A lesson in chess

Apr 11, 2012, 12:50 AM |

Lately, I have some doubts about chess.com's anti-cheating system. I will present you a case where an account closure was IMO done in haste, probably by an automatic system of chess.com.

The account macidm was closed and the account name can be found in the Cheating List.  He was sure that his account was closed because of the use of multiple accounts. Why ? Because he and his daughter andra_mm were participating at The National Romanian Juniors Chess Championship, where she was competing. While being away from home, they were using the same laptop and the same internet connection. While at home, they are using different connections and even different browsers. In this case, andra_mm used her account and after a while, macidm used his account on the same browser. Immediately after making a move in one of his chess.com games, his account was closed. The coincidence is too big to believe that there could be any other reason for the closure. Taking this into account, anybody with a decent amount of common sense can notice that they have a different Opening repertoire, with a different playing style (King's Indian vs. Nimzowitsch, Alehin vs. e5).

After he explained this situation in a message sent to chess.com Support, he received the answer:
"You cannot use ANY outside assistance (including books and databases) on Live Chess games. Fixing games results (through intentional loss or multiple accounts) is also cheating."

I have the feeling that chess.com's policy of not creating a precedent with admitting a mistake (like an automatic process that wrongfully closed an account for multi-account) was the motive that he received that answer. Obviously you would ask why am I saying this ... There are several aspects here.

First of all, I know the standard chess.com answer that it doesn't matter if someone is FIDE, USCF, ... 'cause they can be caught cheating as well, like WGM Yelena Dembo, for example. Nevertheless, I would still add that the user behind the “macidm” account is DOMBI-MARIAS RUDOLF, a very well-known Romanian referee and chess player. I'll show you only some links regarding his activity: 
 http://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=1215477 - his officially FIDE rating
 http://www.frsah.ro/colegii_si_comisii.htm - Romanian Chess Federation
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3WV9uhG4QU - Referee quality in the description (arbitraj = arbitrage)
I’m sure you can use a Romanian translator like Google Translator to understand better the content (if needed) and I am also sure that you can find some other links on the net regarding him or the Chess Club of Baia Mare, where he is the President of the Club.

The second aspect to be taken into consideration would be his Live Chess games: http://www.chess.com/home/game_archive.html?member=macidm&show=live
He has 22 games played this year in three Live Chess competitions. The games were 1 minute length and 2 min + 1 sec/move, respectively.  It is not too much to browse through 22 games and see if he cheated or not. 
This matter can be splitted into several sub-aspects as well. First sub-aspect would be that the Bullet is too quick to actually allow you to use an engine and especially books and databases ! A good chess player will recognize human mind thinking patterns and strategic plans through the middle-game and end-game (as you know, any prepared player knows the main openings, at least to some degree). Second sub-aspect would be that he lost the tournaments,leaving his queen "en prise" or getting checkmated, for example. This doesn't fit very well with the cheating accusation, does it ?   Third sub-aspect is that he is not a teenager needing to "fix" his rating in any way, especially by losing games ...  The fourth sub-aspect is that you will find the same opening patterns in his Live Chess games as you will find them in his Online Chess games, this being quite a human approach and not a silicon one.

I am very well aware that chess.com will not go back a single inch admitting a mistake, so the purpose of this topic is to rise an awareness among the members of chess.com that the system is not faultless and you should not blame any banned account in haste, without personally looking up more information regarding the case.