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AI Games

Detecting Chess Cheats Taxes Computers 159

First time accepted submitter jeffrlamb writes "Cheating in live chess matches — fueled by powerful computer programs that play better than people do, as well as sophisticated communication technologies — is becoming a big problem for world championship chess. Kenneth W. Regan is attempting to construct a mathematical proof to see if someone cheated; the trouble is that so many variables and outliers must be taken into account. Modeling and factoring human behavior in competition turns out to be very difficult."
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Detecting Chess Cheats Taxes Computers

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  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by demonbug ( 309515 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:33PM (#39415635) Journal

    I'd just use the CoD system for cheat detection. If they beat me, they cheated. Simple enough.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Check their pockets and make them play in a giant Faraday cage! In a room with only them and an impartial referee. No outside influences, and nobody else to give signals or otherwise interfere.

  • Obsolete (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 )

    Chess is obsolete then. Better to pick a game where people can still beat computers.

    • Re:Obsolete (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:43PM (#39415771)

      In that case, are the Olympics obsolete because the world's fastest sprinter can't even beat a moped, much less a Ferrari? Are painters obsolete because of photoshop? When the competition is man vs man, the abilities of machines shouldn't make it obsolete.

      • by ooshna ( 1654125 )

        When machines can beat Humans at the triathlon then we should worry.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          in a way they have. the convenience they bring us has convinced most of us to give up lifestyles that might include triathlons.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Sanity has convinced most of us to give up lifestyles that might include triathlons.

      • In that case, are the Olympics obsolete because the world's fastest sprinter can't even beat a moped, much less a Ferrari? Are painters obsolete because of photoshop? When the competition is man vs man, the abilities of machines shouldn't make it obsolete.

        When the first Olimpics were held in ancient Greece, the fastest sprinter couldn't beat a cheetah, most can't even beat a horse in the 1/4 mile.

        It's the spectators and sponsors that determine if a game can succeed professionally. The players determine if a game can succeed on an amateur level. Once a game has lost all it's spectators and players, then it's obsolete.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      And not just because of computers. Chess has been researched to the point where in most professional matches more than half of the moves is predetermined. Matches are not decided near the table, but in the research before that done by the players' teams. It's not about fighting each other on the board anymore, but finding a better variant before the match.

      • Re:Obsolete (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:59PM (#39416023) Homepage

        Which is why I love chess boxing.

        5 minutes of chess, 5 minutes of boxing, keep recycling.

        Yes IT's hard to move pieces while wearing boxing gloves.

      • There's a lot of book players who wonder how they lost when they reached a book position that was supposed to be in their favor! It's not that simple. Yes, they do try to find weaknesses in their opponent's opening repertoire, but both sides are doing the same thing, and are aware of the fact that the other side is looking for weaknesses. Sometimes they'll add something completely different to throw off their opponents work. Sometimes they'll get the advantage because of a novelty they worked out ahead of t

    • Football is obsolete then. Better to pick a game where people can still beat fully armored Tanks.
    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      "The only way to win is not to play." --original WarGames movie. ;)

  • Headline... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by krept ( 697623 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:38PM (#39415699)
    ...was hard to read.
  • IMHO, the solution is to create leagues. Aided players and unaided players. Allow people who have computer assistance to play. Why this 'pure human' garbage anyway? Do we really want to be at war with the technologies that we use to enhance our reach?

    I would also like to see advances made in user interface design that enable computers to act more as extensions of ourselves. Creating a computer-aided chess league would do a great deal to push this forward. We should embrace the technological enhancements we'

    • Already done. "Aided Playing" is called Advanced Chess.

      "Unaided Playing" just gets back to the article. The sneaky part is that you don't need to be a moron playing GM moves for an event of Cheating. There was a couple of stories a while back in which GMs only needed one key decision such as "Go for the Win or Keep the Draw" and their own talent was the rest.

    • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:46PM (#39415827)

      I, for one, welcome having an Aided Olympics where sprinters are allowed to use motorcycles and lasers.

    • If they created another league for computer-aided play, they would still be trying to eliminate cheating from the non-computer-aided play league. So that doesn't solve anything.

      And, who exactly is shunning technological enhancements? How much press have human vs computer matches gotten? And how frequently do people play chess against computers?

      Computers in chess is not really a new thing, and it certainly isn't shunned from chess in general. But, this is a league that is meant to test one player ag
      • Computer vs. human is totally different from computer + human. One is adversarial and ends up with people being made to feel small as computers brute force their way into a win using techniques that would never ever work for a person. The other allows playing that's better than either a human or a machine could manage on their own.

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      well the thing is... if you want to play chess against a computer, you can. Why have a league where humans just act as move proxies for computers? If all I did was input my oponennets moves and make the moves I was told to make, then, am I even playing the game? Or am I just taking credit for the work of the people who created the chess program?

