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Chess Cheating Hits New High?

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  • Chess Cheating Hits New High?

    Chess, the honorable game of kings, has had a markedly dark and diverse history of cheating. The most popular methods of cheating appear to be:

    1. A covert earpiece to receive transmissions from a distant accomplice who is using a supercomputer to suggest moves (ex. 2006 World Open, 2 players were disqualified)

    2. A strong player posing under a weak player’s name to cash in on an easier section (ex. 1993, John von Neumann at the World Open in Philadelphia)

    3. Classical Collusion: A weaker player leaving the board to receive advice from a stronger player (ex. 2002 World Open, 2 Russian players working together)

    4. Taking multiple trips to the bathroom to consult a PDA/chess engine (ex. Alleged and Unproven “Toiletgate” Scandal – 2006 World Championship Match between Topalov & Kramnik: in 1 game Kramnik went to the bathroom more than 50 times)

    5. Internet Chess – Cheating by using a computer program (ex. 2004, GM Arkadi Naiditsch)

    6. Cell phones – principally receiving texts from an accomplice using a computer (ex. 2010, select members of the French Olympiad team)

    So why do players Cheat in Chess?

    Historically there was not much money to be made by winning chess tournaments. However, since Bobby Fischer demanded legitimate prize funds in the mid 20th century to support professional players – tournament wins actually equate to significant prizes. And not just at the top level – The annual World Open in Philadelphia boasts a guaranteed total prize fund of $225,000 USD, with 1st place prizes per section ranging from 12k (U-1300) to 25k (Open section).

    Cheating happens at all levels, and counter-security measures and punishments need to be taken more seriously. As evidenced by the recent scandal involving 3 players from the French Olympiad team in Ukraine, 2010 – cheating may occur at the top level. One of the defendants in this case, Sebastien Feller, won the 2010 Paris Championship with an impressive 8/9 points and a whopping 2859 performance rating. How can organizers and participants be sure that he was not receiving assistance in this tournament as well?

    Preventive measures to counteract cheating in chess need to be given higher priority, and punishments need to be made more severe.


    Prevention
    It appears that the use of radio-frequency/cell phone jamming devices may be necessary at top-level tournaments and tournaments with large cash prizes (such as the World Open in Philadelphia) to prevent the incorrect use of cell phones and covert earpieces. Also, tournament directors need to be more attentive to leading players in later rounds at large prize tournaments, as these players could be receiving assistance via other methods.


    Crime & Punishment
    Apparently the severity of the current punishments for cheating is simply not high enough. The aforementioned French Olympiad players received something along the lines of a 3 year suspension to be followed by 2 years of community service for the French Chess Federation. 5 years is a good amount of time to figure out new ways to thwart the system and cheat your way to the top again. I propose a minimum 10 year ban on anyone caught cheating from their chess federation and FIDE. As this also might not be enough to deter cheating and some players might find it worth the risk in light of the huge cash prizes currently available at select tournaments – how about suggesting a criminal penalty? If a player successfully cheats and wins a prize of over $20,000 USD – he has successfully committed a fraudulent act. For example, for scam-artists caught cheating in tournaments with a single prize of over $5,000 dollars, is there some way to work with local governments to criminally charge Fraud to truly deter cheating? I understand this sounds a bit harsh, however the number of cheaters and scam-artists has certainly not gone down in recent years. There must be a better way to deter this type of nonsense, and apparently kicking players out of tournaments and banning them from local chess organizations is simply not enough.

    William Stewart - NM - Chess Lessons, Chess Videos, Chess Classes & more - William Stewart - Official Website.

  • #2
    Interesting to note that number of these occasions do not involve technology. If a 'blackout' how much would this inconvenience any medai coverage of competitions?
    I'm Neil Macdonald not Neil McDonald, I only wish I could play like him.

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    • #3
      Is there any endeavour that the love of money hasn't eventually corrupted?

      Obviously, these cheaters are more interested in personal aggrandizement than in chess. Doubtless they'd sell hot-dogs on a street-corner if they felt there was more money in it than chess. Or, cheat the casinos in Vegas if they believed they could do so without repercussion.

      Shunning the perpetrators in perpetuity should be the very least of the sanctions enacted. Symbolic slaps-on-the-wrist will ensure spreading of the disease.

      The seed now bearing bitter-fruit is the dark legacy bequeathed to chess by Bobby Fischer's profound lack of self-esteem.

      In a misguided attempt at acquiring "respectability", Bobby felt that by requiring large sums of money to play chess he'd be taken more seriously by those whom he believed viewed him mainly as an uncultured high school drop-out.

      Because of the brilliance of his chess, his demands were acquiesced to and a new standard of reward was normalized.

      This feeding of an mal-nourished ego became more important than chess itself to him. I'm convinced of Bobby's true love for the game in his earlier years, but am coming to suspect that his initially sincere love of the game was later far overshadowed by the necessity of using the game as a vehicle for ego-compensation in support of an already fragile psyche.

      Now we get to deal with the down-side of the "new normal" which Fischer was instrumental in creating--mad efforts to secure ever-larger financial backing for tournaments, cheating and an increasing tendency towards 1950's B-rated Hollywood production values glammed up with high-tech in the coverage of games and in the awards ceremonies.

      A downside which will go a long way towards destroying the good name of chess.

      Enjoy the show as organized chess devolves into rigged carnival games and Mexican wrestling. Just another-roadside-attraction scrambling for a share of the market.

      Which is what will inevitably happen if the love-of-money is allowed to outweigh the love-of-chess on the part of certain players and organizers.
      Last edited by Celadonite; 05-03-2011, 09:29 PM.
      "They work at the pace of amnesia."--M. Bloch

      Comment


      • #4
        Amazing topic, and one that I'm very passionate about. I started to type a response, and it got so big I decided to make a blog post out of it. Feel free to continue the discussion here, but I didn't want to post a reply that was so long. Cheers!

