Chess.Com getting sued.

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Paul Cooksey
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Paul Cooksey » Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:50 pm

I watched Danny Rensch's State of Chess.com this week.

I don't think you'd get any comfort that chess.com intend to improve their process, only that they think it is good to publicise banning as many cheaters as possible.

The argument they must be right because people don't go to the trouble of suing them seems weak, at best.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:01 pm

"The argument they must be right because people don't go to the trouble of suing them seems weak, at best."

They are probably aware that if they ban a non-US player, any legal action would be in a US court, which would be very expensive, and the court would probably favour a US person. That's not racist - courts operate like that in many places.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Roger Lancaster » Fri May 01, 2020 12:39 pm

I'm afraid I wasn't prepared to spend two hours listening to Danny Rensch so I restricted myself to the 'Fair Play/Proctoring' section. I'm not sure I'm left much wiser as a result - and there's one major point still troubling me.

The Sunway Sitges tournament was run on Chess.com with the organisers including [italics] the following 'Fair play regulations and measures" where the third paragraph is significant.

All players must have a webcam and the ability to enable audio on their playing devices. Moreover, players must have an active Skype account in order to communicate with referees or to be contacted by them.

Only the player playing in each game may be present in the playing area, and no other people can be present that room or playing area while the game is being played. It is also strictly forbidden to have any other electronic devices than the one used to play in the playing room or playing area.

All games will be checked by Chess.com’s Fair Play Team and by the tournament arbiters. Furthermore, arbiters will be entitled to use video surveillance of players. Games under video surveillance can be decided both prior to the start of each round, randomly during each round or even by the request of a player. The arbiters reserve the right to decide in each case.


Moving forward, the FIDE Online Nations Cup, also on Chess.com contains detailed Fair Play regulations which are summarised [italics] as follows:

In order to guarantee fair play in an entirely online event, during their games, players will be observed by FIDE-affiliated international arbiters via a video conference call. To ensure that the participants don't receive any kind of external help from a computer, their webcam, computer screen and the room in which they are playing will be under supervision.

The question I'm asking myself is this. If Chess.com's detection mechanisms and appeal procedures meet the high standards of reliability and integrity claimed by Danny Rensch, why is it that major chess organisers -and FIDE itself - believe it necessary, since the tournament arbiters in both events appear to have the final word, to add to these? And, if event organisers and FIDE itself don't have total faith in Chess.com, why should the rest of us?

Ian Thompson
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Ian Thompson » Fri May 01, 2020 1:29 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 12:39 pm
The question I'm asking myself is this. If Chess.com's detection mechanisms and appeal procedures meet the high standards of reliability and integrity claimed by Danny Rensch, why is it that major chess organisers -and FIDE itself - believe it necessary, since the tournament arbiters in both events appear to have the final word, to add to these? And, if event organisers and FIDE itself don't have total faith in Chess.com, why should the rest of us?
Even if chess.com's anti-cheating measures were 100% accurate, which they obviously aren't, you still need measures in place to detect non-computer methods of cheating.

A few obvious examples that chess.com will never detect are:

1. Someone other than the entrant playing the game.
2. The entrant collaborating with one or more other people to play the game.
3. The entrant consulting opening books to play the opening better than they are capable of themselves.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Roger Lancaster » Fri May 01, 2020 2:29 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 1:29 pm

Even if chess.com's anti-cheating measures were 100% accurate, which they obviously aren't, you still need measures in place to detect non-computer methods of cheating.

A few obvious examples that chess.com will never detect are:

1. Someone other than the entrant playing the game.
2. The entrant collaborating with one or more other people to play the game.
3. The entrant consulting opening books to play the opening better than they are capable of themselves.
Maybe that answers my question in that, as Ian points out, the Chess.com mechanism alone won't catch 100% of cheats - whereas the key question is rather different, whether 100% of the people Chess.com 'catches' are cheats. [Or even 99% since, to be fair, Chess.com doesn't claim to be infallible].

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri May 01, 2020 2:43 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 2:29 pm
[Or even 99% since, to be fair, Chess.com doesn't claim to be infallible].
Probably considerably lower.

If the opportunity arises, the ECF should attempt to stamp very firmly on one of FIDE's ideas.

https://en.chessbase.com/post/emil-suto ... 9-pandemic
We will require a sort of reciprocity from the players - (a) obey these regulations; and (b) you are ready to accept expulsion from the event based on suspicion. Certainly, you can't have a player banned for life without concrete evidence but if there's serious suspicion based on computer or algorithm evidence then temporary expulsion can occur.
It would be expected that published theoretical material has been computer assisted or checked. It's known that players can memorise theory and if able to reproduce it can achieve results well above their previously published rating. Under the Sutovsky plan, beating a GM is evidence of cheating.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by JustinHorton » Fri May 01, 2020 3:13 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 2:29 pm
since, to be fair, Chess.com doesn't claim to be infallible].
In fact one if their emails does use the phrase "100 per cent certain", as I recall
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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Roger Lancaster
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Roger Lancaster » Fri May 01, 2020 3:45 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 3:13 pm
In fact one if their emails does use the phrase "100 per cent certain", as I recall
You're doubtless right but Danny Rensch now appears to concede there will be the occasional mistake, which will hardly come as news to you.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by JustinHorton » Fri May 01, 2020 3:57 pm

I have some 100 per cent opinions about Danny Rensch.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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Simon Brown
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Simon Brown » Fri May 01, 2020 5:36 pm

Has anyone tested it? Played with an engine and see how long it takes to be banned?

