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  • Dark Side of Chess.


    The Dark Side of Chess: Payoffs, Points and 12-Year-Old Grandmasters

    When is a grandmaster’s title less than grand?


    This culture touched the Momot club. Many of its members acquired their grandmaster credentials in Crimea, at tournaments in places like Sudak and Alushta that were known as “norm factories” — where, for as little as $1,000, organizers would make sure players accumulated enough points for a norm.

    But there were other, more subtle, ways to succeed, too. Far from prying eyes, secret agreements and cash exchanges to arrange results were not uncommon, according to interviews with chess players and FIDE officials. In a sport so wholly obsessed with status, title and rank, even selling a game could be accomplished for the right price.

    Mikhail Zaitsev, who achieved the rank of International Master and is now a chess coach, estimated that of the world’s roughly 1,900 living grandmasters, at least 10 percent have cheated one way or another to acquire the title. Shohreh Bayat, one of the leading arbiters in chess, describes such arrangements in the plainest terms. “Match fixing,” she said, “is cheating.” Some hopefuls didn’t even have to play a game of chess to get the points they needed: Some tournaments, she said, took place only on paper.

    None of this is lost on the sport’s frustrated leaders.

    “We have a dog called Pasquales,” said Nigel Short, the vice president of FIDE. “I believe it is possible that if I went to the effort, I think I could get my dog a grandmaster’s title.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/13/s...ndmasters.html

  • #2
    Now that computers can play at the grandmaster level, players who want the grandmaster title should be verified by computer. Make them have to get at least one win and one draw in a 3-game series against a FIDE-controlled computer calibrated to play at the low end of the grandmaster range (rating of 2500).

    Just ensure there are a few FIDE officials in the room to ensure the player is not using any assistance.

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    • #3
      Not a bad idea....the present system is pretty corrupt...no wonder chess is popular with Russians.

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      • #4
        That actually sounds like a good solution. And make sure the computer is not network enabled. Some knucklehead will figure out how to hack into it and, voila, Pasquale is a Grand Master.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KevinR View Post
          That actually sounds like a good solution. And make sure the computer is not network enabled.
          Better yet, don't let the player know where in the world the computer is until the match is about to start.

          Play the games over live streaming video; when the player makes a move, a remote FIDE official located in the room or building with the computer makes the same move against the computer. When the computer makes a move, a FIDE official in the same room as the player moves the same piece on the board. Meanwhile, all moves are recorded on paper in the usual chess notation.

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          • #6
            Hey, thank you so much for the answer

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            • #7
              I've been lurking on this forum for quite some time, but this is the first time I actually feel like I have something say, as I am in fact a chess player, and I became a grandmaster in 2020!
              I felt kind of betrayed by what I read in the article, I knew that chess is not the cleanest sport, but I never heard this story about Karjakin, who is one of the best players of his generation.

              Playing vs the computer is not a great solution in my opinion, as you would need a very long match to reduce the importance of chance, and it would remove the psychological aspect of the game which normally is very important. Playing against a computer is a completely different experience from playing a human, even if they are of the same strength.

              The easiest way to make it a little bit more fair is to return a rule that was removed a while ago, namely that you need at least one grandmaster norm in an open tournament, which are much less susceptible to the shenanigans the article mentions, as the players in open tournaments usually have more ambitions themself.

              When players reach the required rating of 2500 and need to score one more norm- It's not that awful that they go play one of these closed tournaments in Hungary and score it there, (as long as they play fairly and not bribe their opponents ofcourse), as they've shown previously that they have the required level. The case of this 12-year old however is a disgrace, and comes very close to child labour in my opinion.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Federtiu View Post
                Playing vs the computer is not a great solution in my opinion, as you would need a very long match to reduce the importance of chance, and it would remove the psychological aspect of the game which normally is very important. Playing against a computer is a completely different experience from playing a human, even if they are of the same strength.
                The idea is to weed out the cheaters and fakers, not for the computer to be a perfect solution (there is no perfect solution). The mere existence of the computer verification match will weed out a large percentage of the cheaters, who won't want to waste their time and be embarrassed by losing all their games against the computer.

                There are certain thresholds of computer play, regardless of the psychology, where a true grandmaster will almost surely get at least one win and end up with at least an overall draw. For example, if an aspiring grandmaster got 4 draws and 2 losses in a 6-game match against a computer which plays at 1800, you'd probably say they're not a true grandmaster.

                Similarly, in arm wrestling, if you claim to be a world top 10 ranker in your weight class, there'll be certain level of force you should be able to pull against an arm wrestling machine. Being able to pull that force against a machine isn't the same as wrestling a human, but at some point there's a level of force where if you can't pull it, you're going to get destroyed by true top 10 competitors.

                1800 is probably too low of a threshold, but there's some other level of computer play somewhat below grandmaster, maybe 2100 or 2250 or 2400, where if you lose a series against the computer you're not credibly a grandmaster. And the computer must not be the only test; it's to be only the last step after your tournament play (or alleged tournament play) indicates you're at the grandmaster level.

