The Nepo Shuffle -- The 2021 World Chess Championship

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Magnus’ statement seems to suggest he was predisposed to believe Neimann was a cheater and then went on tilt during their game.

I think it is pretty clear though that Magnus and Chess.com probably do have strong evidence of additional cheating.

We will never know but I think my interpretation here is that Magnus knew there was a past cheater, and that affected his play. But there probably was no over the board cheating. And now Magnus wants some system so that he is not suspicious every time he plays. No idea what that could be.

Fairness seems to require a high burden, but a high burden too high seems to threaten the emotional aspects of the game that really matter at the highest levels over the board. An existential threat indeed.
 

Deathofthebambino

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How do people think Niemann is cheating in an OTB match? They are scanning for RFID chips, etc. How could he pull it off?

I don't really play much chess anymore, but when I did, I just assumed everyone online was cheating and viewed the game as such. But OTB? How would he do it?

Next time they are paired together, Niemann should come out and tell Magnus that they are both playing in their smallest tighty whities, and nothing else.
 

SumnerH

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How do people think Niemann is cheating in an OTB match? They are scanning for RFID chips, etc. How could he pull it off?

I don't really play much chess anymore, but when I did, I just assumed everyone online was cheating and viewed the game as such. But OTB? How would he do it?

Next time they are paired together, Niemann should come out and tell Magnus that they are both playing in their smallest tighty whities, and nothing else.
https://illuminati-magic.com/products/thumper is completely invisible to scans until you turn it on (it's a signalling device magicians use in stage shows), thin enough to hide in the sole of a shoe or similar. There are plenty of cheaper passive receivers that wouldn't trigger an EM scan that could pick up a simple morse-code type signal, too.

You don't need such tech, though.

Naroditsky discussed this early on, saying it's pretty easy in theory. At that level, cheating doesn't mean that you're getting every move relayed; even just being signaled once or twice a game that “hey, this is a critical moment where there's a single winning/losing move” would suffice to sway the outcome.

At the 2011 Olympiad, the French team captain got texts from someone off-site using an engine to analyze (he'd leave the hall to check his texts), and once or twice a game would stand behind the first row of chairs if the right move was on the A file, the second row if it was on the B file, etc. He's walking around the hall normally, it's almost impossible to notice that stopping at certain locations is signalling moves. You'd have to control all the spectator's phones to prevent that.

And Danya talks about stepping out on the balcony during a game and realizing that you could easily have a companion in the parking lot giving you sign language or similar from their car (without ever passing through security).

The kind of signalling patterns that casino cheats use would largely work, as well.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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At that level, cheating doesn't mean that you're getting every move relayed; even just being signaled once or twice a game that “hey, this is a critical moment where there's a single winning/losing move” would suffice to sway the outcome.
Fabi also yesterday mentioned on the c-squared podcast that the level of information that a super GM needs to gain a major advantage is extremely modest. He said just knowing if you're ahead or behind would make an incredible difference in a match. That kind of makes sense -- since so much of tournament play is about trying to decide whether to press for a win or trying to defend for a half point.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

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View attachment 55897

From the original "Mission: Impossible" series-that dude (Martin Landau?) had a tiny earpiece and they had a computer that was feeding him the moves.

Would it take a computer to cheat at the level being suggested? I know nothing about chess at this level-how good would someone have to be to offer assistance that was useful?
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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View attachment 55897

From the original "Mission: Impossible" series-that dude (Martin Landau?) had a tiny earpiece and they had a computer that was feeding him the moves.

Would it take a computer to cheat at the level being suggested? I know nothing about chess at this level-how good would someone have to be to offer assistance that was useful?
The only humans that could offer assistance are pretty much the ones playing in these tournaments. I mean, two sets of eyes is always better than one, but the kind of cheating that is being discussed in this recent drama is computer assisted cheating.

