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Disgraced chess player “retires” after getting caught

This is the stuff of spy movies. Chess grandmaster Igors Rausis fessed up to cheating and has “retired” from chess after being caught cheating. Apparently he was confronted with a grainy photo showing him sitting fully clothed on a toilet with a phone during a match. A phone was then found in the stall. Rausis later confessed. The articles I read did not suggest how the photo was taken. Did somebody sneak into the bathroom and snap a photo over the wall of the stall? Or perhaps there was a hidden camera in the ceiling. It seems the chess mandarins were suspicious and had been on the case.

Suspicion was aroused because Rausis had a remarkable record for a player his age – 58. He became the oldest player to rank his way into an elite club – the top 100 players in the world. Super high-level chess (and the same goes for the game of Go) has been a young person’s game.

I suppose the temptation can exist due to the strength of robot or computer players. In chess and in Go as well, the strongest AI players regularly beat the best humans. I haven’t played any chess in many years and I was never very strong at it, but I am an avid Go player (I’m puny and weak in the scheme of things, but I love the game). It’s now possible to have a crazy-strong AI in chess without having a super-computer.

In Go, I know it is possible to run an AI on a phone or iPad simultaneous to a human game. I wonder how much cheating goes on during online Go play? It would not surprise me at all to learn that there are people out there who cheat simply to look like winners. I know there are sandbaggers out there, people who pretend they are lower level players in order to win games.

It seems crazy that people would do such a thing. There have been cheaters in many sports, even at the highest levels, and in other games as well, such as bridge and also in video games. For some people the game is all about being the victor at all costs. The human condition is very strange indeed.


  1. Anonymous

    If you play any sort of game or sport at all you simply can not avoid the cheaters. At the olympic games athletes bring bags of their own blood along with them. Before their event they super oxygenate the blood and transfuse it back into their body giving them a big stamina advantage. Want to bet on European soccer? first buy yerself a referee so you can influence the outcome of the game. NBA refs have come under suspicion as have NFL refs. Any sort of online game will probably have as many cheaters playing as legitimate players. Way backwhen, Microsoft ran a gaming site called the Zone. I tried playing chess there a few times. The problem was that no one would play a game with a duration of more than 5 minutes. Why? Well half the players were cheaters who were running some sort of chess software. You make a move and your opponent would type your move into his chess program and the program would recommend a move. It took a minute or two to make that happen so the defense was to play games that were so short that there simply wasnt time to cheat. These days the technology is so fast that a chess program can calculate a grandmaster level move in mere seconds. Tournament bridge has had its share of spectacular scandals and it is darn near impossible to catch a bridge cheater. These days serious tournaments use plywood barriers to prevent you from seeing your partner. Baseball is notorious for cheating and the infamous spitball is the method of choice. These days a typical fastball rotates at about 2400 RPM causing the ball to move down in flight or side to side. Any sort of foreign substance on the ball will cause it to wobble a wee bit and move unpredictably in flight. A bit of spit or maybe a gob of vaseline and you are in business. There was a case a few years ago with the Toronto Blue Jays when an opposing pitcher was reaching around to the back of his belt before he gripped the ball to throw it. After a few innings of this it became so obvious that the Jays asked the umpire to inspect the pitcher’s belt. The umpire didnt find anything illegal but someone asked the question why did the Jays wait so many innings to get an inspection done. The consensus answer was that the Jays didnt want other teams to start inspecting their pitchers and a couple of baseball insiders actually admitted there were probably more pitchers doctoring the baseball than there were pitchers who didnt and the teams just didnt want to open that can of worms.

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