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@ohduckme, Correspondence chess has a long tradition of being able to consult chess books during the course of the game (which, when playing through the mail often took a year or more). Cheating would have been asking the advice of another player, or, as the computer age arrived, using databases. It was a game based on the honor system.
Today, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be an honor system for many. Consulting books during daily games is not cheating, using databases and engines is.
For live games it would only be allowed to set up the actual position, which would be too distracting for me to duplicate unless there was more than an hour on my clock initially.
For daily games, it might help a little but I'm too lazy!
I've set up a real board to mimic live games. Never occurred to me to use it to play out variations. I just prefer a 3-D view over a 2-D view, nothing more, nothing less.
Maybe its an age thing, chess has always been a 3-D game to me.
The problem as I see it is this. I regard online chess as training for over the board. You can't willy nilly move the pieces around on a side board in real life, so why change essential the nature of the game for one self? if you use another board you are not playing chess, but a chess variant. Let's call it 'Sideboard Chess'.
.. using databases and engines is.
Databases are allowed for Daily; the site even provides one. Engines certainly are not allowed.
@Martin_Stahl, You are right of course, my mistake. Thank you for the correction.
I'm visually impaired. I don't use the regular board as my second board. But, I would think that there are certain players doing that method. Nothing's wrong with that. I do use the self analysis board to analyze the moves before I make my next move. I mostly play 3 day per move games. Don't think it's cheating because it's the self analysis thing.