There are a couple of computer programs that are far better than humans and basically unbeatable. They are pretty much ubiquitous. Anyone with a phone and free subscription has access to them and they are pretty much instant and real time. If you watch a major tournament, the commentators are usually showing the game on a video board that has an integrated computer engine analyzing the game and showing in real time the status of both players. They could turn on a feature that would show them the optimal move in any circumstance, which most of the time gets calculated in about 4 to 10 seconds after the prior move.

Having a player cheat by being fed moves by a computer and making them all would be pretty easy to detect eventually. Computers do things that humans don't. There are some telltales.

But as noted you really don't need to be fed moves to be able to use a computer to win. One or two critical pieces of information can change the game. If a player over the board had a confederate that knew chess, and could communicate with the player, it could be very simple. Just a couple of clicks in a three hour game would allow someone who is already very good to get an unfair advantage over the best players in the world. If the confederate were sophisticated enough to understand when the right moment was it wouldn't take very much at all. The margins are very thin.
 

SumnerH

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Would it take a computer to cheat at the level being suggested? I know nothing about chess at this level-how good would someone have to be to offer assistance that was useful?
Against Magnus, they'd have to be very good. But 2 GMs vs. Magnus definitely have better chances than 1 GM on his own.

But a computer is the obvious solution.

For those who are still thinking about Deep Blue supercomputers playing Kasparov in the 90s, things have changed: your smartphone running freely available engines will absolutely crush any human player.

Magnus is hoping to someday be the first human to reach an Elo rating of 2900 (only 14 players have ever exceeded 2800; 2500 is grandmaster level—Kasparov's peak of 2851 was the best before Magnus, who's reached 2882). The better computer engines are rated well over 3000 running on an iPhone, I believe over 3300 these days, and would crush Carlsen even if they started down a pawn.
 

SumnerH

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Salomeja Zaksaite, a criminologist whose most recent publication was in May: Anti-cheating protection measures in chess: current state of play
Klaus Deventer, an international chess arbiter, lawyer, and player who's headed up anti-cheating protocols at various tournaments.
Vincent Geeraets, a sports ethicist who's specialized in the ethics of anti-doping regimes in the past.

The FIDE panel that will be investigating Hans and Magnus.

The focus of the investigation would be twofold: checking the World Champion's claims of alleged cheating by Niemann and Niemann's self-statement regarding online cheating.
https://www.fide.com/news/2015
 

Bread of Yaz

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FIDE couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if it was standing in front of it. I have little confidence it will generate anything useful.
 

SumnerH

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/chess-cheating-hans-niemann-report-magnus-carlsen-11664911524

Just posted...it's paywalled, but I'm now watching Gotham's video about the article.

This is weird:
The 72-page report also flagged what it described as irregularities in Niemann’s rise through the elite ranks of competitive, in-person chess. It highlights “many remarkable signals and unusual patterns in Hans’ path as a player.”

While it says Niemann’s improvement has been “statistically extraordinary.” Chess.com noted that it hasn’t historically been involved with cheat detection for classical over-the-board chess, and it stopped short of any conclusive statements about whether he has cheated in person. Still, it pointed to several of Niemann’s strongest events, which it believes “merit further investigation based on the data.” FIDE, chess’s world governing body, is conducting its own investigation into the Niemann-Carlsen affair.
Seems like chess.com may be out over their skis getting into analyzing in-person events, but they're suggesting they see irregularities there.

In their wheelhouse, though, they note that Niemann cheated on their site more recently than he's admitted to (in the press conference where he claimed to be coming completely clean):

It adds that he was 17 years old during the most recent violations, which subsequently led Chess.com to close his account.
Their evidence is more than just statistical:

The letter added that Niemann’s suspicious moves coincided with moments when he had opened up a different screen on his computer—implying that he was consulting a chess engine for the best move.

