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Top French Chess Players Suspended For Cheating 295

Posted by timothy
from the neither-kosher-nor-cricket dept.
cf18 writes "The French chess federation has suspended three top players for violating sporting ethics at a chess olympiad in Siberia last September. The allegation claims while the first member was playing, a second member would watch the game via internet, use software to find the best move, and send it to the third member via SMS. The third member would then sit himself at a particular table in the competition hall. Each table represented an agreed square on the chess board."
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Top French Chess Players Suspended For Cheating

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  • Hand gestures (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denshao2 (1515775) on Friday March 25, 2011 @07:42PM (#35618152) Homepage Journal
    Would have been much easier and less obvious than changing seats for every move.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fishbowl (7759)

      You wouldn't need a whole lot of signals. It could very easily be as simple as "yes or no" signals. At this level of play you are far beyond "wondering which piece to move where." Problems are much more likely to present themselves in terms of "does this line lead to some tactical trouble that I don't see?" Chess has some pretty weird aspects that stem from its simplicity.

    • Re:Hand gestures (Score:4, Informative)

      by More_Cowbell (957742) * on Friday March 25, 2011 @08:34PM (#35618564) Journal
      Possibly, but it's not like it was how they were caught, so does it matter?
      From TFA:

      The alleged strategy was discovered by French chess federation Vice President Joanna Pomian, who spotted a text message on the mobile phone of one of the three players while the French team was involved in a game.

      • Re:Hand gestures (Score:5, Informative)

        by SmilingBoy (686281) on Saturday March 26, 2011 @05:30AM (#35620716)

        They were even dumber. The Independent [independent.co.uk] wrote:

        The alleged manipulations came to light because Mr Marzolo did not have a mobile telephone of his own. As a result of financial problems he had been barred by all mobile companies. His telephone had been loaned to him by another senior player for whom he once worked, Joanna Pomian, the vice president of the federation.

        During the championship, she accidentally discovered a message from Mr Hauchard in Russia which read: "Hurry up and send the moves." She checked the records of the line and found Mr Marzolo had sent 180 messages to the other accused men during the competition. Most consisted of telephone numbers.

  • by tie_guy_matt (176397) on Friday March 25, 2011 @07:57PM (#35618276)

    My first thought, how would steroids help in chess? Guess chess isn't like other sports.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 25, 2011 @08:02PM (#35618322) Journal
    My understanding was that Chess, while significantly less intractable than some games, was still something that you needed a fairly serious computer to play well fast enough to be tournament legal.

    Has the state of the art in fact advanced more significantly than I thought, or were these guys sufficiently low-level players that some quite ordinary software was deemed sufficiently likely to be better? I'd assume that you wouldn't take the risk of being caught cheating unless you were fairly confident that it would boost your odds of winnning, which would imply a belief that you were substantially worse than whatever software they had access to.
    • by gman003 (1693318)
      World-class players usually have a Elo rating around 2000-2500. Rybka (first one I checked) on a quad-core machine is usually rated about 3000 or so. Given that info, I would say it's pretty much plausible that a computer can beat any human player.
      • by santax (1541065)
        They tried that. It almost worked. Almost. The computer won, but not all games. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Blue_(chess_computer) [wikipedia.org] If they try it again, let them pick Magnus Carlsen for the game. I would love to see that match. He would have a good change at not losing all the games. But indeed, processing power and databases have become so fast and big that a computer can win from 99% of all people just by looking at former games... The first computer-program that actual can really play chess still ha
        • by dcollins (135727)

          New Yorker article Mar-21: "I asked Carlsen if he would be interested in a Deep Blue-type contest, and he said no -- it would discourage him."

          Longer quote here. [slashdot.org]

        • by gman003 (1693318)
          Deep Blue vs Gary Kasparov was 15 years ago. The state of the art has increased considerably. Plus, computing power has increased even more - Deep Blue was 11 gigaflops, which can be matched by a high-end gaming desktop.
    • by owlstead (636356)

      There are chess players that are specialised playing chess against computers. They are supposedly better than most computers/applications. But that's different than playing any human chess player. So I think it's quite likely that a computer could beat a grandmaster if he thought he was playing a human. And don't forget that there were two others that could e.g. discard some computer moves. That said, that's what I heard in college, and that's already 10 years (!) ago.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      "Has the state of the art in fact advanced more significantly than I thought...?"

      Apparently, yes. New Yorker article last week (Mar-21) profiling current chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen (21-years old, ranked #1 in world last year):

      "But processors are now so powerful that no human stands a chance of winning a match. I asked Carlsen if he would be interested in a Deep Blue-type contest, and he said no -- it would discourage him. Among the chess elite, the idea of challenging a computer has fallen into the realm

      • I would be fascinated to know whether there is a difference, and how large a difference, between how well people can identify computer players and how well they think that they can...

