Forget Steroids; In Chess The Cheating Is All About Computer Assists

from the doping-with-algorithms dept

It’s always fascinating to see the lengths that people will go to in order to win certain competitions. There’s plenty of talk about performance enhancing drugs in sports like baseball and cycling — though, there’s a growing number who question how different some aspects of PEDs are compared to things like Lasik, which help your eyesight. However, in the chess world, the cheating is of a different nature: it’s all about getting a leg up with support from a silicon brain. Last year there was a big fuss over a chess player who was caught with a bluetooth earpiece sewn into his cap that was used to relay to him recommended moves from a computer during tournaments — but apparently, he’s far from unique in this area. Numerous chess players are either suspected of, or have been caught, cheating. In one case, a player was suspected of cheating because 25 straight moves matched identically to those recommended by a popular chess playing software. Obviously, using such a computer is cheating and against the rules — but in an age where people are growing up with the idea of Google as their backup brain, it’s really not too surprising that some would find it perfectly natural to artificially augment their chess playing skills with some computer help.

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Comments on “Forget Steroids; In Chess The Cheating Is All About Computer Assists”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But...

Actually most of the younger generation of top chess players today trains on computers, so in any given game the majority of their moves will match what a strong computer program would pick (probably somewhere around 70%). But 25 consecutive computer moves is still very strong evidence of cheating. I doubt that anyone could produce 25 computer moves without cheating even if he was a top GM.

Anonymous Coward says:

“stupidest article i have ever thought about reading in my life…..”

“I hate this article… quit at writing because you suck”

Wow, those are some quality people. When I read those I pictured two drunk red necks sitting in folding lawn chairs in front of a run down trailer.

Anyway, back to the actual topic. The problem with cheating is that it some times is hard to define. Is it still cheating if the person wrote the program they are using? What if the ear piece just plays back notes they recorded? What if one of the kids is all hopped up on Ginkgo Biloba? It’s really not clear what constitutes and advantage (which all competitors are looking for) and what constitutes cheating. That’s where the organization sponsoring the event needs to step in and draw some lines and implement tests for cheating.

Matthew says:

Chess is a game of memorization

FTA: Eugene Varshavsky, a low-ranked player, was searched thoroughly before each game after he beat a strong grandmaster by playing 25 consecutive moves that matched those suggested by a computer program. “Searched thoroughly” and yet not discovered to be cheating. Most of the article repeats this theme. Maybe the “grandmaster” took his opponent too lightly and embarrassed he lashes out and blames it on cheating?
I’m not a real strong player, but anyone good at the game knows how to beat a machine. This article attempt to draw a line between kids using Google to take tests and using programs to ‘cheat’ at chess is very shaky.

It seems like more of an attempt to get us to click on the NY Time’s web site.

Dury1 says:


I say if an athlete or whatever you might call a professional chess player uses anything outside of their own natural ability or mind is cheating.
I know there is a debate as to what merits natural ability as to over the counter meds, vitamins etc. as to how it might enhance a persons physical or mental ability.
But in regards to having a computer program tell you what your next move on a chess board should be is out and out cheating.

Carl Matiski says:

Clear Rules on cheating

“Anyway, back to the actual topic. The problem with cheating is that it some times is hard to define. Is it still cheating if the person wrote the program they are using? What if the ear piece just plays back notes they recorded? What if one of the kids is all hopped up on Ginkgo Biloba?”
I think it is very clear what constitutes cheating in a chess match. Any electrical device should be restricted from being used during a match. If he is all hyped up on Ginkgo, so be it , it will not help any.
On the issue with the player that was searched, as long as they did not find anything on him then he is not guilty. Yes I agree that he may have learned those moves from playing against the computer. If you are good then you will beat those computer moves, right?

Paul says:

re: ob 1

chess is a big deal in some countries and even in some circles in the us. just because the media doesn’t make a big deal, doesn’t mean its not as important as any other sport.

and you can be great at chess, but have absolutely no common sense. so saying they should be able to outsmart the judges doesn’t make much sense.

and you’re saying they should use computers to help? i say in sports, you should be allowed to hire another guy to help you out. person with the biggest assistant wins.

James says:


I thought there were no unique games inside the first 25 moves anymore. Every possible combination that makes sense has been played already, especially when you consider that within the first ten moves I have a text file that goes like a flow chart on reaction to the opponents opening moves. As long as I can remember it I play like Kasparov. If I cannot end the match inside ten moves I am hosed because that is all I have memorized so far. Works out to something like 300 permutations after the fifth move. Lots to memorize.

Anonymous Coward says:

Only so many moves...

This isn’t football or basketball where the physical prowess of the players on the field have direct influence on the game.

There are only so many ways a game of chess can go and a dedicated player will take the time to learn as many as possible.

In football you need brains and brawn but in chess you only need brains and one working arm/hand.

If this chess player Eugene Varshavsky and Peyton Manning were in the same car accident who’s career is in more danger?

Anonymous Coward says:

Varshavsky case

I read, I think it was a Scientific American article but I’m too lazy to try and find it, that the difference between grandmasters and lower rated players was mainly from the fact that grandmasters have studied more games and recognize positions from their studies. It is not from looking more moves ahead. In fact, for the first 20 moves in most high rated games are played out from memory. In the case of Varshavsky, if he played repeatedly an ‘offbeat’ variation of an opening against a computer, it is conceivable that he could get an advantage over a grandmaster who had not played that particular opening much. And as chess is as much psychological as anything, a lower rated player taking an early advantage would probably fluster a grandmaster affecting his end game and resulting in the out of characteristic game.
As for the general problem of cheating, they should not allow anyone not playing the games in the room except for a ref. And they should use an EMP to knockout any communication devices. If a few people with pacemakers die, so be it.

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