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Chess: The Game of Cheats?

[Blog History]

 

   Over the last few years, cheating in the chess world has grown exponentially. Like some monstrous “lifeform,” no one seems to know how to stop it. Can they? Will they?

  

   It came to the forefront during the 2010 Chess Olympiad when 3 french players were accused of cheating. For those who don’t know what resulted from that cheating scandal, this summary will fill you in.

 

   But the French are not the only ones with this problem. Since the 2010 scandal, cheating in chess has been popping up, in interviews, faster than Yankee Stadium popcorn. Articles have been written about cheating in Croatia, Italy, and even the famed Bundesliga was ripped by scandal. In the Dubai Open, won by Wesley So back in 2008, a player from Iran was accused of cheating when SMS messages were sent to his phone! And most people know about Kramnik’s Toiletgate incident. There was also political backlash from that one.

  

   Considering this alarming trend, what should be done?  Should security scanners be set up at all competitive chess matches to reveal the players’ cell phones, tablets and other gizmos in order to confiscate them? Should tournament rules state that no electronics of any kind are permitted in playing halls, with “forfeit” as a penalty? What can kill such a menacing “virus” that continues to spread throughout this classic game?

 

   Some effort needs to take shape; steps need to be set in motion—and soon! There are very big tournaments coming up this year and I’m sure none of us wants to see the integrity of the competitions besmirched by cheaters. Unfortunately, to these few, winning or gaining a few more Elo rating points are more important than ethics and the game will suffer for it, just as in any other sport.

 

   It’s no different here on Chess.com, which is why they have a program to detect cheaters. You may agree, it’s more noticeable than ever. Chess.com has done well in “removing” many of them, but it’s safe to presume there are more out there. What’s unfortunate is, if a good player on the site plays higher than his rating in a game, that player can get trolled by an opponent for cheating, ultimately having Chess.com check the accused member’s playing. Individuals often come out clean, but others don’t.

 

   Do these unscrupulous people believe cheating isn’t wrong? Do they not care if they’re booted from the site? Probably not, figuring they’ll go somewhere else and do it again for as long as they get away with it. It puts a real damper on playing LIVE or turn-based chess, simply because you never know who is doing what on the other end. You must hope your opponents are trustworthy. Chess.com takes the issue of cheating very seriously, so we know we’re in good hands. And on the “Master” front, until FIDE or other national organizations put a stop to cheating in chess, I guess I’ll continue to have plenty of fodder for my blogs, if nothing else.

 

   Thanks for reading everyone and, please, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “cheating” pandemic! Just please keep your comments nice and respectful. Have a good night. Smile

 

   -Mark

Comments


  • 19 months ago

    guitarzan

    Technology has added new ways to cheat, no doubt. All electronic devices brought by players to a tournament need to be turned off and sequestered away from the playing area. A 'zero tolerance' policy should be adopted. Anyone caught cheating gets banned forever, period. The cheater, in his/her mind, is involved in a risk vs. reward debate. Simply make taking the risk completely not worth it.

  • 19 months ago

    bulletheadbilly

    I Don't Think Calling a Person A "Coward" Is Simplistic in The Least. It's a Word That Somewhat Demands A Response. Way out West Here, It's A Word That Has Caused Many a Street Fights and Worse. It Could Be Likened To Cornering A Dog, Or A Wounded Wild Animal. Another Word Used Similar To The "C" word, Is  "Chicken". I wonder if The Response they Have Gotten Two those 2 Words, Has Not Coined the Phrase, "Chicken Done Flew The Chicken Coup"......LOL

  • 19 months ago

    RookedOnChess

    It seems there's no escape from bullying, no matter where you go, right? :( I wish people could just play to play.

  • 19 months ago

    Newba

    I hate to see people cheating. Hate to see bare cheating on internet for stupid purposes, such as coins in some chess websites, publicity meanings, money on tournaments or things like that.

    A cheater is a loser from the very first thought he had of dirty winning.

  • 19 months ago

    Starfire777

    Cheating is ruining Chess, The reason I'm not a paying player(membership)is because of CHEATING!! I quit one tournament in Seattle area players and lost 100 points,I can't see paying and play cheaters.In another Chess site I was a 2100 player and in another Chess site I beat 12 players and lost one.Right now I am 1900 player, I'm playing now in one tourney in which a 1300!! player is beating me.I am planning to change chess site.Yell

  • 19 months ago

    wavesofdebris

    Cheating is the price of bringing computers and communications gear into tournaments.  We just need to decide, continue winking at increasingly widespread cheating, legalize it, or find a way to exclude the gear.

    Imagine people ten years ago frantically consulting their laptops during play!  Imagine people 20 years ago going into a phone booth every few moves!   We wouldn't have accepted for a minute that they're all just checking on their kids -- the temptation to cheat would have been too strong.  The ridiculousness level would have destroyed tournament chess.  

    Unfortunately--though we all love our devices--it's exactly the same deal today.  If we're going to continue holding non-computer-assisted tournaments, we must exclude computers from play!  That's almost a tautology.

    Now tactics -- How to keep mobile devices out?  It's a tough problem.  But  ... either we solve the problem, or we admit that it's insoluble and tournaments will be human + machine from now on.   That's the price of bringing computers and communications gear into tournaments. 