        Given the amount of game-studying undertaken by people sufficiently advanced in chess to actually have an opinion, it'd be pretty tricky to blind such a test properly; but I just have to wonder whether a 'weird computer move I can't understand' would be described in completely different terms by somebody who thinks that ther
    • by Surt (22457)

      The state of the art took a quantum leap forward about 8 or 9 years ago. There were some new ideas in the programs that jumped the ratings on typical pc level hardware by something like 3-400 points.

  • I know specialist systems (big blue) can beat anyone, but are standard PC-based chess programs really better than players at this level?

    (If so, maybe time for everyone to switch to Go?)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cf18 (943501)
      After submitting the story I found a more detail story from The Independent [independent.co.uk].

      It mention the chess program used is called "Firebird". From google there are many reference for it in various chess forums as an open source chess engine but I can't find an official page in English.

    • by Gorimek (61128)

      Well, people havent quit running competitions, even though cars are much faster.

    • by Arlet (29997)

      Yes. In fact, in 2009, an HTC Touch smart phone running Pocket Fritz 4 won the Copa Mercosur tournament in Buenos Aires, with a score of 9.5 out of 10, and a ELO performance of 2898.

      On big multi-core PCs, modern programs have ELO ratings of > 3100, while the top human players have ratings just over 2800.

    • Yes.

      The last big Machine-Man match was in 2006 which was Kramnik against Deep Fritz. Wikipedia says the following about the hardware: "Deep Fritz version 10 ran on a computer containing two Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs (a Xeon DC 5160 3 GHz processor with a 1333 MHz FSB and a 4MB L2 Cache)". Kramnik lost this match. Imagine what a $500 computer now would do. (Plus chess engines have improved a lot as well.)

      Just try yourself. The best chess engine currently is free (as in beer): Houdini. Furthermore, you need

  • by kju (327) * on Friday March 25, 2011 @08:12PM (#35618376)

    While I despise such cheating in general, I still have to say that this is a nice stunt. I like the coding through seating step.

  • by camcorder (759720) on Friday March 25, 2011 @08:15PM (#35618394)
    According to TFA, this cheat is discovered by their own federation, and disclosed so at least these cheaters can be considered as violator of their own ethics and the rest of the French chess players on that level won't have a bad reputation or leave a doubt in future events.

    It's wise, and also fortunate, that they solved this problem in house.
  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday March 25, 2011 @10:24PM (#35619288) Homepage

    I enjoy a good game of chess myself, on occasion. However, at the top level, chess is populated almost entirely by gigantic douchebags. I'm not surprised cheating went on. Look at some of Bobby Fischer's early matches. And hey, Kasparov isn't above cheating, either. His opponent didn't say anything because she knew he'd use his reputation to destroy her and anything she said.

    "An interesting example of taking back moves at the highest level of OTB chess occurred recently at the elite 1994 Linares super tournament. It's claimed that there is video tape showing that PCA World Champion Garry Kasparov, while playing Judit Polgar, moved a knight to a square which would have cost him the exchange. Apparently, even though he had released the piece, he picked it up again and moved it to another square and went on to win the game." Link to more [controltheweb.com].

    Bobby Fischer, the greatest American player ever, idolized Hitler and hated Jewish people, and cheered 9/11 on his radio show. Sample quote: "This is a wonderful day. Fuck the United States. Cry, you crybabies! Whine, you bastards! Now your time is coming." Don't think he was alone in the chess world, either, he had a lot of friends: as Gudmundur G. ThÃrarinsson, the man who arranged the famous "Cold War" match against Spassky in Iceland, said at Fischer's funeral, "In the fullness of time, history will judge the United States harshly for its treatment of Robert James Fischer."

    I leave with this piece about chess, written in the 1500s.
    "Chess is certainly a pleasing and ingenious amusement, but it seems to have one defect, which is that it is possible to have too much knowledge of it, so that whoever would excel in the game must give a great deal of time to it, as I believe, and as much study as if he would learn some noble science or perform well anything of importance; and yet in the end, for all his pains, he only knows how to play a game. Thus, I think a very unusual thing happens in this, namely that mediocrity is more to be praised than excellence."

    • by tibit (1762298)

      And I just ran out of mod points. You win teh internets for tonight!

    • Could you give the source for that last quotation? It sums up more eloquently than I ever could the reasons I stopped playing.

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      I leave with this piece about chess, written in the 1500s.
      "Chess is certainly a pleasing and ingenious amusement, but it seems to have one defect, which is that it is possible to have too much knowledge of it, so that whoever would excel in the game must give a great deal of time to it, as I believe, and as much study as if he would learn some noble science or perform well anything of importance; and yet in the end, for all his pains, he only knows how to play a game. Thus, I think a very unusual thing happ

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