      If you suggested an AI vs non-AI league, where competitors could pit their AIs against eachother, then yes, absolutely. Or even a league where people pit their AI pl

      • I could see using the AI as an assist rather than a replacement for reasoning.

        For example, pulling up a database of similar positions, the moves made and the results, and overlaying that on the board by color coding certain moves in certain ways. Or the part that computes whether a particular branch of the tree is more likely to lead to a win overlaying it's information on the board in a similar fashion. Or the player putting in a couple of test moves he or she thinks are particularly interesting and seeing

        • I want interfaces that augment human decision making, not supplant it. Computers are very good at certain kinds of reasoning. People are very good at other kinds of reasoning. Lets try to combine the two to make a greater whole instead of having one or the other.

          Hmmm. And I want strong AI. Not sure that the distinction you are making between computers and humans is valid. I would hope that there is only one kind of reasoning in the universe, dude.

          • Computers handle chess by projecting out the possibilities far into the future. Humans do this too, but there is a lot of evidence to show that humans also pattern match against previously seen positions in a very sophisticated way that computers don't do yet.

            Currently, a lot of how Google is 'intelligent' is from slurping enormous quantities of data and doing vast statistical analysis of these sets and predicting likely outcomes.

            Computers tend to do things this way. People tend to do things by a more sophi

  • Technically speaking, chess does have an enormous, yet finite amount of moves. Eventually computers will be able to calculate every possible outcome within a few seconds. Why not just give up on chess and play games that computer's can't play (or at least play like humans)?
    • Re:It's finite. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:57PM (#39415989) Homepage Journal
      My guess is they don't want to give up because they enjoy playing chess against other people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't really grasp the concept of exponential growth, do you? Computers are able to beat humans in chess, but chess will *never* be solved. The game tree complexity is, by some guesses, around 10^123, and yet there are only 10^81 atoms in the entire observable universe.

      • Depends on your definition of "solved". If the solution is "beat any human at chess" I'd say it's pretty much solved.
        • In adversarial game theory, to "solve" a game means that you've shown that the first player can always win (provided he makes the right moves), or whether it's just a tie, or even that the first player will always lose (if the opponent makes the right moves). Does anybody know whether the white player in chess can ALWAYS win, so long as he makes no mistakes? No, nobody knows that. The game's not solved.
    • Because in the bigger view, most games in these categories will eventually be playable by computers - it's only because chess was so famous that the proper programming theory developed in with advances in comp science. And we can't bear to let it go because it was the Grand Game of Kings - it symbolized a certain intelligence culturally like few other games did.

      I am having trouble thinking of a game that a person could play better than computers for longer than say 20 years. I know, Go fans like to flaunt t

      • Because in the bigger view, most games in these categories will eventually be playable by computers - it's only because chess was so famous that the proper programming theory developed in with advances in comp science.

        Arimaa [] is a game designed to take the place of chess. It can be played with a chess board and pieces, and there's been a $10,000 challenge to develop an AI that can beat a top human player. The challenge has been around for a long time, and is good through the year 2020.

        Computers may overtake humans in Go, just because we've seen human ability has already pretty much peaked in the game. It was a hugely popular game 50 years ago, but kids aren't learning it and playing it today. So, we already know what m

        • Okay, that's a fair attempt!

          I think it will also pose a challenge to computers since they can't just raw search it like chess, but to me that's that limitation on the programming side, heuristics.

    • by AdamHaun ( 43173 )

      Well, first of all, computers will never be able to calculate every possible outcome. The game tree complexity [] of chess is on the order of ~10^120, which is larger than the number of atoms in the observable universe. Even storing every position would take the matter content of a small galaxy.

      Secondly, chess is a game first and a mathematical problem second. We're having fun, not calculating digits of pi. You can cheat at any game, but that doesn't mean games are pointless.

      • Even storing every position would take the matter content of a small galaxy.

        Nah, the total number of positions is only 10 to the 43 to 47 power [], which is fewer than the atoms in the Earth. I wouldn't hold my breath on when we'll get them all calculated, though.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Assume I am a human who, before starting a game, has learnt and will apply the algorithm a computer uses to play chess.

    I am then indistinguishable from someone who is cheating by consulting a computer executing this algorithm.

    Therefore there is no mathematical proof to determine whether someone has cheated.

    This is in the realms of computability 101.

    • Assume I am a human who, before starting a game, has learnt and will apply the algorithm a computer uses to play chess.

      Computer chess algorithms are extremely inefficient if not impossible for a human to use, not unless you have a lot of pen and paper to keep track of your billions of calculations, but using notes is cheating and besides, your clock would run out. Strong human players use algorithms that are not easily translated into computer code. Sometimes(maybe a lot of times) there might be flaws in their calculations, but unless they are playing against a high end chess program/system, nobody will notice the mistake.

