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 Ethical cheating in online chess

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What do you think of computer cheating in online chess?
it is an art
 0% [ 0 ]
it is a fraud
 92% [ 11 ]
it's just a game
 8% [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 12

Amir Bagheri
Amir Bagheri

Number of posts : 56
Location : France
Registration date : 2006-02-11

PostSubject: Ethical cheating in online chess   Sat 25 Feb - 10:01

When asked if using computers in online chess is "inherently unethical" many consider it so. Users of computers are labeled "cheaters." Many competitors mention that they would personally gain no satisfaction from winning if they used computer assistance. Many also equated using computers to letting the computer totally generate the moves without any involvement from the player. Using computers has been labeled by many as unethical and unsatisfying without any further thought about more subtle and creative uses of using analyzing computers as tools.

When assistance of computers to analyze positions is forbidden by the rules of play some difficulties arise. First of all is done properly computer aided play in online chess cannot be detected. Additionally there are all sorts of minor infractions that can occur with computer use. How about using a computer to study openings, say by using it as a practice opponent or allowing it to suggest lines of play for you to consider, when would you have to stop playing these lines ? If you consider this example trivial allow me to point out that such considerations have led to lengthy and heated debate already.

Here are my personal opinions on this subject. I see nothing "inherently" unethical about using computers. They are just one additional tool we can use to determine the move we wish to make. I wouldn't obtain personal satisfaction from plugging my positions into a computer and just accepting the generated moves but I'll allow that it is possible that some competitors would find this a fun way to play chess. There will always be competitors who want to play without computer assistance. I have no problem with that as long as they respect my perception too !

Chess is a magnificent activity. The art/sport/science of chess is great enough to encompass all competitors, whether they pursue correspondence, OTB, problem solving/composing, chess set collecting, chess-on-stamps collecting, chess forms designing, chess journalism, tournament directing, organizing, or the many other forms of chess activities. It would be grossly unfair for one set of chess enthusiasts to prohibit others from pursuing their preferred forms of the game. I would specifically propose chess competitions be made available for using computers to analyze or generate moves. I see no reason to satisfy those who are opposed to these ideas : I refuse to accept the tyranny of those who would force others to play only by their preferred rules.

The links below are representing two different viewpoints that people have about computer cheating art in online chess. After you look at each of them, you can vote in the poll.
Manuals and technical articles on how to cheat and improve your cheating skills, articles containing thoughts and viewpoints of numerous world-wide cheaters, cheaters forum, join the organization of computer cheaters and much more. Shortly, the ultimate computer cheating site.
Tips on how to spot a computer cheater, what to do if you think someone cheated on you, official answers of all major ICSs to 8 questions regarding their policy on computer cheating, psychological profile of cheaters from author's perspective, personal testimonials of cheaters, messages and emails from both cheaters and non-cheating players and much more. Shortly, the ultimate anti-cheating site.
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Number of posts : 11
Registration date : 2006-02-14

PostSubject: Re: Ethical cheating in online chess   Sun 26 Feb - 6:01

I find the use of computers to calculate moves not correct. Playing online chess is for me a way to practice and improve my level. I prefer to loose a game played by myself and learn from it, than win a game using a computer.
I do use opening books and opening data bases sometimes. In correspondence chess I find it is okay to use opening books. I don't do this allways, since sometimes I'm too lazy to look in a book for a variation. Embarassed
But anyway, using engines is fraud, I think.
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Number of posts : 46
Location : Germany
Registration date : 2006-02-13

PostSubject: Re: Ethical cheating in online chess   Sun 26 Feb - 10:09

I think there are correspondence chess organizations which allow use of computer engines to generate and/or verify moves. There's nothing against that as is. As Amir has stated before, there are all kinds of variations of chess, some of which include the usage of computer engines. It can introduce a high level of tactically sound play that may not be available without the use of computers. I personally cannot find that style of play very satisfactory, but I would never condemn it.
Online chess sites like ICC and FICS allow the usage of engines if explicitly stated, so that everyone can see it, shown e.g. with a (C) next to the name. This is probably the best way to deal with the situation. It gives those who wish to play with computer assistance the opportunity to do so, while also allowing people to freely choose to play against carbon-based brains only.
Of course, there still are people who use chess engines and do not admit it, be it by hiding the (C) or by using chess engines on sites which do not allow it. That is clearly fraud. When I want to play against the computer, I'll normally just start Fritz, not play against it hidden behind a chess player puppet. There is really no need to go through the process of finding an opponent and, esp. in case of correspondence chess, to wait for the opponents reply for hours or even days when I could have them right at my fingertips.
That kind of cheating is annoying for every honest player, and when you think about it, also, perhaps even more so, for the cheater himself. There's nothing you can learn from being your program's slave. There's no fun in beating an opponent when you clearly know that it wasn't actually you who beat him. Taken to the extreme, you could write a bot that does all the challenging / accepting / moving, so that no interaction is needed anymore. What is left of the game of chess then? Viewing how your bot's rating improves? Not really fun. It's clearly more entertaining to watch a real grandmaster vs. machine match, where everybody knows the odds beforehand. Of course, when you are developing a chess engine yourself, that is a completely different matter. But in such a cases you still have to put the (C) next to the name, so that everybody knows what he's dealing with.
But in correspondence chess, it is somewhat difficult to draw the line. I frequently use opening books / databases for playing, which is normally allowed (although I remember there has been a discussion on ChessHere about that very matter not terribly long ago - the use of opening books was not allowed in the beginning). When studying an opening, I also often play a couple of games against Fritz using that opening to evaluate a particular line / position and test some ideas. But am I allowed to do that while my CC opponent plays that very line? I frequently evaluate openings like that when entering a thematic tournament. Clearly, entering my opponents moves into the chess program would be cheating. But what if the opponent just plays the same moves that you are / were evaluating. It's highly unlikely that this will happen for more than a couple of moves, but anyway, would that be cheating? And what if I had evaluated a line 2 days before my opponent uses the same one? Is that cheating?
Another completely different, but similarly controversial matter are endgame tablebases. Are you allowed to use these in CC? They are just databases of a large number of positions that have been evaluated by the computer, and as such not very different from opening databases. What is different is the inherent definitiveness of tablebase moves. Each good or bad move can determine the outcome of the game. The only good thing is that tablebase positions aren't reached too often, most endgames are decided before a position with 6 or less pieces left on the board is reached (I don't think 7 or more piece tablebases are available at present...). But there are exceptions which are far from easy to play, e.g. 2 rooks and a pawn vs. queen.
I think it's better to grab a book about endgames and learn the technique than to just follow tablebase moves, but I guess unless a particular server / organization explicitly allows or disallows usage of endgame tablebases, there's no final decision about whether that is cheating or not. OTOH, when someone uses tablebases in an ongoing endgame, to be fair, he could at least just tell the opponent so - that might save time for both players in an ending that's already decided.
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Number of posts : 3
Location : Poland
Registration date : 2006-02-27

PostSubject: Computers...   Tue 28 Feb - 6:53

I hate playing against computers. Significant part of the beauty of chess is in inaccuracies, aggressive even if not fully correct attacks, attempts to confuse the opponent. Game human-computer is a game until the first inaccuracy, once it happened all is over. If human manages somehow to avoid one, he has some chances to draw. If additionally he (usually by accident) touches weak spot in the way machine handles endings, he can win (as Ponomariov in Bilbao, where it occured that Fritz underestimated value of passed pawn, the weakness about which I heard also in context
of some correspondence games).

Games computer-computer are very strange happenings which I do not fancy watching at all. Strange moves without any undestandable idea behind, game decided by the fact that some engine managed to calculate one ply deeper.

Advanced chess games, where both players use computers to back their play are a little bit different. The problem is whether the human really can add anything significant to the computer. Grandmaster (real, FIDE)? Probably still yes, at least in the form of opening selection and later in the game while evaluating ending transformation and when complicated ending is in play (an area in which machines are probably weakest). Amateur - I strongly doubt. MAYBE one could try to organize computer work (force lines and variations to be checked first, minimax deep searches etc) but with increasing engines quality it is going to be loss of time comparing to brute engine work.

So much in general. Now, to the point:

a) Using engine where it is forbidden is simply fraud.

b) Using engine where it is allowed is OK, but ... places which allow using engines will in my opinion soon die. ICCF and IECG look more and more pathetic, with unknown people suddenly climbing their rating lists, newbies facing recognized players without any problem and draw as dominant result. Strong computer, good engine, regular upgrades of both looks like a good way to become correspondence grandmaster. The title which is less and less valuable.

As about detection... I will not go into details of computerabuse works but to some degree it is possible. Just because computer-equipped human plays TOO WELL. It is most difficult in case of good or very good players who decide to cheat. I would say that on sites like ICC or FICS most cheaters of strength < 2000 are quite soon detected. Things go harder when some master starts to cheat, there it is harder to be sure, although even than one can make good guesses who is and who is not likely to cheat.
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Number of posts : 1
Registration date : 2006-03-31

PostSubject: Re: Ethical cheating in online chess   Mon 3 Apr - 17:34

Cheating is an epedemic problem on many sights I watched one guy last week,
do it 21 times in a row on playchess he just kept having his rating deleted and he
didn't care. I'd say 96% of guests on the big sights cheat like PlayChess and ICC oh
and correspondence chess is rife with cheating you have players signing up multiple
accounts to raise their rating sky high they also use proxies to work around IP
bans when they are caught.

It's pathetic and I know many clean players who have given up in fustration and
stopped playing online altogether.

Whatever happened to the spirit of the game and sportsmanship?
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Amir Bagheri
Amir Bagheri

Number of posts : 56
Location : France
Registration date : 2006-02-11

PostSubject: dAbruzzo   Tue 13 Jun - 6:56

this is a prive message for the above named person. I play on icc as emergency

GM Bagheri
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Number of posts : 2
Registration date : 2007-03-15

PostSubject: Re: Ethical cheating in online chess   Fri 27 Apr - 8:12

I’ve been playing postal chess off and on since 1960 and Internet since 2003. I did give up CC chess back when computers were playing around 2000 because at least half of my postal opponents were using them. I returned to CC in 2003 figuring most users were now well beyond my rating class. I’ve played a few since then…players on their way up like the 1800 I lost to who’s now 2450 but low rated players using engines CAN be beaten. One opponent got into a R&P ending he should have won, but was unaware that his engine generated checks and aimless shifting of his R only allowed me to advance my K & P and ultimately beat his engine. Because most of my CC and internet opponent’s are in the 2000-2200 range, engine users aren’t a problem. I’ll worry about them if I ever get over 2400. In the mean time if I play an occasional engine user, I won’t fret about it.
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