“We are prepared to present strong statistical evidence that confirm each of those cases above, as well as clear ‘toggling’ vs ‘non-toggling’ evidence, where you perform much better while toggling to a different screen during your moves,” Rensch wrote.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Someone recently -- maybe Danya -- mentioned the toggling issue. It was during one of those very long streams that he posts on youtube sometimes and he said something before he mentioned it about having inside information into chess.com's cheat detection methods. I don't remember exactly what he said, but what I took away from it was that chess.com did not want to come out publicly with its formulas for toggle evidence and maybe even not mention the issue at all, but that it felt compelled to in response to this situation, at which point Danya (or whoever it was) felt more comfortable talking about it even though it might give information to would-be cheaters about how to evade detection.

There have been rumblings and a statement about Neimann not being candid in the statement he made about the extent of his cheating. I guess if he lied in a public interview and pretended to come clean when he wasn't really coming clean, he gets zero benefit of the doubt. Still, this has a bit of a whiff of pile on to me. It's hard to know what to believe -- but if the article is correct that he has cheated over 100 times then I guess I understand Carlsen's position.

Edit: And a pretty big question. Who leaked this to the WSJ and why did they do it? That is somewhat troubling.
 

Bread of Yaz

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Someone recently -- maybe Danya -- mentioned the toggling issue. It was during one of those very long streams that he posts on youtube sometimes and he said something before he mentioned it about having inside information into chess.com's cheat detection methods. I don't remember exactly what he said, but what I took away from it was that chess.com did not want to come out publicly with its formulas for toggle evidence and maybe even not mention the issue at all, but that it felt compelled to in response to this situation, at which point Danya (or whoever it was) felt more comfortable talking about it even though it might give information to would-be cheaters about how to evade detection.

There have been rumblings and a statement about Neimann not being candid in the statement he made about the extent of his cheating. I guess if he lied in a public interview and pretended to come clean when he wasn't really coming clean, he gets zero benefit of the doubt. Still, this has a bit of a whiff of pile on to me. It's hard to know what to believe -- but if the article is correct that he has cheated over 100 times then I guess I understand Carlsen's position.

Edit: And a pretty big question. Who leaked this to the WSJ and why did they do it? That is somewhat troubling.
Report is out. Will not have a chance to review it for a couple days.

https://www.chess.com/blog/CHESScom/hans-niemann-report
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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It was a little more superficial than the "72-page" headlines suggest.

The data was interesting, but in the end you just have to sort of take their word for it that they have found him to have cheated in the games mentioned.

Levy has been good about his take on these issues but I found his recap of the WSJ article almost unwatchable. He makes a number of assumptions. Part of what is good about his channel is that you get him fairly unfiltered and he doesn't really prepare measured takes. But in this instance, he comes across as incoherent. He also falls into a fallacy where he assumes that if chess.com did not find cheating in a particular game, it means Hans didn't cheat. I think the opposite conclusion is probably true -- if we believe in their method then these are only the games they can say with a high degree of rigor that involved cheating. But given the scale it seems almost impossible to believe he did not cheat in many other games that don't quite rise to the "we gotcha" level of statistical certainty.

The most interesting things about the report are the attachments. They definitely promised Hans confidentiality and their method is to allow players to have a second chance if they come clean. They plainly broke their promise of confidentiality and have gone so far as to include all of his private communications with them (or many of them). As far as I can tell their only justification for that seems to be the fact that he stated things in an interview that they believe are lies. As a lawyer, that's pretty interesting to me. I think they are going to get away with it because fuck it he's a cheater and they can make a case that his lies put their reputation in question -- in an indirect way -- but that is not to say it's not pretty aggressive what they are doing here. I think they are motivated in part to defend Carlsen's actions.

The other most interesting thing about the report is that 4 top 100 players have also privately confessed to cheating to chess.com.

Edit -- I guess one other thing I'd note is that my respect for Danya as the best commentator and all around good guy in this space has only increased. He's given fairly measured takes, and I find him to isolate the issues that matter most very quickly and very easily. It turns out that Hans cheated against him in a money tournament. Danya is not a moron and so you know he probably knew it. Or at least he strongly suspected it. But there has really not been a trace of much of that in most of his commentary and if anything he has been out there about increasing security for Hans but also giving him the benefit of the doubt.
 
