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How Do You Detect Cheating In Chess? Watch the Computer

timothy posted about a year ago | from the and-one-and-two-and-one-and-two dept.

AI 328

First time accepted submitter Shaterri writes "Which is more likely: that a low-ranked player could play through a high-level tournament at grandmaster level, or that they were getting undetected assistance from a computer? How about when that player is nearly strip-searched with no devices found? How about when their moves correlate too well with independent computer calculations? Ken Regan has a fascinating article on one of the most complex (potential) cheating cases to come along in recent memory."

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328 comments

Simply put.. (-1, Flamebait)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#42590541)

If you win against a computer you are cheating

Re:Simply put.. (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#42590587)

Where the hell did you get that from? Your quest for the first post clearly outweighed your desire to read anything written and think.

Re:Simply put.. (-1, Flamebait)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#42590611)

Great job, Sherlock. No one had figured out why most of the frist psots suck. Your powers of observation are great. You would make a killing working for H&R block with your amazing deductions.

Re:Simply put.. (2, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#42590665)

So what is your excuse then?

Re:Simply put.. (-1, Troll)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#42590723)

The point is of arrogance of the computer industry... only programmers can think like a computer...and they are gods...

Re:Simply put.. (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#42590771)

There was no point. It was all in your head. The "point" was never stated or implied.

Re:Simply put.. (-1, Troll)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#42590801)

the programmer gods are expected tyo go into denial.... its obvious to the rest of us.

Re:Simply put.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590955)

Please stop referring to yourself in plural. Only the Queen and we, Anonymous Coward, are allowed to do that.

Re:Simply put.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590743)

Great job, Sherlock. No one had figured out why most of the frist psots suck. Your powers of observation are great. You would make a killing working for H&R block with your amazing deductions.

Ha! Deductions! Because it conflates logical deductions with tax deductions!

That was classic.

Re:Simply put.. (3, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#42590617)

Not necessarily: The best human chess players can beat the not-best computer chess programs.

Re:Simply put.. (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#42590633)

The point of the article is a bit different. If you win using a computer then you are cheating.

Not sure if Big blue or whatever is the top chess computer by now consistently wins over top chess players, but at least not long ago humans used to consistently win over computers, so winning against computers is (still) not cheating per se.

Re:Simply put.. (1)

ipwndk (1898300) | about a year ago | (#42590707)

It is mathematically proven to be unsolveable within finite time, as the problem is in class NP.

BUT, within AI, the latest techniques most probably always wins over a human with a statistical significance that could be concidered "solved". (Albeit, for purity, I think it should always be concidered unsolveable - almost always, and always are two different things, even in infinity)

- AI geek

(Btw, Deep Blue is ANCIENT, it used rule-based AI ffs)

Re:Simply put.. (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42590805)

It is mathematically proven to be unsolveable within finite time, as the problem is in class NP.

No. No it is not. I am not sure where you got this, but chess is easily solvable in finite time. It is a simple tree search but incredibly massive. My desktop, given enough time and a massive increase in memory, could solve chess. Granted the memory would take up a planet the size of Saturn and the time would run into issues with the heat death of the universe, but this is much different than being "unsolvable within finite time".

Re:Simply put.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590947)

Yes, it certainly is in class NP, as is every finite game. It's just that the GP is a moron who doesn't understand what NP is (hint: P is a subset of it).

Re:Simply put.. (5, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#42591121)

It is mathematically proven to be unsolveable within finite time

Every game ends in a finite number of moves, therefore the permutation of all games is also finite.

Re:Simply put.. (5, Interesting)

MrMickS (568778) | about a year ago | (#42590637)

If you win against a computer you are cheating

I thought it was more if you win playing the same moves that a computer would make you are cheating.

This presupposes that computers play chess differently to humans. My understanding with chess is that there are certain 'stock' moves, openings and such like, that players memorize and use to their advantage. What if someone has set up positions and studied a computer response to those positions or play, would repeating the learned computer moves be the equivalent of cheating? What impact does an eidetic memory have on this where a person is able recall those positions and moves exactly?

