chess cheating update Oct 2022

JeffroJones

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Regarding the recent posts about chess cheating and the behaviour of Niemann and Carlsen after their Sinquefield Cup match in St. Louis.
Chess.com has released a statement:
CHEATING STATEMENT
Apparently the chess world is doubling down on their condemnation of Niemann!

:::
 

Killing Floor

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For the first time in my life I am interested in chess. For the first time in their lives my kids are curious about chess. It would be a shame for the federation to blow the opportunity to capitalize on this.
 

Stubee

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For the first time in my life I am interested in chess. For the first time in their lives my kids are curious about chess. It would be a shame for the federation to blow the opportunity to capitalize on this.
Watch “The Queens Gambit” on Netflix. It’s been years since I’ve played and I was no better than I was as a bridge player, but I appreciate the obtainment of total mastery of both. Like most things, the very top individuals are breathing rarified air not available to my mere mortal existence.
 

Cali Dude

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I've been playing chess on chess.com for a good 4+ years now. I am happy to hear that the caught the cheater. That's a real slimy thing to do. I hope that guy gets banned.
 

Milspec

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I've been playing chess on chess.com for a good 4+ years now. I am happy to hear that the caught the cheater. That's a real slimy thing to do. I hope that guy gets banned.
I feel the same way even though I haven't played in more than 12 years. I used to play all the time and won a few city tournaments, but then I met a Col. in the Russian Army who invited me to play aboard ship. He crushed me in 7 moves and I never felt so stupid. I really never saw it coming and although he was very apologetic about it, he was just light years beyond my skill level. I never played again.

I don't really see how the kid would have cheated in head to head play, but I guess there is always a way to cheat....hope they ban him for life personally.
 

ahiddentableau

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I don't really see how the kid would have cheated in head to head play, but I guess there is always a way to cheat....hope they ban him for life personally.

I read about the theories regarding how he did it, and I wish I hadn't. Gross.

I think the kid was very likely was cheating, but I'm still not super comfortable with banning him in over the board tournaments when the evidence against him is all based on internet play. In general, I am a big fan of due process and a presumption of innocence. But at the same time, it's hard to blame them if they ban him. I mean, Do you really want to have to shine lights up people's hoo-ha before every match? I don't know about the hardcore folks, but I definitely don't love chess that much!
 

Skyhook

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Regarding the recent posts about chess cheating and the behaviour of Niemann and Carlsen after their Sinquefield Cup match in St. Louis.
Chess.com has released a statement:
CHEATING STATEMENT
Apparently the chess world is doubling down on their condemnation of Niemann!

:::
Is there a TL;DR edition available?

How is it even possible to cheat at chess?!
I'm picturing one of these two scenarios:

1) There's an argument about how the pieces move and it all devolves into
a Cleese/Palin -esque "Yes it is!", "No it isn't!" -fight.

2) "Look! There's a green monkey in a clownsuit behind you!",
[quick change to the board], "Awww... you just missed it!"

Both of these scenarios seem terribly unlikely in an official tournament where there
are not only an audience watching the game but also official referees
and controllers. Hell... there's even a song about those guys!



So what gives?!

Also, have you ever heard something that's not ABBA sound do much like ABBA?
There's a reason for that, of course... :twisted:
 

ahiddentableau

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I've been reading way too much about this so I'll try to give the TL;DR version that covers the main info:

The core of the story is a 19 year old American named Hans Niemann was playing a tournament against the Norwegian god-knows-how-many-times world champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen is way better than Niemann, but Niemann beat him. Not just beat him, but did it using the black pieces, which is really, really hard to do. During this match Carlsen believed Niemann was cheating. He said the moves he made were completely unfamiliar and that Niemann didn't even seem to be concentrating or trying hard during the critical phase of the match. He also knew that Niemann had a history of cheating (we don't know how Carlsen knew this, but he did). So Carlsen quit. He just walked away. Afterwards, he sent a cryptic message on Twitter (basically "If i say anything I'll be in big trouble"). The chess world freaked out. Soon thereafter Niemann and Carlsen played again, and Carlsen made one move and then quit again. More freakout. So it was a clear accusation of cheating by Carlsen against Niemann. Niemann issued a denial. He said he had cheated when he was a kid, but that he had never cheated in a money tournament. In the subsequent week or so, one of the leading chess websites (chess.com) released a report that used analytics to argue (pretty convincingly) that Niemann had a long history of cheating, including in money tournaments.

Much of the interest is grounded in speculation of how Niemann could have done this. The argument basically goes like this:

Computers are good at chess. Really, really, really good. They can mop the floor with even the very best human players. Accordingly, there are a number of chess engines out there that can feed you moves that can blow even Magnus Carlsen off the table. And if you're a top end player you don't even need much help. Just a couple of moves from the engine can take you from behind in the match to an insurmountable lead.

So the question is: how do you get computer help in an over-the-board/live match? And that's where it gets really interesting. There are minaturized machines out there that allow you to smuggle the computer engine in a very compact space. We're talking about something about the size of a matchbox. And chess moves are simple enough for the required information to be sent in simple code. So if you can get a computer that is small enough to smuggle into the room and know the code, you can use the computer plus some kind of signaling device to get computer help in a live match. All you need is a device that will create beats or thumps. It's not complicated; the technology already exists and is easily available. There are websites where you can buy them (the one I saw was $6,000). It is an open secret in the chess world.

So how to smuggle it in? This is the attention-grabbing part of the story. There are two leading theories for how Niemann did it. Number one is that he placed one of these in the heel of his shoe, and there was a thumper that contacted his foot to transmit the info. The second is that he placed it in...a sex toy that is placed in the rectum. I'm not kidding. This is a thing. So the "prison wallet" theory has gotten a lot of press. Other possibilities being mentioned are using another person in the room with a signaling scheme (where the person walks, posture etc as code), or using infrared lazer points and contact lenses. But mostly the press has glommed onto the butt stuff angle, for obvious reasons.

So that's the story. Chess + "prison wallet" = media sensation

Edit: Because I can't spell.
 
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HoodieMcFoodie

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I've been reading way too much about this so I'll try to give the TL;DR version that covers the main info:

The core of the story is a 19 year old American named Hans Niemann was playing a tournament against the Norwegian god-knows-how-many-times world champion Magnus Carleson. Carleson is way better than Niemann, but Niemann beat him. Not just beat him, but did it using the black pieces, which is really, really hard to do. During this match Carleson believed Niemann was cheating. He said the moves he made were completely unfamiliar and that Niemann didn't even seem to be concentrating or trying hard during the critical phase of the match. He also knew that Niemann had a history of cheating (we don't know how Carleson knew this, but he did). So Carleson quit the match. He just walked away. Afterwards, he sent a cryptic message on Twitter (basically "If i say anything I'll be in big trouble"). The chess world freaked out. Soon thereafter Niemann and Carleson played again, and Carleson made one move and then quit again. More freakout. So it was a clear accusation of cheating by Carleson against Niemann. Niemann issued a denial. He said he had cheated when he was a kid, but that he had never cheated in a money tournament. In the subsequent week or so, one of the leading chess websites (chess.com) released a report that used analytics to argue (pretty convincingly) that Niemann had a long history of cheating, including in money tournaments.

Much of the interest is grounded in speculation of how Niemann could have done this. The argument basically goes like this:

Computers are good at chess. Really, really, really good. They can mop the floor with even the very best human players. Accordingly, there are a number of chess engines out there that can feed you moves that can blow even Magnus Carleson off the table. And if you're a top end player you don't even need much help. Just a couple of moves from the engine can take you from behind in the match to an insurmountable lead.

So the question is: how do you get computer help in an over-the-board/live match. And that's where it gets really interesting. There are minaturized machines out there that allow you to smuggle the computer engine in a very compact space. We're talking about something about the size of a matchbox. And chess moves are simple enough for the required information to be sent in simple code. So if you can get a computer that is small enough to smuggle into the room and know the code, you can use the computer plus some kind of signaling device to get computer help in a live match. All you need is a device that will create beats or thumps. It's not complicated; the technology already exists and is easily available. There are websites where you can buy them (the one I saw was $6,000). It is an open secret in the chess world.

So how to smuggle it in? This is the attention-grabbing part of the story. There are two leading theories for how Niemann did it. Number one is that he placed one of these in the heel of his shoe, and there was a thumper that contacted his foot to transmit the info. The second is that he placed it in...a sex toy that is placed in the rectum. I'm not kidding. This is a thing. So the "prison wallet" theory has gotten a lot of press. Other possibilities being mentioned are using another person in the room with a signaling scheme (where the person walks, posture etc as code), or using infrared lazer points and contact lenses. But mostly the press has glommed onto the butt stuff angle, for obvious reasons.

So that's the story. Chess + "prison wallet" = media sensation
Thanks for posting this TL;DR version. 72 pages of the Chess.com report was about 71 pages too long for me.
 

JeffroJones

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Apologies to the posters who said
TL;DR
My bad :)

Thanks to ahiddentableau for a really terrific precis of the situation.
(small correction: Carlsen completed the match, but quit the tournament. He quit the next match, I believe)
PC Gamer, where I read the story, also has a more concise update, at this link:
PC GAMER STORY
I thought I would post the Chess.com link for "completeness".
I didn't notice it was so long.

:::
 
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JeffroJones

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Is there a TL;DR edition available?

How is it even possible to cheat at chess?!
Yeah, re: TL;DR, see my post just above :)

As for cheating, where there's a will, there's a way.
For "over the board" real life tournaments:
The poster above mentions electronic signalling devices.
Or the toilet break, where you've left a smartphone with chess software behind the cistern.
etc.
Online tournaments are big.
Easy to cheat with a chess engine running at the same time, giving you your moves.
Of course, the sites monitor for the "predictability" of your moves, but that was allegedly Niemann's original method.
Despite that, Chess.com maintains the majority of games are honest, according to their analysis.
I, for one, see online chess as a match against "myself", and just seek to improve, so cheating is pointless.
But some (few) others have a different agenda, I guess.

:::
 

ahiddentableau

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Thanks for posting this TL;DR version. 72 pages of the Chess.com report was about 71 pages too long for me.

I was worried that my TL;DR version was still about a twice the length it should be, so I'm glad it you liked it. I tried to shorten it but there are so many little details that it's impossible to be truly brief.
 

ahiddentableau

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Online tournaments are big.
Easy to cheat with a chess engine running at the same time, giving you your moves.
Of course, the sites monitor for the "predictability" of your moves, but that was allegedly Niemann's original method.
Despite that, Chess.com maintains the majority of games are honest, according to their analysis.
I, for one, see online chess as a match against "myself", and just seek to improve, so cheating is pointless.
But some (few) others have a different agenda, I guess.

:::

In the report there's an interesting nugget: the chess.com software has a keylogger, so they could tell when a player alt-tabs to another screen. It turns out Niemann was frequently doing this precisely before he made his big, very-likely computer suggested moves. It's the single most damning piece of evidence against him.

But of course now that it's public knowledge, cheaters will use a second device. Not hard to just use your phone.
 

john_cribbin

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London
Here's a poker story from a few days ago, another alleged vibrating device in action.

Where there's money, there's temptation.

 




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