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Ed Hillel

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He’s gonna drop this lawsuit before discovery, but it’s almost a PR move he had to make.
 

SumnerH

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I love “With this, there is no other realistic chess competitor in sight (apart from the open-source and free Lichess platform)”. Android has a monopoly on smartphones! (apart from Apple).
 

Bread of Yaz

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Doesn't read like a complaint to me that will be dismissed fast.
Litigator here. Not a First Amendment lawyer but agree with you that the complaint appears to be well-pled. The problem for Hans is that he will carry the burden of proof on all elements of his claims. To prove slander he will need to show that it was a lie for Chess.com, Naka and Carlsen to say/imply that he cheated -- which means that he will need to prove that he didn't cheat. Providing that statements about objective facts are false can be straightforward (e.g., defendant says that plaintiff committed a murder and it can be shown who did commit it), but providing the falsity of a more nebulous statement about whether Hans' play was free from cheating will be a other matter for him altogether.

The hope likely is that Chess.com will not want to allow discovery about their cheating detection methods, situations where they have detected cheating and let others slide, etc and so will want to settle.
 

SumnerH

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Litigator here. Not a First Amendment lawyer but agree with you that the complaint appears to be well-pled. The problem for Hans is that he will carry the burden of proof on all elements of his claims. To prove slander he will need to show that it was a lie for Chess.com, Naka and Carlsen to say/imply that he cheated -- which means that he will need to prove that he didn't cheat.
There's also the fact that he's admitted he cheated in public press conferences. The statements are also about actions during a broadcast event he was playing in for public entertainment, so he's probably a public figure. Which means he not only has to prove that those parties said he cheated but that they said he cheated (a) after the point in time he's admitted to cheating and (b) they did so knowing that the statement was false or with reckless disregard for the truth.

And the latter gets a lot tougher when there's an admitted history of cheating over a multi-year span of time.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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If Magnus really stated that Hans cheated immediately after the game, I'm not sure he was a public figure and that could be slander. If I were plaintiff I would also argue that he's hardly famous and while perhaps a limited purpose figure, the reason that he became a public figure was the result of the very conspiracy that is alleged in the complaint and the defendants' own actions. The statements that he made were to attempt to manage the damage that the initial slander by the defendants had caused. You can't become a public figure just because the defamation takes place over a period of time in which you become famous for doing the thing you were falsely accused of doing. Magnus also very clearly implied that Hans cheated during their over the board game.

I also think chess.com went too far out on a limb. I posted my initial reaction to their report and their providing it to the Wall Street Journal. They seemed to think it was fine to go ahead reveal private information that they had told him was confidential simply because he had given an interview that they believed was not forthcoming enough. Their own report indicates that they have treated him differently from how they treat other cases like this, and while Hans has been brash and they can say that he brought it on himself, I think the lawyers are going to be able to make a case that they decided for some reason to carry Magnus's water on this. And while the complaint is filled with hyperbole, that actually strikes me as being something close to the truth. They could have quietly banned him and wrote him a letter. They could have written a report that said it was more probable than not that he cheated according to their statistical model; they were not in the business of making definitive statements but that in the end they were comfortable that he did not provide fair play on their platform. Instead they provoked a headline grabbing article, that said that he had cheated over 100 times.

One of the facts that really jumped out to me was that it's alleged in the complaint that in fact chess.com had not told Hans the basis for his cheating in "private correspondence," as they had alleged. While this seems like an innocuous fact among the more salacious allegations, I think it's very important. They definitely were trying to give the appearance that he lied on tv in the face of very clear evidence that had been privately provided to him, leading them no choice but to out him as a serial cheater.