The idea that there was some undetected cheating mechanism at play in the case in the article seems to go against the principle of Occam's Razor. The simplest solution to the issue is that either Ivanov just had a great tournament, or that his opponents played into situations for which he'd prepared with the aid of a computer, or a combination of the two. Such appears to be the level of mistrust in chess though that this simple solution is dismissed in search of something more fantastical.

Re:Simply put.. (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42590745)

I thought it was more if you win playing the same moves that a computer would make you are cheating.

In the old days, beyond student level, you had to play against tough human opponents to grind out experience, slowly learn to play like your human opponents, and with any luck you'd advance beyond your human trainers.

In the new day, because the computers are the strongest players and always available etc, you'll grind your experience out against a computer, slowly learn to play like your computer opponents, and with any luck you'll advance beyond the programmers of your computer trainers.

It seems inevitable that in a couple generations human chess will look "computer" to a current player.

Re:Simply put.. (1)

ipwndk (1898300) | about a year ago | (#42590747)

Also, these moves, which can be equated to "experience", is often fed to the computer by a human.

Modern techniques often uses a mix of random chance, adaption, human fed experience, statistical experience etc.

Hence it'll play "humanly", it'll play "ruley", it'll play "alien"... Maybe that can be concidered "computery". But there is overlaps with humans in the "humanly" department, and if humans study statistically proven moves, then there's more... Etc.

Re:Simply put.. (5, Interesting)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about a year ago | (#42590881)

If you win against a computer you are cheating

I thought it was more if you win playing the same moves that a computer would make you are cheating.

This presupposes that computers play chess differently to humans. My understanding with chess is that there are certain 'stock' moves, openings and such like, that players memorize and use to their advantage. What if someone has set up positions and studied a computer response to those positions or play, would repeating the learned computer moves be the equivalent of cheating? What impact does an eidetic memory have on this where a person is able recall those positions and moves exactly?

I can comment a bit at this. I used to play in chess tournaments in my state some years ago. I was at a very low level in most of them. To put it in simple terms, I was about as far away in talent from the best players in my state (not my country or the world, but just my state) as I could be. I gave up playing chess because bluntly put, computers ruined it. You are right that players memorize openings. The list of known openings and known variations of those openings is staggering. Honestly, it's more than most people can memorize. Back in the 1990s when I played, it was unusual for a known opening to go beyond maybe 7 or so moves before you "got out of book" as they put it and responses started to deviate from known ones. Keep in mind that while you could always deviate very early from known responses, the odds of such being successful were quite low as if the move was really any good, it would already be known. Now add to this the knowledge that since white moves first, he controls the game. So if I as a player think "I'm really hoping white opens with e4 as I've been dying to try out the black side of this variation of the Ruy Lopez", white may open with d4, destroying my chance to defend an e4 opening. Even if white opens with e4 as I hope, on his 2nd move he may prevent the Ruy Lopez variation that I wanted to play. So you can see that what you have to learn is quite enormous because when you play black,you have to be prepared for all kinds of openings that you may not ever play when you have the white pieces.

Computer analysis took to openings to deeper levels of known good responses. So an opening that used to be maybe 7 moves long before you got out of book was now 13-14 moves long. At some point it just becomes impossible to keep up. To be honest with you, I put a lot of time into trying to improve and I really didn't make much progress. It was already tough enough for me to keep up before computers got involved and I just gave up as I felt like I was getting left further and further behind. To be honest with you, a lot of the tournaments weren't much fun. A lot of the guys who showed up to them were really weird. It made me question whether I really wanted to spend a lot of time getting better at something that attracted defective people to it. It's not unheard of for guys to be exceptionally good at chess and be homeless because they can't keep a job. Fischer himself was a genius player but if there was ever a crazier World Champion than him, I don't know who that would be.

