Woman Gamers on Youtube – Chess Player – Anna Rudolf

Anna Rudolf has a few tales to tell about sexism in Chess, although she does not talk explicitly about sexism. However, I do think that her false accusation of cheating has a lot to do with some men’s fragile egos being hurt by losing to a woman.

The tale has a happy-ish ending in the sense that she was vindicated and her accusers were reprimanded for wantonly accusing her sans evidence. However, I do wonder if she would have won the tournament and the GM title if she were not so emotionally distraught in that last game.

How to Catch Chess Cheaters With Statistics

Mano has recently mentioned a little kerfuffle in the online chess community involving an American International Master Levy Rozman and an Indonesian cheater Dadang Subur, who was banned o chess.com shortly after a match between the two raised the suspicion of Levy Rozman and he (and possibly a lot of people who watch his twitch streams) reported him as a suspected cheater. Chess.com evaluated the situation and banned the suspected cheater, thus turning him from suspected cheater to confirmed cheater.

Chess.com guards the tools they are using to evaluate whether someone is cheating or not pretty closely so cheaters cannot learn how to circumvent them, which is understandable. It is also a bit annoying for someone who likes to make statistical analyses of their own, like me. I cannot know the tools they use, neither do I have the access to their data, but that does not stop me from speculating. And today I would like to share one of those speculations on the off-chance that there are more people who like this kind of stuff around here.

In the comment section at Mano’s, I have speculated a bit:

They have probably several criteria to look at, and here is my guess at what they are:

1. The time between moves. Experienced players can play memorized opening moves within a fraction of a second. If someone consistently has a high rating and takes a long time to make beginning moves, it is an indicator of engine use.

2. Distribution of times the moves take during a game. I have not made a proper analysis, but my guess based on looking at my own games would be that they should conform to a Weibull distribution.

3. The length of winning-losing streaks. These should probably be pretty randomly long. Consistent patterns of extremely long winning streaks and no losing streaks are a bit suspicious.

4. The win/loss ratio. The site does a fairly good job at pairing people of similar strength, so it should be about 50/50. Even when your ELO is going up. I have gained 300 ELO over half a year and I do have circa 50/50 win to lose ratio.

5. Game accuracy and consistency. It is possible, even for weak players like me, to get accuracy over 90%, or even an occasional perfect game without mistakes and blunders. But a streak of twenty nearly flawless games is unlikely, even for titled players.

6. Rating growth speed. Titled players can send in their certificate and they get assigned rating accordingly, they do not need to start at the basic rating like everyone else. For an untitled player, the faster they gain rating, the more suspicious it is.

From all these, points 1 and 2 are relatively easy to check with just a few games, so I did that. I have downloaded ten of my games, ten games from Magnus Carlsen, and twenty games from one cheater whom I have recently played. My and cheater’s games were all 10 minutes games with no time increment, Magnus Carlsen’s games were, unfortunately, ten and fifteen minutes games with 2 seconds increments, so I had to cut those at fifty moves. But for the purpose of this demonstration, it is sufficient. And why twenty games from the cheater? Because he was an intermittent cheater. He had long winning streaks of nearly perfect games and then long losing streaks of crappy ones with one occasional win by the skin of his teeth. And while it is easy to get a long losing streak of crappy games (I should know), getting one long streak of nearly perfect wins is not very plausible – unless you are Magnus Carlsen, that is.

So the first picture that I would like to share is a so-called dotplot of move times in these games.

On the x-axis are the times in seconds and each dot represents up to ten moves. With the most simple of statistical analyses, the so-called “Lookandsee analysis” one can already see some discrepancies. Both the world champion and I have a very similar distribution of times, with most times being in the range up to ten seconds, with the peak at the category 0 seconds (moves shorter than 1 sec). For the cheater, who had about the same ELO as me, it is different in both his OK games and his fraudulent ones.

In his OK games, he too made a lot of moves in fifteen seconds or less, but he was much slower, with a peak at five seconds category. That indicates the cheater was taking a lot more time than he should even for easy moves, as befits someone who is currently trying to punch way above his weight class.

In his fraudulent games, this becomes even more profound. Almost no moves are made faster than five seconds (and those are usually the first moves of the game) and most take between ten to fifteen seconds.

If the moves were adhering to a normal distribution, there would be a number of easy-to-make visualization tools and statistical tests available. Alas, they do not. I have speculated that they will have Weibull distribution, which was speculation based on the fact that they have a lower limit (0 seconds) and an upper limit (duration of the game, also 10 minutes). As it turns out, Lognormal distribution is even better fit, although Weibull did fit occasionally too.

In a probability plot, if the fit is good the dots should be distributed along with the straight diagonal line and between the curved lines of the same color, which they mostly, although not perfectly, are.