If I were Nakamura I would be concerned. He went way way out on a limb. He was careless. He made all sorts of statements that they throw back at him where he implied he had inside information and had spoken to people, etc. These are verifiable factual statements and he better be right because when you set out to destroy someone's career, it's serious business. And make no mistake, chess.com, Nakamura and Carlsen did in fact destroy this kid's career and I don't doubt for a second that at least as to Carlsen and chess.com there are going to be documents. Bottom line is they better be right.

In the end the facts are going to matter. Did Hans really cheat in 100 online games that he lied about during an interview? If so, he's in trouble. If not, these guys are in trouble. I'm not entirely sure where to find it now but one thing I saw on youtube was Danya going through the games where chess.com concluded that Hans had cheated. Danya looked at them and was not really able to see things that looked suspicious to him. In some, Hans was like at 84 percent accuracy.

My belief all along has been that Hans is a cheater. But they really did crush this kid. And they seemed kind of careless and heavy handed about it. No lawyer in his right mind would have let Nakamura say the things he was saying very carelessly, lighting a brush fire.
 

SumnerH

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If Magnus really stated that Hans cheated immediately after the game, I'm not sure he was a public figure and that could be slander. If I were plaintiff I would also argue that he's hardly famous and while perhaps a limited purpose figure, the reason that he became a public figure was the result of the very conspiracy that is alleged in the complaint and the defendants' own actions.
On the flip side, I'd argue that he is someone who has 3 primary jobs, all of which put him in the public spotlight:

1) Playing chess in tournaments that are public events, paid for by advertising revenues predicated on the public nature of those events; and
2) Streaming publicly online for a general audience. https://new.uschess.org/news/chess-twitch-home-away-home (printed well before the controversy) notes that “During Naroditsky’s 28-15 match win over 11th grade National Champion and International Master Hans Niemann, Naroditsky listed 727 subscribers, 558 current viewers, and over one million total views.”
3) Serving as an on-air commentator for chess tournaments, including for Pogchamps 2 which had many million viewers.

He'd certainly been discussed and even featured in plenty of media long before the controversy.

niemann2.jpg
 

SumnerH

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Danya's post today is really instructive to someone at a low level:
View: https://youtu.be/9JUlD51s6zE


Also, I'll add John Bartholomew as a really great follow for people interested in improving, especially at the low levels (sub-Danya). He's incredibly good at explaining things in simple terms that work for 900-1500ish level players, IMO.

Daniel Naroditsky, Eric Rosen, GothamChess, and John Bartholomew are my 4 chess follows currently.
 

lars10

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If Magnus really stated that Hans cheated immediately after the game, I'm not sure he was a public figure and that could be slander. If I were plaintiff I would also argue that he's hardly famous and while perhaps a limited purpose figure, the reason that he became a public figure was the result of the very conspiracy that is alleged in the complaint and the defendants' own actions. The statements that he made were to attempt to manage the damage that the initial slander by the defendants had caused. You can't become a public figure just because the defamation takes place over a period of time in which you become famous for doing the thing you were falsely accused of doing. Magnus also very clearly implied that Hans cheated during their over the board game.

I also think chess.com went too far out on a limb. I posted my initial reaction to their report and their providing it to the Wall Street Journal. They seemed to think it was fine to go ahead reveal private information that they had told him was confidential simply because he had given an interview that they believed was not forthcoming enough. Their own report indicates that they have treated him differently from how they treat other cases like this, and while Hans has been brash and they can say that he brought it on himself, I think the lawyers are going to be able to make a case that they decided for some reason to carry Magnus's water on this. And while the complaint is filled with hyperbole, that actually strikes me as being something close to the truth. They could have quietly banned him and wrote him a letter. They could have written a report that said it was more probable than not that he cheated according to their statistical model; they were not in the business of making definitive statements but that in the end they were comfortable that he did not provide fair play on their platform. Instead they provoked a headline grabbing article, that said that he had cheated over 100 times.

One of the facts that really jumped out to me was that it's alleged in the complaint that in fact chess.com had not told Hans the basis for his cheating in "private correspondence," as they had alleged. While this seems like an innocuous fact among the more salacious allegations, I think it's very important. They definitely were trying to give the appearance that he lied on tv in the face of very clear evidence that had been privately provided to him, leading them no choice but to out him as a serial cheater.

