# ethics of an opponent's technology blunder

I'm looking for fresh ideas on an interesting ethics situation.

On-line correspondence chess. An opponent had me cornered: mate in 8 if I played well. I actually made a major dumb move that gave him a mate in 1. Here's the rub, he had used the "conditional moves" option on chess.com and made what amounts to a GUI typo, triggering the wrong conditional move and, if I take advantage of it, causing him to lose the game. He didn't make a bad judgement, he didn't play too fast or too loose, he made a technology-related mistake that is not related to chess at all. I might add that had I played better, the automatically-triggered conditional move would have been different and I would have lost the game. Essentially, I am faced with winning a game I should have lost, and winning by pure dumb luck.

So, do I take advantage of the situation and take the win I don't deserve, or do I act nobly and resign? Ethically, I know I can go both ways, and there is clearly no "right" answer to the question. I'm mostly positing this as a theoretical rather than a practical question. Does anyone have an interesting insight or an experience to share that might spur discussion?

Thanks, sklee

Mistakes are part of chess.  Your opponent should have checked his move.  Imagine if you didn't take advantage of any mistakes of your opponent - you'd always lose!

It doesnt work that way. Conditional moves kick in on condition that you make the move he predicted. If you move something else, it cancels.

Conditional moves in online is not at all the same thing as premove in live, which is the behaviour you are describing here,

Oh, can you see your opponent's conditional moves before you make your own move?

No, you cant. But it;s called conditional because a condition has to be met.

If your response does not meet his condition, it cancels.

Example:

s

I agree. The conditional move is just that: conditional upon (in this case) your move. He programmed the conditional move that IF you made the move you did THEN he responds with (his blunder). So it was intentional. To solve your 'dilemma' you could have resigned when he had the mate in (maximum) 8, or you could offer a draw, but after the fact you should accept that he made a mistake, probably assuming he had the game in a won position, and play on. Next time resign sooner unless you were just playing on for curiosity.

Thanks all for the thoughts! I hadn't even considered the draw option (duh). The game is still on, so that remains a possiblity.

Of course it is absolutely true that taking advantage of an opponent's blunder is an integral part of chess and I'm prefectly justified in taking it. It can make for a pretty hollow victory, though, especially when it isn't even a real chess-related blunder. This wasn't a bad but intentional move, it was dropping the piece on the wrong square by accident.

I don't worry too much about ratings, but the added wrinkle in this story is that my opponent is rated some 300 points higher than me. My rating is thus set to be artificially inflated.

rooperi: thanks for the clarification of "pre-move" v. "conditional move". In this case, it was a conditional move: my opponent had programmed several conditional paths. I took the one that led more quickly to mate, which triggered the blunder on his part.

whynotplayagain: yes, you're right. Normally I would have resigned, but since my opponent had predicted mate in 8, and since he had set up what he thought was every possible conditional move, I wanted to play it out to see how close he was to his prediction. My mate in 1 move was a blunder on MY part trying to avoid the mate in 8 line, which triggered his blunder.

Weird stuff! I think I'll offer the draw now, though. A hollow draw feels better than a hollow win.

skleerbracht wrote:
rooperi: thanks for the clarification of "pre-move" v. "conditional move". In this case, it was a conditional move: my opponent had programmed several conditional paths. I took the one that led more quickly to mate, which triggered the blunder on his part.

In that case, the mistake was definitely his - he´d considered your move as a possibility, and programmed a blunder in reply, which in my view is just the same as waiting for your move and then making his blunder. You definitely deserve the win, I´d have no qualms about taking it! It´s ethically perfectly ok, and you´re actually helping him in the long run - he´ll consider his conditional moves more carefully in the future.

Yes, you got lucky.

But your opponent blundered. The ethical question I have is not whether you should take advantage of his blunder, but why he felt it necessary to enter so many conditional moves. Were you dragging out the game?

If you were truly, hopelessly lost why didn't you resign?

These are the ethical questions I would be asking. Your opponent should learn to use conditional moves judiciously. A typo in correspondence chess has been the cause of many losses. That's not an ethical consideration, it's one of meticulous attention to detail.

But choosing not to resign a hopeless position then publicly wondering whether you should accept the gift of a move entered incorrectly is a more challenging ethical consideration.

There is a little safty issue with conditionals, they become active as soon as you enter them on the board, it's easy to make a misclick error.

I'd like to see a submit button.

Win the game.  Why not take advantage of your opponent's mistake?  Obviously, you were hoping he would mess up since you played on.

Update, I offered the draw. He resigned.

SmyslovFan, Arcanus_Lupus, I may have goaded him into the conditional moves. He called a mate in 8. I believed him, but didn't quite see it, so I suggested he do the conditional moves to prove his point. I certainly was not dragging out the game, and although I did believe I was going to lose, I did want to get the most out of the end game: figure out exactly what he was seeing that I wasn't - I always seek to learn from my opponents, even (or especially) in a losing situation.

parallax_errorIn: I am sure he will avoid conditional moves in future, or at leat be more careful with them. As will I!

Now that the game is over you could post it and we'll see if there really was a mate in 8 as this dude claimed.

seems a lot of talk about an on-going game ?Even if the only moves left were conditional, any change by either party and the game continues along a different path.

eddysalin, good point. I'm not one to look for chess-move advice on an on-going game. Really, the ONLY possible question was resign or make a move that ensured my win.

I'll try to figure out how to post the game.

Here it is. Conditional moves started at around move 30. You can see that Qc4# was the desired and planned-for final more. Something I should have seen before moving my king. Hindsight and all that...

It's was an interesting scenario I don't think gets repeated too often. Thanks all for your comments!

sklee

Life is good when you pick your own poison.

Interesting philosophical questions. Many live players have no ethics at all. After the draw was declined you were obliged to take the win.

skleerbracht wrote:

I'm looking for fresh ideas on an interesting ethics situation.

On-line correspondence chess. An opponent had me cornered: mate in 8 if I played well. I actually made a major dumb move that gave him a mate in 1. Here's the rub, he had used the "conditional moves" option on chess.com and made what amounts to a GUI typo, triggering the wrong conditional move and, if I take advantage of it, causing him to lose the game. He didn't make a bad judgement, he didn't play too fast or too loose, he made a technology-related mistake that is not related to chess at all. I might add that had I played better, the automatically-triggered conditional move would have been different and I would have lost the game. Essentially, I am faced with winning a game I should have lost, and winning by pure dumb luck.

So, do I take advantage of the situation and take the win I don't deserve, or do I act nobly and resign? Ethically, I know I can go both ways, and there is clearly no "right" answer to the question. I'm mostly positing this as a theoretical rather than a practical question. Does anyone have an interesting insight or an experience to share that might spur discussion?

Thanks, sklee

Ethics is what your consciense can stand!! I would have resigned rather than see what I can get away with. This is the dilemma in politics and causes WARS rather than understand the other side's culture. Happy reflections!!

William

The main ethical question here was you seeking input on what to do about a game still in progress!

There is NO rule of ethics or sportsmanship that suggests you should "forgive" an opponent's mistakes, no matter how or why they made them.  He blew a winning position? So what?  He only achieved a winning position because YOU previously made mistakes.  Now he makes a mistake and gives it all back.

It happens.  Get over it.