  • 19 months ago

    RookedOnChess

    @eufo - I did understand that you meant "we" collectively, and I have to say, I agree, only I see this in all factions of life, across the board. Cheating is simply one way of being unethical or immoral. It's a sorry world in that respect.

    @SheenTheSlayer - didn't know this info. The possibilities are even worse than probably most of us were aware! I do sincerely hope that the Masters, especially at the top level, keep it clean. It would be nice if there were "athletes" worth admiring for their fair play :)

  • 19 months ago

    indian_crown

    Cheating in live chess is just a waste of time.

  • 19 months ago

    et5555yang

    Looks like Kramnik just don't want to admit hes got diarreah.

  • 19 months ago

    UncleKolaYams

    I think that cheating in Chess.com games can really work against the cheater and backfire. I had a guy with a Queen's Gambit Accepted on the Black side who was clearly computer aided. When we reached a critical position after he made a truly outstanding move (which he did not recognize) for some reason he moved next without using his computer. At that point I was on complete trouble but his inaccuracy let me win the game. When I asked him how he could have played so well up to that point and then completely lose track of his game he made some feeble excuse about not seeing the game clearly on his cell phone! If you make computer moves you had better stick with them because you will be high and dry on your own! 

  • 19 months ago

    CM JamesColeman

    The problem with communicationa jamming devices is that they are illegal in some places (such as UK) so it's not a universal solution. I'd second the call for much stricter rules for OTB chess though. Time delays of at least 15 mins on game relays being broadcasted online should be standard, as well as any other measures to ensure fair play. Right now the paranoia is as big a problem as the problem itself.

  • 19 months ago

    SheenTheSlayer

    It's too bad I wasn't born in the 40's.

    Even bullet games have cheaters nowadays, using specially designed programs that make moves semi-automatically.

    And I watched a video by Valeri Lilov and he thought that mini-microphones (which is installed into and removed from your ear by a special doctor) are becoming very popular and hard to detect. Coupled with a camera (which can be built into your glasses, your eye, hair, or even chewing gum), this allows you to have a friend send you suggestions from a PC running Fritz or Houdini. He suggests using a signal jammer in the vicinity of the tournament hall, to block people in the area from receiving telecommunications. This would be expensive and would also jam devices owned by auidence members, and although it's a good idea and undoubtedly an effective solution, it's unlikely to be put into practice.

    I find it upsetting though you have to play people over the board to know they're not cheating. I mean who's going to go through the trouble of having a doctor install a mini-microphone just to play you in a casual game? I don't think we have to worry about cheating OTB at the amateur level yet, but definitely like 3-10% of people online tend to cheat, which is very aggrevating. As others have said, it ruins the game. It's like a weightlifter trying to outlift one who uses anabolics. You're simply outpowered.

  • 19 months ago

    eufo

    @bulletheadbilly: I'm using "we" to describe our society as a collective.

  • 19 months ago

    bulletheadbilly

    @eufo ,,Who is we ? do you have a Mouse in your Pocket ?

  • 19 months ago

    eufo

    Our world rewards cheaters heavily provided they are not caught. Even if they are caught, often the punishment is so weak that it isn't a deterrent. This is the society we have constructed. We value money and achievements over honesty and morality. It should not be surprising that people cheat at chess like they do at everything else (poker, taxes, school, relationships, Tour de France, etc.)

  • 19 months ago

    NM Petrosianic

    you can find stupidity and corruption in every profession.  why should chess be different? Embarassed

    i think the running of most tournaments is fine, but when there is a problem player, isolate their game so to ensure they cannot receive outside assistance so easy.

  • 19 months ago

    RookedOnChess

    It's nice to hear that from an IM who actually competes in these tournaments :) Let's hear it for "stricter!" :)

  • 19 months ago

    abiogenesis23

    That Kramnik thing still irks me...I would never accuse someone of his skill of being a cheater, but there are still some suspicious aspects of what happened at that tournament.  It's just weird to me.  

  • 19 months ago

    IM Keaton87

    Very good article!  I agree 100% that tournament's need to become MUCH stricter with regards to stopping cheating.  The metal detectors and confiscation of phones during the round is a good idea, I also believe that players should not be allowed to leave the playing room during their games.

  • 19 months ago

    RookedOnChess

    You're so wonderfully supportive, bullet :)

    Also, I think putting the incident with Kramnik in just shows the aspects of cheating or being accused of it. We don't know his personal problems, but from reading about it, I honestly think he had need for the bathroom, and if he wanted privacy, he should have it. Personally, I think the man may have digestive or bladder issues. The world need not be privy to these things. But I do think precautions or rules should be set. No electronics, etc. anywhere during important matches--whether in the halls or the bathrooms.

    I just now asked Mark for the specifics on a couple of instances from years ago. I remembered one with a chair and Fischer. He said it was 1972, Fischer vs. Spassky. He also mentioned Kasparov vs. Karpov in 1984-85. It's not like the concept of cheating is new, but it seems to be a bigger problem. I guess you'd have to look into stats over the years to know how much worse it may have gotten.

    To me, the point is cheating is a problem, generally speaking. Steroids have tarnished the physical sports. This is no different---just different ways to cheat :(

    As far as cheating online, it's a way for people to "look big" or "look smart" or "be better" in a way they can't do in real life. Some people just like to make other people feel "small" or look like idiots. There are those who place being "the best" or having a "medal" or something to brag about as more important than whether it's real or not or if it's hurting anyone. It's sad, but true :(

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