Whether you refer to them as a “chess cheat” a “computer abuser” or whatever, we all know who they are.

This post will discuss my perspective on cheating in online chess (not the global epidemic of cheating in open events) and will provide:

  • A short rant on the topic 🙂

and then…

  • A method you can use to get a pretty good idea of whether your opponent is a chess cheat.

So let’s get started…

The Chess Cheat

Defintion:

This guy is a dishonest and pathetic parasite who instead of sharing his passion for chess in an honest, fair game (and MAYBE even trying to improve his chess) prefers to be a chess cheater over the internet.

Clearly headed for great things in life.

He will typically have two windows open.

One is his chess-playing website of choice, be it chess.com, Lichess, or even my new fav Guo Xiang Lian Meng.

The other window open is his chess engine.

This is how he “plays” online chess.

Method 1: Manual Transmission

  1. Opponent moves
  2. He enters the move into the engine window and engine responds.
  3. He relays this move to chess website.
  4. Rinse and repeat until poor guy on the other end is crushed senseless and depressed (especially if he like many naive players, thinks he just “played so poorly that he was crushed“)

This is just the most primitive (but also most common) way of cheating.

There are also more “sophisticated” methods like using apps like…

Method 2: Automatic Transmission

InternetChessKiller (suitable name I know)

This app makes the entire process mentioned above automated, so no window switching is required and it even has (so I’ve heard) ways to make the engine only choose like only the 2nd or 3rd best move in order to avoid detection!

Sneaky rats.

You guys starting to see why I train more and more against engines now? At least I get to tweak, weaken and make the engines more “human” before I play them.

Better than taking on Stockfish 7 with its monstrous 3300 rating, which would demolish even Magnus Carlsen.

A friend asked me recently:

“But I don’t get it… Why would they even want to win in such a way? There can be no pride in winning by relaying engine moves mindlessly onto a chess server”

Typical online cheats are low rated, lazy fucks who never had the work ethic to study chess diligently and become a half decent player.

Don’t get it twisted and be offended by my use of “low rated”

This is not a strength issue.

Even 1600 ELO is not bad if you worked hard to get there. Great effort!

I sincerely applaud you.

One the other hand…

A chess cheat is similar to a guy who tries to use “pick up lines” to get a date, rather than just improving himself to the point that a member of the opposite sex might find him interesting.

If You’re a Chess Cheat… Like All Actions in our Lives, This is a Reflection of Your Inner Workings:

If you cheat at chess online, you clearly orient yourself towards…

  • Instant gratification
  • Moral bankruptcy
  • A slothful mindset
  • Poor self-image (need to win by any means necessary to reinforce ego and feel “successful”)

Cheating Destroys Chess Culture

One of the saddest things to see is the lack of trust now in online chess.

Strong players (myself included) after suffering a crushing loss online, immediately suspect that the opponent has had engine assistance.

Its only natural since the problem is rampant.

Just tonight even the mighty Hikaru Nakamura accused an IM who beat him at blitz of using Komodo to beat him!

Amazing.

Here’s a screen cap.

nakamura accuses chess cheat

 How I’ll do My Part to Deal with Cheats

At the bottom of this post I have made a video showing you a quick way to get an idea if your opponent is using an engine. Don’t accuse people until you have overwhelming proof (read: don’t be Hikaru 😉 )

How You’ll do Your Part to Deal with Cheats

Run suspicious games through the test I give below and if somebody is found to be guilty of cheating, send a report to staff of that website, complete with the links to the games and screenshots from the test.

  • Make a note of the country the cheat says they are from (some cheaters returning with new accounts after being banned seem unable to remove their national pride, and still use the same country indicator.)
  • Make a note of the account name (some cheaters returning with new accounts after being banned only change one digit in the user name to gloat to site staff. So “iMaChEaT” might become “iMaChEaT2”)

Keep all of this gathered intelligence in an “evidence file” for future reference.

How to Identify a Chess Cheat:

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for…rant over I promise! 😉

Its time for the nuts n bolts of this method.

First some no brainers that often point to engine use…

  • Consistent time usage for each move, regardless of position type (cheats don’t use their own brain. So for a decent operator it takes about 5 seconds to switch windows and get a response from the engine, then switch back and make a move. This can be made very obvious when an opponent takes 5 seconds for a forced move or recapture, which a non-cheat would do within 1 second.)
  • PERFECT defence even in scary, knife’s edge, tactical positions with an unsafe king.
  • Account Age: a lot of cheaters have accounts which are less than one year old, due to having previous accounts banned.
  • Failing the “LiChess Test” (video below)

The LiChess Test

Use the test in this video to drive the final nail into the cheat’s coffin.

Conclusion:

Chess cheats are rampant in online chess, but I hope the methods in this post can at least allow you to put your mind at ease about whether you really lost fair and square,  and most importantly…if your opponent was playing fairly.

Keep up the training guys, take care and I’ll see ya soon!

Brendan