Eyewitness on catching a chess cheater red-handed

Patrycja Waszczuk’s 2-year ban for cheating was based on
multiple pieces of evidence, but the strongest – and where it all began – was that
another Polish player, Katarzyna Dwilewicz, caught Patrycja using a mobile
phone in the toilet during Round 4 of the Ustroń Chess Festival. The Polish
Chess Federation stressed that the mere possession of the phone in the toilet
would have been enough for a ban, but in an exclusive interview Katarzyna
reveals that she found Patrycja using chess software to analyse her game. The chess community has been rocked by the case of Patrycja
Waszczuk. The 17-year-old Women’s FIDE Master looked to be a great hope of
Polish chess. In 2019 she won the U16 European Girls Championship, earlier this
year she won the U18 Polish Girls Championship and this year she was the
youngest player in the overall Polish Women’s Championship. Her career now lies
in ruins, however, after she was banned from playing for two years after being
found guilty of “electronic doping”, using chess computer software to cheat
while playing.

In our
report on the scandal
we quoted from a recently published resolution of the
Polish Chess Federation’s Commission for Awards and Discipline, which included
the finding, “[Patrycja] used a telephone in the toilet, which was confirmed by
the report of eyewitness Ms …”. That eyewitness, whose name was blacked out, is
21-year-old Women’s FIDE Master Katarzyna Dwilewicz, who agreed to talk to chess24
about what she saw.       

Patrycja’s father
talked about a “conspiracy by two of his daughter’s direct rivals”. Have you
ever played her?

Katarzyna Dwilewicz: No, I’ve never played a game against her. In
fact the Ustroń Open was the first time we’d ever met, as we hadn’t even played
at the same tournament before.

Did you have
suspicions about Patrycja during the first three rounds? Were players talking
about her?

Yes. Her going out to the bathroom more than a dozen times a
game was really distracting, especially having heard about all the earlier

What happened during Round 4?

I was playing a game against Anna Kubicka. I played a move and then I saw
Patrycja get up from the board (she was playing close to us). When she left the
playing venue, I waited 30 seconds and went to follow her. In the bathroom
there were three toilets. She went to the one on the left (the middle one had a
little gap at the side of the door and the right one had a window with a view
of the backyard). There was no-one else there.

I went to the middle one and silently started to stand up on
the toilet seat. My heart was beating so fast when I was climbing on the
toilet! I was all shaking. Finally, when I climbed up high enough, I looked
down. I saw her sitting down. She was using a phone and I am sure of what I
saw. I saw clearly the phone screen. It was exactly the same position she had
had on the board a while ago. She was checking variations from a chess program.

Patrycja didn’t notice me. She had no idea I was watching
her. Then I hid and waited until she went away and I immediately went to the
arbiters. I reported what I saw to them. It all happened in 4-5 minutes.

Did you see what happened next?

We finished our game. We were still at the playing venue, and
at some point I went out for a few minutes to make a call. When I came back,
Anna Kubicka told me that she had seen Patrycja trying to get rid of her phone.
Then Patrycja finished her game. The arbiters asked her to go for a search and I
was with them all the time. She started to get nervous and tried to leave the
playing venue, saying, “I need to go to my grandma for a moment”. Of course we
didn’t let her go. Then she refused to be searched. She didn’t want to show her
bag and she admitted twice that she had a second phone.

Did you hear Patrycja
say anything about a power bank in her bag?

No, she didn’t say a single word about that and only
admitted to having a second phone. I heard that it was only a few hours later
that her father sent an email mentioning a power bank.

Did you
have to give evidence before the Commission?

I spoke with
the arbiters and also frequently with the management of the Polish Chess
Federation. I made a statement too. When she sends an appeal I will have to
give evidence to the Disciplinary Commission.

Have you
had any contact with Patrycja or her father since?

I haven’t had
any contact with them. Patrycja creates fake accounts and defends herself under
Polish posts about the verdict and other articles about her. She insulted me
and other people involved in the situation in comments. I’ve also received a
private message from one of her fake accounts, where she threatened me.

What was
the general reaction of the chess community?

After the situation happened I received a lot of
very nice calls and messages. People congratulated me on catching her and some
of them called me a “hero”. It’s fun to be called a “crown witness” too!

Patrycja Waszczuk’s father has vowed to appeal, while for now the ban only strictly applies in Poland. FIDE Vice
President Łukasz Turlej told chess24 what is likely to happen next.

When requested by a Member Federation, the Ethics
and Disciplinary Commission will attribute general validity in FIDE to national
decisions on violations of FIDE Ethics and Disciplinary Code, if adequately
motivated and decided in compliance with the fundamental principles of law and
fair trial.

There’s also an option for the FIDE Fair Play
Commission to apply independently to the Ethics Commission, in which case the punishment
could be increased or reduced, though Łukasz explained that the ban follows
FIDE guidelines for minors.

He summed up:

We expect that the necessary legal procedures
within FIDE will begin within the next two weeks and will be completed within a
reasonable time. Of course, if a player takes part in a tournament, this will
be taken into account when deciding on the start date of disqualification (if
she is found guilty).

We’ll keep you updated on any new developments.


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