If I were Nakamura I would be concerned. He went way way out on a limb. He was careless. He made all sorts of statements that they throw back at him where he implied he had inside information and had spoken to people, etc. These are verifiable factual statements and he better be right because when you set out to destroy someone's career, it's serious business. And make no mistake, chess.com, Nakamura and Carlsen did in fact destroy this kid's career and I don't doubt for a second that at least as to Carlsen and chess.com there are going to be documents. Bottom line is they better be right.

In the end the facts are going to matter. Did Hans really cheat in 100 online games that he lied about during an interview? If so, he's in trouble. If not, these guys are in trouble. I'm not entirely sure where to find it now but one thing I saw on youtube was Danya going through the games where chess.com concluded that Hans had cheated. Danya looked at them and was not really able to see things that looked suspicious to him. In some, Hans was like at 84 percent accuracy.

My belief all along has been that Hans is a cheater. But they really did crush this kid. And they seemed kind of careless and heavy handed about it. No lawyer in his right mind would have let Nakamura say the things he was saying very carelessly, lighting a brush fire.
Isn’t the basis for the cheating allegations that Hans played at an accuracy level that was beyond human accuracy?

I watch Gotham chess and Hikaru a lot (although I understand about half of what they’re talking about).. and Gotham seemed to think Magnus was being too harsh..

about ruining this guy’s career though.. he continued in the tournament and has since played other tournaments.. is there irreversible harm that has been done there? Im a novice.. so does not playing on chess.com seriously hurt his ability to build up his ranking?
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Isn’t the basis for the cheating allegations that Hans played at an accuracy level that was beyond human accuracy?

I watch Gotham chess and Hikaru a lot (although I understand about half of what they’re talking about).. and Gotham seemed to think Magnus was being too harsh..

about ruining this guy’s career though.. he continued in the tournament and has since played other tournaments.. is there irreversible harm that has been done there? Im a novice.. so does not playing on chess.com seriously hurt his ability to build up his ranking?
The Chess.com report -- for all it's reported length -- is a little bit light on details. One thing that they claim to have access to is toggle data, which means evidence that during the game there was toggling with another screen or program. Not sure how granular it is, but I suppose if you could time toggling between moves that showed a high degree of accuracy that could be pretty compelling. Beyond that, my read of the chess.com report was that it seemed to be trying to create an appearance of significant statistical robustness, but it was tough to parse it out.

What was pretty telling to me was a segment of one of Danya's twitter streams where Hikaru called him and they broke down several of the 10 games that chess.com said Hans cheated against Danya in. It is hard to find because they just put up all 4 hours of a twitch stream and it was in the middle of one. But you could kind of tell that they went in expecting to see something that was pretty compelling and really they found that Hans wasn't overly accurate and that neither of them could really see occasions of moves that did not seem like human moves. Danya did not remember the games as remarkable. But in the end they were kind of stuck concluding "well, chess.com must have some info we don't have." (That's not an actual quote.) If the guy you cheated against can't even see where it might have been, and your accuracy was merely above average, that to me starts to call into question the entire "100 games" narrative, and once you start asking questions about why chess.com made such a public splash about these allegations -- selectively leaking them to the WSJ -- when its whole MO is to kind of resolve this stuff quietly in the past, you do start to get a sense that Hans is not just a conspiracy theorist. There does seem to be some attempt by chess.com to carry Magnus' water here though I'm not entirely such it's as nefarious as the lawyers want to make it sound.