        Derek's Chess Thoughts: Chess and Cheating
        Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

        An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

        My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

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        • #5
          Electronic Blackout Inhibiting Media Coverage

          Originally posted by Neil_Macd View Post
          Interesting to note that number of these occasions do not involve technology. If a 'blackout' how much would this inconvenience any medai coverage of competitions?
          maybe a blackout could be used at huge tournaments like the world open - and more attentive and stringent security measures at top-level play (ex Olympiad) where there are much fewer chess players/games to monitor

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Skwerly View Post
            Amazing topic, and one that I'm very passionate about. I started to type a response, and it got so big I decided to make a blog post out of it. Feel free to continue the discussion here, but I didn't want to post a reply that was so long. Cheers!

            Derek's Chess Thoughts: Chess and Cheating
            A good read mate, thanks
            "The most significant contribution to civilization since the invention of the wheel" – Irving Chernev, on castling.

            Comment


            • #7
              Cheating at chess and other sports has been going on for years and years. Nothing new.
              A recent issue of Chess Life indicated that one online Chess tournament for a World Championship, threw in the towel and allowed silicon helpers.
              And there are other examples:
              Josh Waitzken hinted in his books that one of his opponents was cheating.
              Before the computer age, in the 1920's or earlier (Postal Chess) F. J. Marshall at his club was asked by a player for a move. Then the opponent asked Marshall for a move.
              The game may have turned into Marshall against Marshall.
              In American sports, baseball and football accusations of cheating have been indicated. (Philadelphia Phillies, New Engliand Patriots). Just two examples out of many.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Skwerly View Post
                Amazing topic, and one that I'm very passionate about. I started to type a response, and it got so big I decided to make a blog post out of it. Feel free to continue the discussion here, but I didn't want to post a reply that was so long. Cheers!

                Derek's Chess Thoughts: Chess and Cheating
                Important blog-entry, Skwerly--I would hope it becomes an "internet classic", truly!

                This section from your blog was so beautiful and expressive of love and respect for chess that I had to post it here:

                "I feel very strongly about cheating and chess. I loathe a cheater, and will never do so myself. Never have I, and never will I, cheat in a game of chess. You might find me with an ace up my sleeve at a family poker game, for kicks and giggles, but I’ll never shortchange the most beautiful game to ever grace the rock we call Earth."
                "They work at the pace of amnesia."--M. Bloch

                Comment


                • #9
                  You forgot to mention another important sign of online cheating: a cheater always play at the same speed, whether it is a simple recapture of a queen or a complex middlegame.

                  Why do people cheat?
                  The bigger the ELO, the bigger the Ego
                  Last edited by Sammy39337; 05-04-2011, 03:16 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I object to the inclusion of Kramnik and toiletgate in these instances of cheating even if it is properly noted that the cheating is only alleged. Some people have medical conditions and take medications that cause the patient to require frequent urination. Apparently this is the case with Kramnik who has an arthritic condition.

                    I have diabetes which sometimes leads to the need to visit the bathroom several times a game. It used to be worse when I was taking a pill that worked to counteract water retention. Lately it hasn't been as much of a problem but it is hit or miss. Some days it is a problem and some days it is not.

                    I don't own a cell phone so there is no opportunity for cheating from these frequent pit stops though as I said it has not been as much of a problem lately.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Celadonite View Post
                      Important blog-entry, Skwerly--I would hope it becomes an "internet classic", truly!

                      This section from your blog was so beautiful and expressive of love and respect for chess that I had to post it here:

                      "I feel very strongly about cheating and chess. I loathe a cheater, and will never do so myself. Never have I, and never will I, cheat in a game of chess. You might find me with an ace up my sleeve at a family poker game, for kicks and giggles, but I’ll never shortchange the most beautiful game to ever grace the rock we call Earth."
                      Aww, thank you so much for the kind words, buddy! I'm truly humbled by them.
                      Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

                      An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

                      My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sammy39337 View Post
                        You forgot to mention another important sign of online cheating: a cheater always play at the same speed, whether it is a simple recapture of a queen or a complex middlegame.

                        Why do people cheat?
                        The bigger the ELO, the bigger the Ego
                        YUP, you are right! Move times is a big factor, especially in "forced" or very, very obvious moves. Good eye there, Sammy. I was on a coffee blast and not thinking correctly.
                        Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

                        An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

                        My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Not to Meant Knock Kramnik

                          [QUOTE=Crash;56385]I object to the inclusion of Kramnik and toiletgate in these instances of cheating even if it is properly noted that the cheating is only alleged. Some people have medical conditions and take medications that cause the patient to require frequent urination. Apparently this is the case with Kramnik who has an arthritic condition.


                          I didn't mean to knock Kramnik there, as i tried to make it clear that this charge was completely "Alleged" and unproven. I simply wanted to use this as an example of possible facets through which players can cheat, and this was a very popular/well-known case. Obviously the solution to this problem is not going to be easy, as there are so many extenuating circumstances and obstacles to the most obvious solutions that would be easy to apply and enforce.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            well the toiletgate scandal was simply a reference to how out of control the cheating allegations have become, but i thought it might be misconstrued that i was proposing Kramnik actually did it. however, i wanted to include it in the post because it is definitely a very common and easy way for players to cheat - whether using a PDA or consulting with an accomplice

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You know what is scary now is all the phone apps they have running around. Sure, a chess program that goes on a silly phone might not be that strong, but it is likely better than 1400 haha. I hear that Fritz and some of the biggies are getting apps, as well. All chess needs is a bunch of folks running around with Shredder on their iPhone...
                              Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

                              An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

                              My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

                              Comment

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