair Play,” the message from the website said. This account has been closed for violating our Fair Play Policy. These rules help keep chess fair for everyone,” the message read.
Chess.com had concluded that Nikhil Kamath’s moves showed that he had used the help of a computer to beat Anand, and then an online mob set up the Zerodha co-founder. Some people couldn’t believe that Kamath, who is India’s youngest billionaire, could stoop so low. “Nikhil Kamath really cheated against Vishy. How can you stoop so low!” wrote a Twitter user.
Others wondered why Kamath would need to cheat to beat a world champion.
Some Twitter users called his behaviour disgusting. “Outright disgusting and shameful by Zerodha founder Nikhil Kamath. Playing the former World champion Vishy Anand sir on a charity stream & using an engine to beat him and then hiding under the garb of “it was for fun.” Utterly disrespectful to Anand sir,” wrote a user.
Today morning, Nikhil Kamath put out an apology. He said that he had indeed used computers while playing the game, but claimed it was for “fun” and “charity”. In his apology, he also managed to misspell Vishwanathan Anand’s name as “Vishwanath” Anand.
But people weren’t buying it. Some users wondered if his ethics also carried over to his company, Zerodha. “The Zero in Zerodha stands for the integrity and genuineness of Mr. Nikhil Kamath,” wrote a Twitter user, and said that they wouldn’t use his app.
Others used stronger language.
At this point, Vishwanathan Anand himself spoke up. He hinted that he wasn’t in the know that the people he was playing with would be using computers to cheat. “Yesterday was a celebrity simul for people to raise money It was a fun experience upholding the ethics of the game. I just played the position on the board and expected the same from everyone,” he tweeted.
It’s a bit of a takedown, and Vishwanathan Anand has said that he hadn’t expected Nikhil Kamath to cheat to beat him. Kamath had last been in the news for becoming India’s highest paid executive, but with him now admitting to having cheated to beat an Indian legend in a charity match, it seems that no amount of money — not even a Rs. 100 crore salary — can really buy class.