Re:Simply put.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590977)

It seems pretty obvious upon RTFA that this guy is likely to have cheated.

One of Ivanov’s losses was in a long game in a closed position (the kind where computers perform poorly), and at the end, Ivanov made a rudimentary mistake. It stood out because of how well he had played in the other games. The other loss was in the penultimate round, when the organizers, as a precaution, stopped broadcasting the games on the Internet so that people outside the playing hall could not try to assist the players.

Please mod this post up so other people can see it -- I'm sorry I don't have an account and I'm late for work.

Re:Simply put.. (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about a year ago | (#42591001)

I knew some good youth players back in the days (I'm talking early '90s, elo ranking around 2000), and of course they analyzed their opponents previous games with Fritz (best Chess program at that time) to see how to play these guys. That's hardly cheating, it's just a tool in getting better (as long as you don't use it during the game ;-)). Mind that those people know how to play. Even the supposed 'cheater' has an elo ranking of >2200. That's already pretty damn good. It's not like this guy would suddenly start sucking if his 'cheating channel' falls out. Even a tiny board advantage at that level is critical (hell it was already critical at 1600 level).

Closed Room + Faraday Cage (4, Insightful)

Luthair (847766) | about a year ago | (#42590567)

Done.

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (5, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#42590659)

You'd be surprised where you can stick a Raspberry Pi, you really would.

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590695)

Pi is stronger than GM?

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590871)

When it has 30 minutes to think, it probably is...

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year ago | (#42590705)

we don't need details from your sex life

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590779)

Maybe you could make a horror based on it.

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590897)

Drag Me To Shell?
32 shades of grey?

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590799)

I would be more surprised if that Raspberry Pi were able to play chess at strong Grandmaster level in real-time.

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42591137)

You'd also be amazed at what you can stick into a Raspberry Pie.

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (5, Insightful)

pellik (193063) | about a year ago | (#42590719)

While there may come a day when this is necessary, we're far from that point now.

The man suspected of cheating in the article was relying on analysis being performed somewhere outside of the tournament hall, which was then broadcast to him. This was enabled by having the moves of all the games broadcast live over the internet (which normal for tournaments like this). When they suspected him of cheating they disabled the broadcast, and he blundered predictably. It seems that all they need to stop this kind of cheating is a simple one or two move delay on the broadcast of games.

The economics of chess mean there isn't enough prize money to cover the cost of very sophisticated methods of cheating at the rank-and-file tournaments. There is money for the top 10 players in the world, so if cheating spreads that far maybe a faraday cage will show practical application.

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590855)

Faraday CageMatch!

Re:Closed Room + Faraday Cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42591101)

Faraday cages aren't 100% (the more that's blocked, the more expensive and difficult to make), so depending on how much glory or money can be made in chess, someone could plausibly find a way still.

Did they give him an anal probe? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#42590575)

A simple wireless enabled butt plug and knowledge of Morse code or similar encoding is all that would be required. Unless they scanned the entire frequency spectrum and found nothing, meaning that nobody in the room had an electronic device that radiates, then my good friend Occam thinks this is likely to be the answer.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (1, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year ago | (#42590669)

Cheating at chess requires two-way transmission of information.

Your suggested wireless enabled anal probe allows transmission of coded data to the chess player who is cheating. But how does the remote computer know what move the cheater's opponent made? You must also describe a mechanism whereby the cheating chess player is able to transmit the opponent's move back to the remote computer.

