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Chess.com Fair Play And Cheat-Detection

Chess.com Fair Play And Cheat-Detection

Cheating in chess is a serious issue. The issue is magnified online, where there is no arbiter to physically observe play. Chess.com takes fair play and cheat-detection very seriously, and we have since our founding. 

We understand how frustrating cheating can be for our members. That's why we have invested so heavily in our system to catch cheaters. We draw a large crowd of players who want to cheat on the biggest stage. As the host of many online cash-prize events, we've improved our system even further to ensure quality, clean games by players to a level of accuracy making online play as safe from cheating as in-person chess.

We will continue to invest in our fair-play systems to provide our members the best chess experience online.

Chess.com's fair-play system is thorough, complex and rigorously verified by more than eight years of data from millions of games played by our own members online. Our system gathers and reviews different types of data and other information pulled automatically (and manually) from all member games.

We load these games into a tool that provides the probability that a given player is playing cleanly or with the assistance of a computer engine. Before any accounts are closed, all reports are thoroughly reviewed by a team of specialists who have reviewed and closed thousands of accounts in their roles as Chess.com statisticians.  

Though legal and practical considerations prevent Chess.com from revealing the full set of data, metrics, and tracking used to evaluate games in our fair-play tool, we can say that at the core of Chess.com's system is a statistical model that evaluates the probability of a human player matching an engine's top choices, and surpassing the confirmed clean play of some of the greatest chess players in history.

Below you will find testimonials by some of the world's most well-known grandmasters and online chess public figures. All those listed (as well as others not listed) were given a multi-hour course on Chess.com's fair-play system, and signed a non-disclosure agreement to protect the details of our cheat-detection methods.

GM Eric Hansen:

The agreement I signed for Chess.com prevents me from writing on the specifics, but I can say that I was more than impressed (and pleasantly surprised) with some of the things Chess.com's fair-play team showed me. They are as capable of keeping the game clean as anything I've ever seen."

GM Hikaru Nakamura:

Having seen Chess.com's system in great detail, both the algorithms used and the 'team at work' (when I was on-site at the Chess.com Meetups), I can attest fully that Chess.com's approach is advanced and far ahead of what I know other websites use to catch cheaters.

GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave:

I was more than pleased with both the standards held, the investment applied, and the approach taken by Chess.com towards its cheat detection systems. The quality and integrity of fair play has never been measured more accurately than in the hands of Roland, Gerard and the entire crew!

GM Georg Meier:

Having some insight into how other servers deal with cheating, I must say that I am very impressed with how Chess.com goes about it. Their use of scientific tools is thought-out and strikes me as extremely reliable.

IM John Bartholomew:

The cheating-detection methods that Roland and Danny demonstrated to me during a two-hour presentation are the most thorough and sophisticated I have ever seen. The Chess.com team has gone above and beyond to ensure fair play on their site, and this is reflected in the time and seriousness they have dedicated to testing and refining these methods. I have full confidence in Chess.com's ability to accurately identify cheaters.

GM Robert Hess:
Even before becoming involved with Chess.com's cheat detection system, I was impressed by the site's dedication to upholding fair play. I can personally attest to the diligence and prowess of Roland and his team; they have spent countless hours innovating and fine-tuning their algorithms to categorically prevent misconduct, and have successfully implemented an objective system that reduces human speculation.

Chess.com has received hundreds of confessions, including from both premium members and titled players. Below you will find admissions (real names removed) of a few titled players whose accounts were closed for fair-play violations in both daily and live chess:

Anonymous GM:

I was afraid to confess initially, fearing that my name would be published with inaccurate allegations and my reputation would be irreversibly damaged. I was afraid that you would not fully believe the following account of my actual behavior....

I did use computer assistance after the opening, around move 17-18, until the end of the game. I did the same against him in the night event out of further frustration after move 15, where he repeated the same pattern, and again, did not use any kind of assistance whatsoever in my other games.

Anonymous IM:

I'm sorry I did well sometimes Hiarcs chess sets used for analysis in only three days game. I would love to have me FIDE TITLE back, I'm going to do no more sorry,

Please can you give me another chance.

Anonymous FM:

I used Stockfish, I was sure others were using it too. I'm very sorry, and I would love another chance.

Anonymous FM:

My name is ANONYMOUS. Long months ago my account banned from Chess.com because I open engine for Title Tuesday. I know this is not acceptable fashion. I made a very big wrong, and I get banned. Every day I missed Chess.com I'm playing chess other sites now ( ICC, Playchess, Chesscube ) but Chess.com really different. I'm apologize for my immaturity. 

Have a good day.

Best regards from ANONYMOUS.

Anonymous NM:

I sadly have to confess I have used a cheating mechanism. When I play titled Tuesday I get so obsessed with playing and winning against strong players, that my morals and values escape me. I humbly apologize to all of Chess.com and promise that if I get my account back I will never cheat again. Please accept my apology.

Anonymous NM:

Dear chess community:

I sincerely apologize for my actions of cheating on Chess.com.

I succumbed to the pressures of being lazy and arrogant on a website that fosters good sportsmanship and fair play.

I admit my mistake and humbly asked to be reinstated to play chess on the best website in the world.

Anonymous NM:

Hi Chess.com staff,

Yes, I acknowledge that I frequently made my moves with the help of an engine on the Online Chess feature. For me personally, I think that correspondence-style chess should always allow use of engine and tablebases, as it does in official tournaments. I realize Chess.com does not share this view and I apologize for violating site rules. 

Chess.com's fair-play team employs industry-leading statisticians, computer scientists and chess experts:

  • Roland Walker | Director of Research
  • Gerard Le-Marechal | Head of Cheat-Detection and Chief of Data Analysis and Statistics
  • Richmond Holdren | Assistant of Cheat-Detection and Abuse Monitoring
  • Shaun McCoy | Director of Member Support
  • Erik Allebest | CEO
  • International Master Daniel Rensch | Vice President of Content and Professional Relations
  • Grandmaster Robert Hess | Special Consultant and Professional Relations
  • Numerous international and grandmaster chess consultants

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