                When players reach the required rating of 2500 and need to score one more norm- It's not that awful that they go play one of these closed tournaments in Hungary and score it there, (as long as they play fairly and not bribe their opponents ofcourse),...
                Which goes back to the same problem. They might bribe the opponent.

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                • #9
                  My grandchildren have sll gone through the Maori language immersion unit at our local primary school in Auckland.

                  My daughter started a chess club 2 months ago. It has 30 young Maori kids playing in the club. 6 to 20 year olds. Including 2 of my grandchildren.

                  These kids all want to know why chess was a racist game.

                  They wanted to know why white always got to be first to move and black was never allowed to move first.

                  The children believe there should be a coin toss for moving first.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tuariki View Post
                    My grandchildren have sll gone through the Maori language immersion unit at our local primary school in Auckland.

                    My daughter started a chess club 2 months ago. It has 30 young Maori kids playing in the club. 6 to 20 year olds. Including 2 of my grandchildren.

                    These kids all want to know why chess was a racist game.

                    They wanted to know why white always got to be first to move and black was never allowed to move first.

                    The children believe there should be a coin toss for moving first.
                    One important reason for not using a coin toss for that is because the initial layout of pieces is asymmetric, with white having the queen on the player's left and black having the queen on the player's right. Allowing either color to move first would introduce another level of chance and complexity into the openings.

                    So rather than flip coins to decide which color moves first, in tournaments they flip coins to decide who gets to play as white first.

                    But why was white chosen as the first mover? I don't know. I've read that historically it wasn't always white that moved first.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 18.99s View Post

                      The idea is to weed out the cheaters and fakers, not for the computer to be a perfect solution (there is no perfect solution). The mere existence of the computer verification match will weed out a large percentage of the cheaters, who won't want to waste their time and be embarrassed by losing all their games against the computer.

                      There are certain thresholds of computer play, regardless of the psychology, where a true grandmaster will almost surely get at least one win and end up with at least an overall draw. For example, if an aspiring grandmaster got 4 draws and 2 losses in a 6-game match against a computer which plays at 1800, you'd probably say they're not a true grandmaster.

                      Similarly, in arm wrestling, if you claim to be a world top 10 ranker in your weight class, there'll be certain level of force you should be able to pull against an arm wrestling machine. Being able to pull that force against a machine isn't the same as wrestling a human, but at some point there's a level of force where if you can't pull it, you're going to get destroyed by true top 10 competitors.

                      1800 is probably too low of a threshold, but there's some other level of computer play somewhat below grandmaster, maybe 2100 or 2250 or 2400, where if you lose a series against the computer you're not credibly a grandmaster. And the computer must not be the only test; it's to be only the last step after your tournament play (or alleged tournament play) indicates you're at the grandmaster level.



                      Which goes back to the same problem. They might bribe the opponent.
                      Let's not overstate the problem here, basically every person who becomes a grandmaster is at least 2450 level. If you are clearly below that, bribing your way to GM becomes way too expensive and complicated. The problem with becoming a grandmaster is that you need 3 grandmaster (GM) norms, which you can only get when you perform at 2600 level in a tournament. So it is (for most people) quite a bit easier to be at grandmaster-level, which is 2500 (which is the minimum rating required, regardless of norms), than to actually become a grandmaster. The issue is not that bad players bribe themselves to the GM-title, the problem is that strong players close to the title try to find 'creative' ways to actually get it, becaus the final step is so difficult.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Federtiu View Post
                        The issue is not that bad players bribe themselves to the GM-title, the problem is that strong players close to the title try to find 'creative' ways to actually get it, becaus the final step is so difficult.
                        Well, the article does seem to be making the case that players far below GM ability are actually able to get GM status through bribery and results from fictitious tournaments.

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                        • #13
                          It is enlightening to have someone qualified as a Chess Jedi join in the conversation. There is always the possibility of an article overstating the author's case, or extrapolating beyond a few instances to imply greater volume.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KevinR View Post
                            It is enlightening to have someone qualified as a Chess Jedi join in the conversation. There is always the possibility of an article overstating the author's case, or extrapolating beyond a few instances to imply greater volume.
                            Exactly! The quotes are colourful, the anecdotes are great, and it does look at a serious problem in chess, but I fear that people may draw incorrect conclusions from it.

                            The article does not provide any evidence for the claim that 10% of the GMs have cheated their way to the title, and even if that claim is correct I suspect it is almost exclusively people who were very close already. The Nigel Short quote about his dog is very funny, but also very much a Nigel Short quote, he is quite notorious for his colourful language and opinions.

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                            • #15
                              Who knew there was a dark side to chess?
                              Sixty-plus years ago, I played quite a bit with modest success. I quit because I kept playing chess in my mind and could not sleep. Ten years ago, I played again for the first time since quitting, teaching my ten-year-old grandson the game. After about four "lessons" he beat me repeatedly. I have not played since.

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