It is possible there could be an accomplice. Or a hidden camera.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#42590713)

No. I don't need to describe that since there were witnesses who were not searched, and the latter part of your post was clearly implied. My only "error" was in not stating the obvious, thereby opening myself up to a response from some DickBreath*

* Modders: Before you mod me down, look at the parent posters SlashID

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (1)

pellik (193063) | about a year ago | (#42590777)

Searching the spectators would hardly be relevant. Spectators are generally not allowed to use electronic devices in the tournament hall. If someone was coming in, looking at a board, and walking out every move the tournament directors would notice and investigate. Chess tournaments usually have a small army of directors.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#42590803)

So searching the player for electronics devices is relevant, but searching the spectators isn't? I think you need to re-think that.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42590835)

Depends on your venue. In the United States, chess runs a bit more lean and mean. A state tournament I participated in had less that one director observing per section. There actually have been cases of collusion to cheat using electronic devices and "observers". All it takes is an observer whispering the moves in a microphone to someone on the other end, and then signals back to the player. You'd only need to do it in critical position. Two or three key moves in a game would be enough to tip the balance in many cases.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590729)

Pressure sensor and lots of clenching

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590735)

You obviously haven't seen the iPlug.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42590751)

It is possible there could be an accomplice. Or a hidden camera.

Or a live studio audience member with a smartphone.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590851)

You ever try to squeeze up an impending movement? The butt plug could be programmed to respond to muscle movements.

I'm just saying... It's possible.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (3, Informative)

b.emile (1222958) | about a year ago | (#42590951)

The NYT article [nytimes.com] linked from TFA clearly states that the tournament was broadcast live on the internet, and this fellow lost due to a rudimentary mistake in the last round when the organizers switched off the live broadcast, which lends some credence to the OP's suggestion. As another poster stated, a 1 or 2 move delay in the live broadcast would mitigate this issue.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#42591165)

But how does the remote computer know what move the cheater's opponent made? You must also describe a mechanism whereby the cheating chess player is able to transmit the opponent's move back to the remote computer.

Dead simple. The moves were broadcast in real time on the internet by the game organisers. This is apparently a common practice for chess tournaments, just as it is for sports. And we can be pretty sure that that's the way that this part of the cheating was done, because in the penultimate game they switched off the internet broadcast, and that was one of the two games which the cheat lost.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590689)

Oh my! I've suddenly developed a keen interest in playing chess.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (2)

pellik (193063) | about a year ago | (#42590741)

They didn't really even perform a strip search. He voluntarily removed his shirt and they checked his pockets. A crotched phone would have sufficed.

Re:Did they give him an anal probe? (2)

dissy (172727) | about a year ago | (#42591173)

He was playing at a 3000 level, and suspected of cheating. So they disabled the live internet broadcast of the game, and suddenly he was playing at barely above a 2000 level.

If you wish to claim he was not cheating, you still need to explain away how he was playing so well when and only when the game was being broadcast live over the internet, and was playing so poorly once the feed was disabled.

The fact he was cheating is clear by that alone. Disabling a live internet feed that you yourself are not watching should have exactly zero effect on your game performance. In his case it had a major effect on his game performance.

The question isn't IF he was cheating, but how.

Cheating techniques ... (-1, Troll)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#42590585)

There are techniques in cheating, easy to apply and safe from proof that can be applied in all fields of interest.
This is made possible by the world of abstraction, where our abstract tools are intentionally wrongly used.
And what makes up a computer program flow but abstraction.

Re:Cheating techniques ... (1, Offtopic)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#42590615)

uh... is it jesus?

Re:Cheating techniques ... (0)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#42590693)

Re:Cheating techniques ... (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#42590819)

okay... that article is worthless, but googling around it seems that `neocheating' is just regular cheating with some NLP-type confidence nonsense thrown in. nice racket, i'm sure there are self-proclaimed experts giving seminars on this crap. could you give me one example of neocheating which is materially distinct from regular cheating?

Re:Cheating techniques ... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#42590957)

How exactly do you think that card manipulations tricks, collusion, and information sharing can help you cheat in a game of chess - in which there are no cards, there is no hidden information, and there are only two players?

Re:Cheating techniques ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42591129)

I think I understand ... does it have something to do with the time cube?

