Moral decay or exaggerated hype?

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Cheating is hot news. Last week there was an article on Chessbase about the Indian player D.P.Singh who was allegedly caught cheating. During Corus, where Topalov and Kramnik are both participating, there will probably also be talked about the incidents that occurred during the World Championship match. And yesterday there appeared a report of the 'Chess Cheating Conference' that was held last month in New York. What's going on?

Actually, the conference was a rather strange show, if you ask me. There were six panel members, all concerned about possible cheating practices in chess tournaments. What do you need a panel for, then? They called for sanctions, checks and possible legal steps. But the causes of the problems were also considered. According to the minutes, IM Danny Kopec, computer professor at Brooklyn College, said the following about it:
"Danny Kopec portrayed cheating as a natural outgrowth of a creeping erosion in respect for the culture of tournament chess, even among participants themselves.

Faster time limits, inconvenient and stressful playing schedules, increased reliance on databases and opening preparation, and the elimination of adjournments ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú taken together, these changes signify that chess is no longer "The Royal Game.

"Today, instead of tournament behavior and results being driven by "ethics, morals, and the essence of the logic of chess," Dr. Kopec said, "It seems that like in most other endeavors in life, the clock and monetary reward seem to dictate chess, while the science and pure love of the game/sport suffers."

The relatively recent degradation of competitive chess is rooted in commercialism. Organizers, professionals, adult class players and young players all bear part of the blame, according to Dr. Kopec."

As you see, it's those "bad, bad capitalists who are to blame again." Money is the root of all evil. It's a pity that Kopec doesn't provide any data which shows that cheating has increased since chess has become more commercial, that we can indeed speak of "a creeping erosion in respect for the culture of tournament chess", no concrete research that shows "ethics, morals, and the essence of the logic of chess" is on its return, and that science and pure love of the game" is suffering.

And is cheating really a recent phenomenon? The most well-known example of cheating is the Turk, the 'chess computer' that wasn't a chess computer at all and that so cunningly beat Napoleon more than two hundred years ago. The most well-known case of lack of respect for the culture of tournament chess is the conclusion of the game Steinitz-Von Bardeleben, that was played back in 1895.

Every week, all over the world, hundreds if not thousands of tournament games are played. I think the number of 'incidents' of the past years, which the Cheating Conference was all about, can be counted on one hand. Five cases on hundreds of thousands of games. Are we really dealing with moral decay here, or is this yet another chess hype?
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