The war of words: ChessBase vs. NIC

The war of words: ChessBase vs. NIC

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Chess has plenty of huge egos and there are many infamaous feuds. The latest conflagration is between software giant Chessbase and chess publishing giant New in Chess. Chessbase has always hated it when peope disagree with them, as I often have (and I've always been right). So when New in Chess dismissed their idea of a 15-minute delay in broadcasting moves, Chessbase reacted in typical hyperbolic manner.

At issue is how to stop cheating. The Chessbase proposal makes some sense and appeals to me as an arber but there are some practical obstacles. We'll get to the substance in a bit, but first here is the part that got NIC angry, as presented by Chessbase on their website:

"In the latest New in Chess article, which is once again unsigned, the author begins by scolding us for the almost complete reproduction of two columns in the magazine. He writes: "With a slight frown we couldn't remember having given permission for that, but then quickly realised that we were in the world of copy and paste." Copy and paste indeed – New in Chess comes on very thin slices of tree, so we had to scan and OCR the blooming thing. Give us at least credit for that – even if reproducing most of the piece did cause our critic the inconvenience of not being able to say we quoted him incompletely or out of context."

It seems a bit of a murky area when you quote someone's attack on you or your ide, giving proper credit to the source. Permission should probably have been requested, but this seems a wrist-slapping offense not a capital one.

As for the propsal itself, here it is:


  1. FIDE must announce that it is taking measures to prevent any suspicion of cheating, and that there will be stern penalties for anyone caught using outside assistance during a game.

  2. Players are advised that they are not allowed to take any electronic devices whatsoever to the playing site. If a player needs a specific electronic device, e.g. a hearing aid, this must be registered with the arbiter and organiser in advance.

  3. If a player is caught transporting any form of electronic device to the playing location he immediately forfeits the game, irrespective of whether the device can be used to communicate moves or not (i.e. a switched-off cell phone or an iPod).

  4. The seconds and associates of a player are not allowed to enter the playing hall. This measure can be implemented for all categories of tournaments.

  5. The audience at the event are advised that they may not take any electronic devices into the playing hall. Cell phones must be switched off, and any spectator caught operating a cell phone in the playing hall will be subject to expulsion and a stiff fine.

  6. In top-level classical chess games the moves must not leave the playing hall for a certain period of time, typically for 15 minutes after they have been played. In rapid chess games that are being broadcast the delay can be reduced to five minutes.

  7. The playing hall should be designed to prevent visual contact between the players and the audience. This is done by lighting up the stage brightly and keeping the audience area dark (as in a theatre). A glass wall may also be necessary.

    It seems to me that to make this work, you must exclude all spectators from the playing hall, including journalists. This is not a terrible thing. It would improve playing conditions but I don't think it would be practical at all rated events. Still, spectators are better off in ant would be awkward analysis, commentary room, or watching over the Internet. A 15-minute delay on broadcaasting the moves is not intolerable.

    But it would be awkward to implement, and some reporting, such as the result of a game, really should be done immediately.

    There also would need to be exceptions for medical and security personnel, and this would cast some doubt on eliminating all pathsof cheating.

    The ChessBaseoncepteserves serious consideration, but so does criticism from players, arbiters, journalists and the public.

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