As an aside, one of the interesting things in the chess.com report is the bombshell that they had quietly banned a 2700 level player (not Hans) and got him to admit cheating. From the emails you can tell the guy's first language is not English, but the other thing that's kind of telling is the way that the guy sort of admits it and also tries to rationalize it. It's kind of a non-apology apology. I was struck when reading the report how differently they treated that guy from how they treated Hans. Their story is that once he gave an interview that minimized his cheating on chess.com, it was all gloves off and they were justified doing whatever they pleased. I find that interesting, when coupled with a quiet allegation in the complaint that gets no notice -- that chess.com simply lied when they said they had provided Hans with evidence of his cheating in these other games. That should be easy to prove or disprove. That would matter a lot to me if I were on a jury.

The rest of the chess.com report reads like gobbledygook to me. Lots of stuff in there about how Hans' rise in over the board rating is not commensurate with other prodigies and that he seems to have excelled too late in life. Agadmator has been careful not to pick sides, but he has been taking swipes at this kind of thinking and I tend to agree with him. My baseline assumption is that Hans is a cheating cheater who cheats, but he also is brash and kicked the crap out of the world champion with the black pieces in over the board where everyone has now said there was no evidence of cheating. But the idea that if someone comes along who had dramatic jumps at 14 instead of 12 we can't let him beat the world champion with the black pieces without taking him down kind of bums me out.

The lawsuit has some serious procedural problems that will need to get worked through before the merits. Some of the defendants might have to be sued outside Missouri, and that could create problems for Hans. Missouri is pretty generous about defamation suits and more plaintiff friendly than places like New York. But if Hans gets through those, and the case goes far enough along to be asking questions like "how destructive was this of Hans' career," he's going to be in pretty good shape. That's usually jury stuff, and once it gets to that point it's not good for the defendants.

The complaint lays out opportunities that Hans has lost because of this. He's basically been banned in over the board tournaments, according to the complaint, and lost out on the ability to play in Tata Steel -- a very important tournament. I have no knowledge of any of that, though, other than what he alleges.
 

SumnerH

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Isn’t the basis for the cheating allegations that Hans played at an accuracy level that was beyond human accuracy?
Nobody's come out and said that accuracy was the primary reason for Magnus' allegations. At that level, cheating on 1–2 moves can be enough to swing a result, and Magnus or someone could find an opponent's play suspicious because of a key computer-like move or 2 at crucial points in the game rather than thinking their overall average centipawn loss was suspiciously low or something like that. That's a really fraught road to go down: you can't really prove anything statistically about 1–2 moves a game, so you kind of have to catch someone red-handed to have credible evidence. OTOH if you think that it's happening, it's reasonable to go to the tournament and request additional scanning and countermeasures, otherwise it's never going to be stopped.

An admitted history of cheating on multiple occasions also probably factored in: people are likely to view a confirmed cheater with more suspicion than a previously clean player.


(chess.com's allegations are another matter entirely)
 

lars10

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Jul 31, 2007
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The Chess.com report -- for all it's reported length -- is a little bit light on details. One thing that they claim to have access to is toggle data, which means evidence that during the game there was toggling with another screen or program. Not sure how granular it is, but I suppose if you could time toggling between moves that showed a high degree of accuracy that could be pretty compelling. Beyond that, my read of the chess.com report was that it seemed to be trying to create an appearance of significant statistical robustness, but it was tough to parse it out.

What was pretty telling to me was a segment of one of Danya's twitter streams where Hikaru called him and they broke down several of the 10 games that chess.com said Hans cheated against Danya in. It is hard to find because they just put up all 4 hours of a twitch stream and it was in the middle of one. But you could kind of tell that they went in expecting to see something that was pretty compelling and really they found that Hans wasn't overly accurate and that neither of them could really see occasions of moves that did not seem like human moves. Danya did not remember the games as remarkable. But in the end they were kind of stuck concluding "well, chess.com must have some info we don't have." (That's not an actual quote.) If the guy you cheated against can't even see where it might have been, and your accuracy was merely above average, that to me starts to call into question the entire "100 games" narrative, and once you start asking questions about why chess.com made such a public splash about these allegations -- selectively leaking them to the WSJ -- when its whole MO is to kind of resolve this stuff quietly in the past, you do start to get a sense that Hans is not just a conspiracy theorist. There does seem to be some attempt by chess.com to carry Magnus' water here though I'm not entirely such it's as nefarious as the lawyers want to make it sound.

