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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bowel Problems and Cell Phones

      German GM Falko Bindrich was forfeited for refusing to allow the arbiter to examine the phone he had with him during multiple toilet visits during a recent Bundesliga round. The rules permit the arbiter to check in case of justified suspicion. Bindrich had a smart phone with him while visiting the toilet and when confronted, refused to show it to the arbiter, as is mandated by the tournament rules.
      According to his statement Bindrich was apparently plagued with gastro-intestinal distress which caused him to have to hit the porcelain pretty hard during his game and complained he was singled out from among the other contestants for being the leading “toilet-goer.”
       It’s important to emphasize he was not disqualified because of cell phone fraud, but because of his refusal to allow his phone to be inspected.  Bindrich’s reasons for refusal to allow inspection seem rather flimsy, though.  The reasons he gave were: 1) he saw an inspection as an invasion of his privacy. 2) the phone contained “very private pictures and messages.” 3) it contained sensitive business data which he needed to protect. 4) releasing this sensitive business data would cost him his job and important relationships. Bindrich admitted he does have a chess app on his phone, but as per the rules, his phone was always switched off.
       He added, “from a human perspective, how far have we come? Stalking and spying, eavesdropping on the toilet. The referee listened for my bowel movement, and Sebastian Siebrecht even lay down on the toilet floor.”
       I’m not sure what to make of all this.  If his game against his opponent did not show up on the chess app, then there would have been no problem.  All he had to do was turn the thing on and show the arbiter his chess app…problem solved. In any case, Bindrich knew the rules going in…if you have a cell phone it is subject to inspection and if he felt that strongly about protecting his privacy then he should not have been carrying it in the tournament room. 
       I have to wonder about the pictures.  I have pictures on my cell phone, too.  Let’s see, there are photos of my nephew at a school function, my cat and a raccoon that wandered into the backyard.  Nothing so private they would be embarrassing.
       As to sensitive business data, was the arbiter even remotely interested in industrial espionage? Would he know what he was looking at if he saw it? Would he be able to remember it all or, for that matter, even know who such sensitive business data should be delivered to in order to make a profit or get Bindrich fired?
       Seriously, I doubt the arbiter had any intentions of performing a sophisticated and thorough examination of Bindrich’s cell phone. It was more a matter of, “Just turn the thing on and show me the chess app.  If your current game isn’t in it, then it’s no problem.” Bindrich was rightly disqualified because he refused to hand over his phone to the arbiter and so contravened the rules of the event. His refusal, of course, is not proof of illegal use. What it comes down to is that the arbiter had what is known in the US as probable cause and Bindrich, who knew the rules, was obligated to comply with the request. Now I am wondering if his games from the event will be subjected to computer analysis and if they are, what will the findings be.
       If Bindrich did not want to leave his cell phone in his hotel room, a simple solution would have been take an Imodium and avoid all those trips to the toilet.

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