Innocent until proven guilty... (2)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about a year ago | (#42590605)

It is possible that the chess equivalent of a lower-league football player could find incredible reserves of concentration and mental clarity for the first time in his career. It is equally possible that he could have solicited help in some imaginative form-
Take athletics as an example - an athlete who improves their personal best performances year on year has not yet reached their peak. But if they improve too much in one year, then the suspicion of drug-assistance is raised and they can be tested for that. Sometimes, the athlete is guilty, but the drug is so new that their tests return a negative result, so they are allowed to continue competing. Subsequent improvements in the test process allow for re-evaluation and retesting, and retrospective bans.
However, with a chess match, no such retrospective action can be taken because if the person cheated and was not caught, how are the invigilators (referees) going to retest? Was the cheating mechanism some kind of visual signal from the audience? If an audience is allowed to live-observe the games, you can have cameras on them, so that can be tested. But just about any other option involves the accused having some kind of signal receiver on their person, and that is not something that can be checked reliably retrospectively.
So if they are accused on the spot, then the onus must be on the accuser to prove the accusation on the spot. No proof? Then not guilty, resume the games.

Re:Innocent until proven guilty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590675)

Is there a drug that improves mental clarity and memory?
Something like NZT from Limitless?
If so, I want some.

Re:Innocent until proven guilty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42591041)

No proof? Then not guilty, resume the games.

Here's where the gray area occurs (and this is mentioned in the article).

If a statistical analysis concludes that the odds of this person beating these grandmasters is 1 in a million, does that constitute proof of cheating?

Enron was undone by statistical analyses of their accounting records. It was shown that the probability of the transactions which were being reported by Enron occurring randomly (within the scale of a large sample, i.e. the marketplace) was tiny. Hence, the transactions in Enron's books were not occurring randomly - they were being manipulated.

I'm inclined to believe that extremely strong statistical evidence of this nature is proof. At the very least, it should be grounds for an investigation. The person can then demonstrate their newfound skillin more controlled conditions - or be found out as cheaters.

Re:Innocent until proven guilty... (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#42591169)

It is possible that the chess equivalent of a lower-league football player could find incredible reserves of concentration and mental clarity for the first time in his career. It is equally possible that he could have solicited help in some imaginative form-

It's possible to have an outlier game but it's very, very unlikely in an activity like chess. A lot of the research into how grand masters learn and play shows that there is an amazing amount of (sub-conscious) memorization taking place. For example, show a grand master a board from a tournament for a split second and they will be able to recreate it from memory without a problem. Show them a board of equal complexity that was randomly generated (i.e. not a position that would ever occur in a real game) and they perform barely any better than an average person. The idea that someone would have a massive, temporary jump in playing ability is pretty farfetched. Especially when the math shows that he was playing at a level rarely, if ever, seen in human players before or since.

Some possibilities.... (5, Interesting)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#42590619)

What if they are not cheating? Some possibilities:
1 -- they learned chess mostly/exclusively by playing against a machine rather than against human opponents. Then their strategy would mostly be informed by or similar to the type of gameplay which they have observed kicking their own ass as they learned to play. Thus they might "play like a computer" because they have internalized the computer's algorithms as they learned to play chess.
2 -- they randomly play chess in manners that appear like a computer's algorithms. In fact, hey, when they say that the person's moves closely mirror the moves a computer would make, shouldn't they specify which computer program/algorithm they mean for making chess moves? If you're running gnu/linux, you can play Xboard ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xboard [wikipedia.org] ) as the front-end (visual GUI) with multiple possible engines [wikipedia.org] driving it underneath (such as Gnu chess [wikipedia.org] ). You can even run Xboard to provide a running analysis of a game being played by others as you enter the moves played (see the man pages for analysis options). Different engines would probably come up with different moves/styles of play, right? So saying that a person's moves and play style mirror a computer is an insufficiently detailed accusation. The chess engine being suspected ought to be specified and indicated, in my opinion.
3 -- yes it is strange that someone with a normally low rating would suddenly get so far against a grand-master, and yes it is less suspicious when that happens with a yougner player, but why couldn't it occur with an adult player? Suspicion is just suspicion, not evidence.
4 -- there is a comment in the article about using Faraday cages at the match in order to decrease the risk for cheating. Remember that these days computers are very small, smaller than a deck of cards (yes, fancy phone in your pocket, I'm talking about you being as powerful as a supercomputer from the 1970s or 1980s). They could rig a fancy interface for their toes and have a shoe computer for all that you know.
5 -- is this all fallout from the pete rose type stuff, or because of lance armstrong from yesterday?
.
:>)
A cheating scandal in chess. Wowza.