  • The article doesn't say anything about mathematical proof of whether someone cheated. At the moment he seems to simply be running the decision points (moves) of a game under suspicion against both historic games (to see if the player is playing significantly above their "normal" rating) and against a single computer chess program (to see if the competitor's moves have unusually high correlation with the moves the computer would make). All of this provides evidence of cheating (or lack thereof, as noted in t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you play as white, have a rook or a queen on line 7 threatening and keeping the black king locked on line 8. If the AI starts doing crazy shit then discard the whole thing as junk.

    I have seen this pattern emerge in every chess-AI I have played. There is this one move where it seems it cannot comprehend anything anymore and starts pushing pieces at you to draw out time.

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      I'm not good enough at chess to GET a rook or queen to line 7 safely against most AIs...
  • just use captchas to make sure the content is generated by a person
  • In smallish events (say, under 16 players) at the most elite levels, cheating detection is not difficult. Danialov's Toiletgate accusations aside (translation: Grandstanding,) on a small scale it is easy to detect cheating:

    1) All players are completely segregated and in a sterile environment during play.
    2) All players can be metal-detected before play - absolutely no electronics not provided by the tournament allowed.
    3) Any 'private' areas not under observation (toilet area,) hook up broadcast frequenc

  • put the players in an environment where outside input is impossible.

    Each player goes into a separate black box faraday cage. They get a touch screen display of the board the opponent is looking at. There are 3 video cameras, wathing the board, player and reverse views. The only signals going through the faraday cage are the video feeds and the board control interface.

    The video feeds are out only so no problem there. The control to update the opponents move is the only feed in and the only hole in the system

    • There's a very real problem though: One of the players may need to use the bathroom [].

    • At this point, one wonders why one would waste one's time with such contests. If the only reason I feel assured that my opponent is not cheating, is because he has been prevented from doing so, why should I play? Why would I want to match wits with somebody who obviously has no interest in participating in an actual competition? You can lock him in a room and force him to play fair, but why?

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @02:33PM (#39416481) Homepage

    The classic remark by Dreyfus, "No computer can play a decent game of chess", has been inverted. Today's commercial chess programs, running on ordinary desktop machines, or even laptops, can beat any human. No grandmaster has won a tournament against a chess program since 2005. Pocket Fritz 4 on a phone now plays at the grandmaster level.

    Hence the cheating. About once a year, a major chess player is caught cheating. []

    It turns out that, even at the grandmaster level, about 1 human move in 10 is clearly suboptimal. So, one computers got close to the grandmaster level, they could beat humans just by not making mistakes.

    • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      You see, to me the issue is that you can now crunch a lot of data and have computer analyze all possible combinations of plays, possibly hash them and store them altogether with the probability of winning (which was calculated at the end of all possible combinations starting with a particular move).

      Then for a game, it's very likely easy to go check a table with the higher winning probability (which may, by the way be 1), and use that move next.

      Look up table

      The valid moves are not unlimited, a
      • There are more possible moves in chess, than there are atoms in the visible universe. You can't physically make large enough memory storage to store all the moves even if you had all the atoms in the universe at your disposal.
  • I interviewed for a position at Buffalo, and I had dinner with Ken Regan there. Fascinating guy, with a lot of varied interests and a lot of depth. He had some interesting stories to tell about alledged cheating at chess.

  • Parse Error (Score:4, Funny)

    by hhedeshian ( 1343143 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:22PM (#39417321)
    Parse error: Detecting Chess Cheats Taxes Computers
    Parse error: (Detecting) Chess Cheats Taxes Computers
    Parse error: (Detecting Chess) Cheats Taxes Computers
    Parse error: Detecting (Chess Cheats) Taxes Computers
    Parse error: Detecting Chess (Cheats Taxes) Computers
    Parse possible: (Detecting Chess Cheats) Taxes Computers
    Parse possible: (Detecting Chess Cheats) Taxes Democrats
    Parse SUCCESSFUL: (Detecting Chess Cheats) [consumes] Computer [resources]
  • He tried to find articles on the subject, but turned up nothing. “It is one of those situations that it is hard to believe that this hasn’t already been covered in the literature,” he said.

    I'm not criticizing Kenneth W. Regan for the way in which his work was reported in the popular press, but Matej Guid and Ivan Bratko have had a couple of articles published in which they evaluate past world champion chess players with computer programs. Their ICGA Journal articles aren't free to read, but has articles (which I haven't read) based on those journal articles here [] and here [].

    My work isn't closely enough related to that of Regan and Guid/Bratko that I know the politics involve

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes