How Does Someone Cheat in Chess?

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In summary, Magnus Carlsen accuses his rival Hans Niemann of cheating. Niemann denies the accusations, but admits to cheating in the past. Carlsen withdrew from a chess tournament following his defeat to the American.
  • #1
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https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/28/sport/chess-how-to-cheating-explainer-spt-intl/index.html
CNN —

It’s the story that has rocked chess and shown no sign of abating.

The cheating scandal which has engulfed the sport, involving five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen, is all anyone is talking about.

On Monday, Carlsen explicitly accused fellow grandmaster and rival Hans Niemann of cheating for the first time in a lengthy statement on Twitter.

The accusation comes weeks after the Norwegian withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 19 following his surprise defeat to the American.

“When Niemann was invited last minute to the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I strongly considered withdrawing prior to the event. I ultimately chose to play,” Carlsen wrote.

“I believe that Niemann has cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted. His over the board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do.

“This game contributed to changing my perspective.”

Niemann, for his part, admitted to cheating at the ages of 12 and 16 and said that he had been banned from competing on Chess.com, but said in an interview with the St. Louis Chess Club that he had never cheated in over-the-board games.

But for a game that seems so simple in its structure – one chess board, two players, 32 pieces in total and, theoretically, a lot of creativity – the question a lot of people are asking is: “How does someone even cheat in chess?”
 
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  • #2
Simple enough. You have somebody outside making suggested moves, some kind of communication allowing more minds to concentrate on the moves. A team is always stronger than an individual in most sports.
 
  • #3
Halc said:
A team is always stronger than an individual in most sports.
You don't need a team. A decent smart phone running Stockfish 15 will consistently utterly crush any human player these days

Compare FIDE ratings: Carlsen=2864, Stockfish##\approx##3500+.
 
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  • #4
Really, #3, a smartphone running some app during a chess game? What tournament officials in hoockle would allow that? Kind of like bringing in some obvious technology device when gambling in a casino. Security people are monitoring the players and are observing and assessing if a gambler is cheating. But with an openly-used smartphone at a chess match, the makes the cheating effort obvious.
 
  • #5
Well you don't do it openly. Chess cheating needs to be done by stealth. Your friend has the smart device. All you need is to devise a communication method, as I pointed out above.
 
  • #6
Halc said:
Well you don't do it openly. Chess cheating needs to be done by stealth. Your friend has the smart device. All you need is to devise a communication method, as I pointed out above.
Still, would an excuse be needed for the cheating player to have anything plugged into his ear, like he has a hearing disability? Should the device be equally openly inspectable?
 
  • #7
You could hide it your shoe like the gamblers do.

BoB
 
  • #8
Halc said:
Simple enough. You have somebody outside making suggested moves, some kind of communication allowing more minds to concentrate on the moves. A team is always stronger than an individual in most sports.
I have only read the quote you placed in post #1. Maybe I am too old-fashioned, but I do not understand playing a serious chess match competition when the conditions of play are not live in person, the players attending a real, physical chessboard with physical chess pieces within direct manual reach. And one or more officials directly live, present at the same chessboard.
 
  • #9
symbolipoint said:
Should the device be equally openly inspectable?
Devices of any kind are likely banned. So either it needs to be well hidden or needs to not be a device.
A person in the audience with subtle hand-signals say. It says in the OP quote that the cheating person wasn't even apparently fully concentrating on the game at critical points. He's probably concentrating on reading the signals.
 
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  • #10
Online cheating is rife but is easy to detect. The engines all make their moves in equal amounts of time. So if your opponent does that then you know. Computers also make preparatory adjusting moves that are too subtle for a human.

In face-to-face chess there is consulting a computer when visiting the rest room. Not that effective.

The latest scandal involves the accused supposedly having been told what Magnus Carlson was preparing as an opening. This would allow him to memorize a defense. Magnus implied it was apparent that this was going on, with the accused responding too quickly, acting bored, and so forth. The accused says he was lucky enough to have guessed what Magnus would do and indeed have prepared his defense. No rule against that.

It's not impossible. I once guessed what one of the questions would be on a mathematics final exam and memorized the answer, which I was incapable of understanding. If I hadn't done that I might have failed the class, which would have meant at least another semester to get my degree if not an outright flunkout. You use whatever you've got.

I was also once thought to be cheating in disc golf. I got in the zone and got a terrific score which my unzoned self could never have done. I didn't have a witness so I'm not sure anyone believed it.
 
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  • #11
Chess has devolved into a memorization contest. It's so demanding and boring that world champ Magnus Carlson refuses to defend his title again. It's too much work for too little reward. There's a lot to be said for the semi-random nature of card games.

Chess involves setting traps for your opponent. You study their psychology and try to set up a situation where a move the other guy likes will be bad for them. Against a computer you can't do that. It has too much foresight.
 
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  • #12
The idea is that Niemann used anal beads to transmit the information. You can buy them in any sexshop, they are hidden and invisible unless you play chess on onlyfans. Not sure how they are operated, but bluetooth seems to be the most obvious choice. That puts some limits on distance and makes detection reasonably simple. Still, definitely doable and definitely can take judges and other players by surprise.
 
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  • #13
On the other hand, if you look at the game in question Carlsen played a sub-standard, offbeat opening, made some poor moves in the middle game and Niemann found the winning moves. That one game didn't provide strong evidence in itself.

It's difficult to explain why Carlsen didn't finish the tournament and see how Niemann played against everyone else.

In the end he scored 3.5/8 ,against the others and finished 7th out of 9.
 
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  • #14
symbolipoint said:
Really, #3, a smartphone running some app during a chess game? What tournament officials in hoockle would allow that? [...]
Of course not. All intelligent electronic devices (including smart watches are totally banned).

Even if you're not trying to cheat, but have your smartphone in your pocket and someone phones you (i.e., you phone rings), then you forfeit the game and are ejected from the tournament.

Even if you have your smartphone turned off in your pocket, but someone notices a suspicious outline on your pocket, and your phone is discovered, then,... same severe penalty. :oldeek:

Modern tournament organizers usually implement some kind of system such that you can deposit your phone with them for safe keeping while you're in the playing hall.
 
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  • #15
symbolipoint said:
[...] but I do not understand playing a serious chess match competition when the conditions of play are not live in person, [...]
There is now software on most online chess platforms that can detect whether a player is making moves that too-frequently match the best moves in every position as recommended by very powerful software. Many people get banned frequently from the online platforms for this reason.

Another telltale is that the player tends to have a uniform elapsed time between moves, which is a mark of computer assistance.
 
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  • #16
Hornbein said:
Chess has devolved into a memorization contest. It's so demanding and boring that world champ Magnus Carlson refuses to defend his title again.
And yet he wants to get his ELO rating up above 2900 -- which he can't do unless he keeps playing rated games against the strongest opponents.
 
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  • #17
Hornbein said:
Chess involves setting traps for your opponent. You study their psychology and try to set up a situation where a move the other guy likes will be bad for them.
There's a LOT more to it than that (at the highest level). Positional play is what matters there -- gradually inducing+exploiting subtle pressure against the weaker spots in an opponent's position.
 
  • #18
symbolipoint said:
What tournament officials in hoockle would allow that?
Hoockle I say! Hoockle indeeed!
 
  • #19
strangerep said:
Another telltale is that the player tends to have a uniform elapsed time between moves, which is a mark of computer assistance.
It gets comical when they have a simple won position against a strong player but cannot speed up and eventually lose the game on time.

Another telltale sign is playing a complicating move in a totally won position, where any strong human player would choose a simple win. Especially playing a move that would require a lot of calculation.
 
  • #20
PeroK said:
It gets comical when they have a simple won position against a strong player but cannot speed up and eventually lose the game on time.
There is a video of a cheater doing this against Carlsen online.

Anyway, chess cheating is a lot easier to detect than bridge cheating.
 
  • #21
The following is well-known in the UK, but I don't know if the story was reported in other countries.

There is an example of cheating in a competition, outside the world of chess, where someone won an episode of the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? by having a collaborator in the audience who coughed every time the correct multiple-choice answer was read out. Suspicions rose due to his somewhat erratic behaviour during the recording. The participants were subsequently prosecuted and found guilty of "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception".

Charles Ingram § Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? scandal
 
  • #22
Hornbein said:
There is a video of a cheater doing this against Carlsen online.

Anyway, chess cheating is a lot easier to detect than bridge cheating.
How do you cheat at bridge??

I was not good enough at chess to cheat at it.

This is another thing that mobile phones have ruined, the other being pub quizzes.
 
  • #23
pinball1970 said:
How do you cheat at bridge??

I was not good enough at chess to cheat at it.

This is another thing that mobile phones have ruined, the other being pub quizzes.
Bridge, you develop a system of signals with your partner. The dominant world champions of bridge were caught doing this.

It is so easy to cheat in bridge you have to make a serious effort to NOT do it. Few club players make this effort.
 
  • #24
Hornbein said:
Bridge, you develop a system of signals with your partner. The dominant world champions of bridge were caught doing this.

It is so easy to cheat in bridge you have to make a serious effort to NOT do it. Few club players make this effort.
I think the only thing we agreed on for bridge was that we were not allowed to display any outward signs of emotion.
No happy face to indicate a rock crusher and no bottom lip when handed a Yarbrough.
 
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  • #25
strangerep said:
There is now software on most online chess platforms that can detect whether a player is making moves that too-frequently match the best moves in every position as recommended by very powerful software. Many people get banned frequently from the online platforms for this reason.

Another telltale is that the player tends to have a uniform elapsed time between moves, which is a mark of computer assistance.
I am still shocked by all this but probably naive considering the stakes.

Like I mentioned in the other thread Karpov and Kasparov was pure intense mind verses mind.
One tournament lasted months and was halted because the mental health of the contestants was a worry!

A beautiful game ruined by technology in some respects.
 
  • #26
Check out Ivanov regarding cheating over the board. In the end, he wasn't proven guilty, but his career got demolished.

I also read a few years ago about a rather old man (maybe in his 50's) who was very far from the top players, and then suddenly his rating started to go to the roof in no time. He was then over 2500 elo, but got caught. You might want to google that. I think he went to the bathroom several times per game, which could allow him to cheat with a cell phone.
 
  • #27
DrGreg said:
[...] someone won an episode of the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? by having a collaborator in the audience who coughed every time the correct multiple-choice answer was read out.
The same thing happened in the Australia version of that show.
 
  • #28
pinball1970 said:
I am still shocked by all this but probably naive considering the stakes.
I find it weird that people cheat when using online chess platforms. There's no money at stake, only rating points on that platform.

OTOH, there was a case recently when chess streamer Levy Rosman (aka "GothamChess") called out Indonesian online player Dadang Subur for cheating. He (Rosman) got massively attacked online by many Indonesians, even with death threats, for daring to make such an accusation against an Indonesian player.

Eventually, a more controlled match was arranged between female IM (International Master) Irene Sukander and Dadang Subur. Sukander won easily (3-0), with Subur making more than a few obviously-poor moves. Thus Rosman was vindicated, and many Indonesians started watching Rosman's youtube channel. (Levy subsequently referred to them as "all my new Indonesian friends".)

The catch is that the Sukander-Subur match was for money -- roughly the equivalent of USD 21,000, and was viewed online by vast numbers of subscribers.
So Sukander won USD 14,000 but (although he lost 3-0) Subur still got USD 7,000! :oldeek: :doh:
 
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  • #29
Someone once pretended his elderly ailing wife was a great pianist. He issued obscure recordings by others under her name. Some critics praised what they had dismissed in its original release.
 
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  • #30
strangerep said:
I find it weird that people cheat when using online chess platforms. There's no money at stake, only rating points on that platform.

OTOH, there was a case recently when chess streamer Levy Rosman (aka "GothamChess") called out Indonesian online player Dadang Subur for cheating. He (Rosman) got massively attacked online by many Indonesians, even with death threats, for daring to make such an accusation against an Indonesian player.

Eventually, a more controlled match was arranged between female IM (International Master) Irene Sukander and Dadang Subur. Sukander won easily (3-0), with Subur making more than a few obviously-poor moves. Thus Rosman was vindicated, and many Indonesians started watching Rosman's youtube channel. (Levy subsequently referred to them as "all my new Indonesian friends".)

The catch is that the Sukander-Subur match was for money -- roughly the equivalent of USD 21,000, and was viewed online by vast numbers of subscribers.
So Sukander won USD 14,000 but (although he lost 3-0) Subur still got USD 7,000! :oldeek: :doh:
I'm definitely good enough to lose 3-0. Especially for 7K!
 
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  • #31
Cheating at live card room poker became so ubiquitous back in my playing days that I modified tactics to take advantage of collusion among cheaters including reading their signals and letting the 'loser' team members build a pot for my hidden superior hands. One can only imagine the widespread cheating and collusion playing online money poker outside the purview of a professional casino / card room.
 
  • #32
Klystron said:
Cheating at live card room poker became so ubiquitous back in my playing days that I modified tactics to take advantage of collusion among cheaters including reading their signals and letting the 'loser' team members build a pot for my hidden superior hands. One can only imagine the widespread cheating and collusion playing online money poker outside the purview of a professional casino / card room.
Recalling the title question, How do you even cheat in chess? ; and knowing that Chess is a very competitive INTELLECTUAL skill, so that using ones own mind with the chess skills must be of the highest of goals (so the competitions cannot be about money), we need to ask, "Why even cheat in chess?"
 
  • #33
symbolipoint said:
we need to ask, "Why even cheat in chess?"
Money, fame, etc. Duh?
 
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  • #34
symbolipoint said:
Recalling the title question, How do you even cheat in chess? ; and knowing that Chess is a very competitive INTELLECTUAL skill, so that using ones own mind with the chess skills must be of the highest of goals (so the competitions cannot be about money), we need to ask, "Why even cheat in chess?"
Many people like to cheat. They enjoy it and will do it even when nothing is at stake. Recently we had a case study in this. During COVID the bridge community moved online to a platform where it was very easy to cheat. About ten percent did so, as was shown via the examination of hand records. This included some famous players, such as one who had been on the cover of Bridge World. One cheating couple really had the name of Toogood.
 
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  • #35
symbolipoint said:
Recalling the title question, How do you even cheat in chess? ; and knowing that Chess is a very competitive INTELLECTUAL skill, so that using ones own mind with the chess skills must be of the highest of goals (so the competitions cannot be about money), we need to ask, "Why even cheat in chess?"
At high level the competitions are indeed about money. At lower levels, we ask "what is best in life?" Answer: "Crush your enemies, see them pout then weep before you, and hear the lamentation of their queen when you take her." -- Conan [paraphrased].
 
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