As an aside, one of the interesting things in the chess.com report is the bombshell that they had quietly banned a 2700 level player (not Hans) and got him to admit cheating. From the emails you can tell the guy's first language is not English, but the other thing that's kind of telling is the way that the guy sort of admits it and also tries to rationalize it. It's kind of a non-apology apology. I was struck when reading the report how differently they treated that guy from how they treated Hans. Their story is that once he gave an interview that minimized his cheating on chess.com, it was all gloves off and they were justified doing whatever they pleased. I find that interesting, when coupled with a quiet allegation in the complaint that gets no notice -- that chess.com simply lied when they said they had provided Hans with evidence of his cheating in these other games. That should be easy to prove or disprove. That would matter a lot to me if I were on a jury.

The rest of the chess.com report reads like gobbledygook to me. Lots of stuff in there about how Hans' rise in over the board rating is not commensurate with other prodigies and that he seems to have excelled too late in life. Agadmator has been careful not to pick sides, but he has been taking swipes at this kind of thinking and I tend to agree with him. My baseline assumption is that Hans is a cheating cheater who cheats, but he also is brash and kicked the crap out of the world champion with the black pieces in over the board where everyone has now said there was no evidence of cheating. But the idea that if someone comes along who had dramatic jumps at 14 instead of 12 we can't let him beat the world champion with the black pieces without taking him down kind of bums me out.

The lawsuit has some serious procedural problems that will need to get worked through before the merits. Some of the defendants might have to be sued outside Missouri, and that could create problems for Hans. Missouri is pretty generous about defamation suits and more plaintiff friendly than places like New York. But if Hans gets through those, and the case goes far enough along to be asking questions like "how destructive was this of Hans' career," he's going to be in pretty good shape. That's usually jury stuff, and once it gets to that point it's not good for the defendants.

The complaint lays out opportunities that Hans has lost because of this. He's basically been banned in over the board tournaments, according to the complaint, and lost out on the ability to play in Tata Steel -- a very important tournament. I have no knowledge of any of that, though, other than what he alleges.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjtbXxA8Fcc


I "watched" this long form video.. Watched in that it played on my computer screen, but I didn't really fully understand it.
I think Hikaru feels as though he's found Hans is cheating over the board.. comparing him to the best players ever. One of the games they look at Hans played with 100% accuracy for 45 moves.

I must admit that I'm a Magnus fan.. I'm half Norwegian and my grandfather's name was Magnus.. so I have a soft spot for him. I do wonder, though, if he's been a little less focused as of late as he's been more into poker and other things, which would allow for games where he stumbles. I'm a complete novice, though, and just watch recaps of games for fun.

The interviews I've watched with Hans.. he seems to hand wave his prior cheating and try to claim that his form now is based on practicing many hours a day... which seems plausible, but he also just doesn't seem like he's all that truthful IMO.

One thing that has felt suspect about the whole situation though is Magnus' merger with Chess.com, no? He's started playing a lot more on their platform and Chess.com bought his platform, correct? Would seem there's a huge amount of conflict of interest there.

Thanks for the info.
 

Ed Hillel

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Dec 12, 2007
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Doesn't read like a complaint to me that will be dismissed fast.
I don't think it's going to be dismissed, but the problem is Hans is going to have to publicly deal with all the evidence about his past online cheating. He's going to be stuck in a position where he has a low likelihood of success, but the certainty he's going to get some horrible PR.
 

Ed Hillel

Wants to be startin somethin
SoSH Member
Dec 12, 2007
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So, anyone here on Chess.com, I presume? What are your preferred game speeds/ratings? I play 5/0 blitz and am around 1875 atm. It's been a while since I started playing again about a month ago, but I'm catching back up a bit. Also tough to gain much traction when people rated higher consistently abort, but it is what it is.