I don't play much at chess.com, but i was awarded a few points for a cheating opponent last week. I wasn't told which opponent, and I must say I hadn't noticed any opponent playing particularly well, but I always attribute my losses to a surfeit of G&Ts rather than anything my opponent does.

Joseph Conlon
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Joseph Conlon » Fri May 01, 2020 10:28 pm

Blitz is a different beast from daily chess, but when playing on lichess blitz every single time (~8) I have suspected someone of cheating and reported them they have subsequently been banned for computer assistance. There may be subtle engine users in blitz, but a lot of engine users stand out like a sore thumb and are easy to spot both by the moves they play and by the moves they don't (as without an engine they are not very good at chess).

I think it would be hard to cheat subtly unless someone was already a strong player; and almost all strong players enjoy chess for its own sake and don't want to be banned.

My experience with blitz on lichess is that I would put engine use at <1% of games, fundamentally its pretty clean and engine users get banned pretty quickly.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat May 02, 2020 8:28 am

Joseph Conlon wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 10:28 pm
I think it would be hard to cheat subtly unless someone was already a strong player; and almost all strong players enjoy chess for its own sake and don't want to be banned.
Joseph, that is also true of almost all of their weaker brethren. We too love the game for its own sake.

I may be wrong, but I have the impression that a significant proportion of those who have been banned in OTB chess are players of master strength and above. Honest players of that strength - the vast majority - are very keen to see the cheats exposed.

Nevertheless, the FIDE Fair Play Regulations are designed to protect the innocent as well as to identify and punish the guilty. Chess.com don't appear to care about the former at all and it doesn't seem to be of much importance to Lichess.

For most people, being banned from Chess.com would not affect their employment or other earnings. In my case, as a Category A International Arbiter, it could result in my never working again.

I am intending to play in the forthcoming European Online Chess Championship organised by the European Chess Union, but only because in that event the decision on whether to expel a player rests not with Chess.com but with the Chief Arbiter of the tournament.

Edit: Typo corrected.
Last edited by David Sedgwick on Sat May 02, 2020 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat May 02, 2020 8:45 am

David Sedgwick wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 8:28 am
I may be wrong, but I have the impression that a significant proportion of those who have been banned in OTB chess are of players of master strength and above.
At lower levels of attainment amongst those who just pretend using engines to be strong players, I think you see "voluntary" bans. In other words they just retire from chess rather than attempt to work their way up rating and ranking lists legitimately. That was the outcome in the case where the 4NCL referred it to the ECF who in turn attempted without much success to get FIDE to take an interest.

If it weren't for the danger that games between non-elite players could just become straight engine v engine contests, there may be a case for playing online tournaments at longer time controls under rules similar to the ICCF. In other words most forms of external consultation are allowed including published theory, databases and engines.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat May 02, 2020 9:36 am

David Sedgwick wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 8:28 am
Nevertheless, the FIDE Fair Play Regulations are designed to protect the innocent as well as to identify and punish the guilty. Chess.com don't appear to care about the former at all and it doesn't seem to be of much importance to Lichess.

For most people, being banned from Chess.com would not affect their employment or other earnings. In my case, as a Category A International Arbiter, it could result in my never working again.

I am intending to play in the forthcoming European Online Chess Championship organised by the European Chess Union, but only because in that event the decision on whether to expel a player rests not with Chess.com but with the Chief Arbiter of the tournament.
David's is an extreme case but, in principle, the same point applies to anyone who is part of the chess-playing community and who is wrongly accused of cheating by Chess.com or anyone else. One can partially neutralise this by using an anonymous username - and it's a sad reflection of affairs if people have to resort to this to avoid the risk of defamation - but this doesn't assist in team events where, for example, a 10-year-old banned from playing for his or her school team is liable to be vilified by classmates.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Chess.Com getting sued.

Post by JustinHorton » Sat May 02, 2020 10:11 am

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 9:36 am
One can partially neutralise this by using an anonymous username
Although even in this instance, why should anybody have to consider the issue of being defamed when first selecting a username? Perhaps chess.com should issue a warning along those lines.
David Sedgwick wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 8:28 am
For most people, being banned from Chess.com would not affect their employment or other earnings. In my case, as a Category A International Arbiter, it could result in my never working again.
I've not got the slightest reason to believe that chess.com have acknowledged this problem in any way, though if we wind back to the start of this thread, it was a lawsuit from Henry Despres, who specifically pointed to the potential impact of a ban on his earnings, that kicked it off. Chess.com's policies have to be seen in the light of that case, and I can only assume - I can't see any other interpretation - that after that incident they simply decided that they wouldn't or couldn't address the problems at their end and that anybody who was affected could either take the same route as Despres or get stuffed.

And of course when you are running tournaments on other people's behalf, or when you are running tournaments where all the players are identifiable, this policy is liable to break down and perhaps very quickly.
Last edited by JustinHorton on Sat May 02, 2020 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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