Re:Some possibilities.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590761)

While computers are very small, a deck-of-cards computer wouldn't get you very far at masters level. Top computer programs will reguarly beat top players but they require massive amounts of processing power, you wouldn't be able to get a phone sized computer to play at this level in anything approaching real time.

Re:Some possibilities.... (2)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#42590809)

re a deck-of-cards computer wouldn't get you very far at masters level...
.
Good point. The article is a lot more about another article that K.W. Regan has written about "Measuring Fidelity to a Computer Agent" (which sounds more like spies mindlessly following Dear Leader ;>) rather than about a chess-playing agent) at http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~regan/chess/fidelity/ [buffalo.edu] which has some interesting links I have not followed yet.
.
Regan even concedes the point I made above by stating in the third paragraph:
a move that is given a clear standout evaluation by a program is much more likely to be found by a strong human player.

In other words, a decent player at a point in a game with limited options may just as likely come to the same conclusion or move that a computerized algorithm evaluates to be the best. And that is insufficient evidence for cheating. I mean, if "you're in a twisty maze and the passage only goes 30 degrees to the right or back where you came from" since time only moves forward in chess, you go 30 degrees to the right. Sometimes the game or board position strongly constrains what your next move is going to be.

Re:Some possibilities.... (5, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42590765)

I play chess at the tournament level, and have played computer chess since the early 80's when the things were little more than jokes.

You simply cannot internalize the chess computer's algorithms. Believe it or not computers suck at chess and positional understanding. I did an experiment where I played a series of games against Fritz. I gave myself infinite time, sometimes taking 30-40 minutes per moves. I am not a titled player, but am above average for a tournament player. I did very well against Fritz when I had time to make sure my calculations were solid and found many times that Fritz really misevaluated the position. In one case, it insisted that it was up by 1.5 pawns but after 6 or 7 normal humans moves that a "C" player would have found, Fritz realized it was actually slightly worse.

Put a computer in a closed position and it flounders. The computer does not understand a position, it simply has a fairly decent evaluation engine combined with the ability to see every stinking possibility. It does not get tired. It does not have the emotional baggage that sometimes makes chess mistakes.

The computers understanding (evaluation) of a position is perhaps FIDE (ELO) 2000. It's calculation ability is perhaps FIDE 4000. Combine the two, and you get a "person" capable of FIDE 3000 chess. Give a grandmaster more time, and you tip the balance to the positional understanding rather than the raw calculation speed.

So now you get to the point about "internalizing" the chess moves is simply not possible. Put a computer in a complex Queen vs Rook ending, and you will see the computer play moves that a human just would never do. It isn't based on a few principles and understanding them. It is based on a 12 eyed monster seeing every stinking move possible 12-14 plies deep. Computers revolutionized our understanding of this endgame and many more.

Beyond the endgame, there are many points in a chess game where you can tell a computer made a move. First, the move objectively works, but does not fit any type of theme, or normal principle of the game. It isn't simply a good or even great move, it isn't that it just doesn't make sense immediately but rather it doesn't fit any framework of human understanding.

So, yes, I am convinced that you can pick up on cheating based upon a series of moves given the right circumstances.

And no, this is nothing new. Cheating has gone on in chess for decades. Computers have just made it easier for the non-elite to cheat.

Re:Some possibilities.... (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year ago | (#42590903)

Even the author of the paper, KW Regan, concedes in his third paragraph that at certain board positions or at certain points in a game, alpha-beta pruning or the chess engines will come to the same "desired move" as a good human player would:
a move that is given a clear standout evaluation by a program is much more likely to be found by a strong human player.

from http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~regan/chess/fidelity/ [buffalo.edu] : Measuring fidelity to a computer agent

Re:Some possibilities.... (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42591003)

Did you actually read my response?

Of course there are points where a human will coincide with a computer. In fact in most cases this will be true. But there are points in a game where there is a wide disparity.

A couple questions for you: Do you play chess? Have you played in a tournament? A nationally rated tournament? Played against computers at top level? Written an algorithm for computer chess? I've done all the above and though I admit I am not a master of chess, I understand how one determines someone is cheating. You cannot catch 100% of cheaters, but some situations are so absurd that you can say with 99.999% certainty that someone is cheating. Momentary periods of lucidity are not cheating. Series of moves from an amateur player that are not only brilliant but computer like are clear cheating.

irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590989)

All of this is irrelevant, because in the end, the computer makes a move against a particular position, and if it's effective, you can learn from it. It doesn't matter how it came up with the move. And if the computer is all you learn from, you're going to play like it.

That you can not internalize the algorithm does not mean you cannot internalize the moves.

Computers have just made it easier for the non-elite to cheat.

Ah, so that's what this is about.

Re:irrelevant (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42591047)

If you can internalize calculating every possible move several plies deep, then you are right. But no human can, so you are wrong. My bet is you have never played more than a casual game of chess and don't understand how humans play chess or how computers do. They are two entirely different phenomenon.

Re:Some possibilities.... (2)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#42591011)

I also play chess at tournament level and respectfully disagree. Many grandmasters make moves that are unintuitive, such as Fischer, and I do not see how you could distinguish a very good computer's move from a grandmaster. I analyzed the game here: http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/bulgarian-chess-player-strip-searched-after-suspection-of-cheating [chessvibes.com] and could point out some interesting moves, but nothing that rang out as a computer move.

From my own experience playing chess online, I end up losing on purpose to see if a person is cheating with a program. I'll allow fools mate to happen to me twice in a row, where any normal chess player would let it pass the second time, the chess program will always take the quickest mate.

Re:Some possibilities.... (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#42591083)

I can point you to players like IM Jeremy Silman who routinely points out that a move is a "computer move" in his books. Go play a computer in a Q v R endgame with you up the Queen. It will outplay any Grandmaster. There are many open positions where a computer will play moves that a GM would not even consider.

And who in the world would pass up fool's mate? It is a checkmate on the second move and I have no idea how this is some type of proof of a computer program?

Re:Some possibilities.... (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#42591163)

I guess you didn't understand my point about losing to fools mate. A person can pass it up, a computer program cannot.

Q v R endgame is a bad example, it is a known end game with a set pattern to win and I would assume all grandmasters know it. Although I do have trouble with it myself, but I am no grandmaster.

Re:Some possibilities.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42591039)

I get what you're saying but, your example of a famous endgame like Queen versus Rook is not a good choice IMHO. Because of it's infamy, both players have likely memorized it.

Re:Some possibilities.... (2)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#42591057)

wow, the first post by someone who knows what they're talking about. in contrast, i know almost nothing about chess, but something about statistics.

everyone should read the article. matching ivanov's moves to a computer's moves is only one test. the author of the article also has an algorithmic chess rating methodology he calls "intrinsic rating" which intends to estimate quality of play along the FIDE scale. it is, of course, flawed as any algorithm for this would be, but most importantly it is a fixed algorithm. he also has access to twenty years of games which he has evaluated for intrinsic rating. with reference to this historical dataset, he has estimated the odds of exhibiting such improvement as ivanov's at around 1,000,000:1. it doesn't matter, in principle, if his algorithm is "really" estimating quality (he admits that it doesn't, exactly); the point is, he has two tests which he developed before ivanov's match, and they each say that ivanov was an extreme outlier. i wish that he would be clearer on this point and give the actual numbers, but he seems to know what he's doing.

the author of the article admits the difficulties of this problem and the limitations of his approach, but he does make a fairly good case that something is going on.

Re:Some possibilities.... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about a year ago | (#42590781)

1. Some algorithms work by simply looking ahead at all possible move combinations by you and your opponent. It then determines a "score" based on the favor of the outcome in whichever player's direction. It may then, for each outcome or only for "favorable" ones, go down another turn for both players. Eventually it will select a move that results in the most "favorable" outcomes and the least "unfavorable" ones based on how the other player moves. This isn't something you can internalize as the computer has to handle thousands upon thousands of possible game states at once and compare them all. Of course this is largely brute forcing but it is also guaranteed to give you better solutions the more turns it thinks ahead.

Re:Some possibilities.... (5, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | about a year ago | (#42590787)

What if they are not cheating? Some possibilities:

But they pretty much know he was by the evidence, it's only _how_ that is unknown.

He was playing much much higher than his ranking should normally permit. They suspected the internet broadcast of the game was being analyzed and moves sent back to him somehow.
So, they disabled the internet broadcast. From that point forward, he made mistakes over and over, much more in line with his ranking.

It wasn't just his unexpected high performance, but also the expected drop in performance once the internet broadcast of the game was disabled.

The Wikipedia Effect on writing? (1)

tarc (2793789) | about a year ago | (#42590671)

3 paragraphs in and I'm already annoyed by the excessive and awkward hyperlinking, e.g. linking to chessprofessionals.org via the word "the".

Sounds like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590673)

Someone is just butthurt over loosing and fishing for an excuse.

RF Neural Interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590691)

Stick him in a Faraday cage and not just any cage. Something that has at least 180dB attenuation from 100Khz-300Ghz and demonstrates solid resistance to both pulse and continuous wave modulation. That cage would need to be tested against an ultra-wide band radar system. Let's see if he performs as well under those conditions.

Re:RF Neural Interface (2)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42590769)

Too limited. Needs to block light.

Blocking Signaling (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#42590907)

Plenty of above-audible and below-audible bandwidth below 100 khz as well.

Then some wag will get a quantum link going, doesn't use EM at all, and so much for the Faraday cage.

And so it goes.

clever+dead sport (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42590701)

First, if a player is so clever that cheating can't be detected in situ, but only after the fact by statistical analysis, then there is nothing that can done. I read the article a few days ago, and this is what I came away with. That they have some vague idea that the wins are statistically unlikely, but if there is process that can be shown to facilite the cheating, then you are going to have matches and ranking determined by statistical algorithm, not competition.

In any case one end up with a competition that is ultimately going to be destroyed by technology. Computers can play better than humans, so it is going to be all about who can outplay the computer. Like some many sports, it is not going to be who is the best, but who can be shown to be good, but not too good, as that would indicated cheating.

It is really pointless because in the real world we don't focus on who suceeds under lab conditions and with an arbitrary set of rules. It is who succeeds without causes excessive damage.

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ronusiah (2816103) | about a year ago | (#42590775)

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you must obey! (-1)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year ago | (#42590785)

Apparently, in chess circles, unless your rating exceeds your opponent, you must loose. If you don't, you must be cheating.

The problem with cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590825)

I just want to point out the obvious problem with cheating. If you cheat, you find yourself in positions where you are increasingly likely to need to cheat. The more you do it the more obvious it should be because you're going to be playing against people that are out of your league.

Solution (3, Funny)

Eisenfaust (231128) | about a year ago | (#42590869)

Hold the tournament on a commercial airliner that repeatedly takes off and lands. Certainly if someone on board the plane was using an electronic device during take off or landing something terrible would happen ;)

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42590973)

or in vegas at a high stakes blackjack table.

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