You might say that AD (Anderson-Darling) values say otherwise, and they do, they are a bit high. The p-value also is too low for a good fit for those tests where it could be calculated. But that is in part a problem with these statistical tests, which generally do not work very well with grainy data. And here we have all times rounded to 0.1 seconds, so it is very grainy at the lower end, where, coincidentally, most of the data is. I could transform the data, but it was a lot of work as it is and I am sure I am losing some readers already. So take my word for it that both Lognormal and Weibull distributions are reasonable approximations.

So as a last picture, let us look at a histogram with an overlaid best-fit lognormal curve.

I am sure that chess.com has software solutions to dig through the data of suspected cheaters and to dredge up comparisons similar to these for all the points that I have mentioned. There probably are some correlations between move time and its quality with regard to the situation on the board etc.

All in all, I do believe that when someone is banned on chess.com for cheating that they were indeed cheating. And there are things that cheaters will probably never be able to fool. The example here is, I think, one of them.

In order to cheat, either the cheater or their assistant must go through the loop of inputting the moves into a computer, waiting for the algorithm to spit out the answer and then inputting the answer to the game. This inevitably prolongs the time. So to keep the move times consistent with those of an honest player might be the most difficult, if not impossible, hurdle for these scumbags.

A Handcrafted Mausoleum and Graveyard

The first Monday of the new year demands something special, and thanks to Avalus we have it. Behold the wonderful mausoleum and graveyard to accompany his Wizard Manse and Observatory.

No town frozen by magic and populated with the undead is complete without a graveyard. So here is my interpretation. I tried making it creepy but also quite peaceful compared to the other buildings that are in ruins.

Again mostly cardboard, with a wooden base, a leftover from furniture. The tombs are just — stuff I had around. I wanted to avoid any real life imagery for the headstones, so I used several established fantasy designs. The fence is pieces of foam and some cocktail sticks a flatmate bought years ago and never used.

Sneaky bit: The mausoleum is removable. Actually, for storage purposes but it might be used for some reveal in a game with a gamemaster.

Also, one work in progress shot. Making these kinds of roofs is actually really satisfying. Just cardboard strips cut with some irregularity and then bend and warped a bit und finally glued to a roof substrate. Just handling the house to take the photos makes me want to make another small house just to have an excuse to build another roof. :D

So let’s take 2020 to the grave!

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

The Wizard’s Manse and Observatory

I have something wonderfully whimsical to share from Avalus,

A wizard manson with an observatory:

All made from cardboard, leftover foamboard and a few bits of fly netting and translucent paper for the windows. I did not make many photos of the building process.

It was really fun to craft models again and over the next month or so I created a handful of different buildings.

When I was younger I was a regular tabletop wargamer. Over the years, the gaming fell away, but the crafting and painting of miniatures and terrain pieces stayed, if somewhat periodically. In the first week of the lockdown, some stuff in my flat broke and I had to order replacements over the internet (something I do not like to do). And then, when I had a few boxes and other carton pieces, ready to be thrown away, inspiration struck.

I am not sure yet, what I will now do with them, as I don’t really play more than once a year. Probably gift them to my gaming friends.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

 

TNET 43: Chess Anyone?

I did not know that there was an Online Olympiad for People with Disabilities, but I think it is a good idea.

The chess community has a long and unpleasant history of sexism and elitism, so it is good to see that the problems are being recognized by the current top chess brass and some progress towards the sport being more inclusive is being made.

I have learned to play chess at the age of five before I learned to read. I have always thought that I am no good at it because I was mostly playing with my father and my brother, neither of whom I could defeat with any reasonable frequency. I still could not beat my brother well into my thirties. That did discourage me a lot, especially since my brother – who was a competitive player, albeit not a top one – remarked often “OOH, you are starting with Italian today”. This always irritated me because I was never able to remember the names of beginnings, except those where the name was logically bound to the position on the board (like King’s Gambit, Four Knights). My memory does not work that way, rote memorization was always nigh impossible for me.

Anyhoo, in the spring of this year, I have created an account on www.chess.com and I started to play regularly. And since online gaming does match people with opponents of approximately the same strength, I am not losing all the time. And I have found out two things. First – I am definitively not at a competitive level, no surprise there. Second – I have Dunning-Kruegered myself, I am not as bad as I thought – I am in the top quintile, so I could probably win four out of five matches with random casual players.

If anyone is interested in chess and would like to play, let me know.

Open thread, talk whatever you want, but assholery is not allowed.

Previous thread.

It’s almost Winterfest and we want your photos

Ugh! ©voyager, all rights reserved.

©

The Freethought Blogs Winterfest is coming up on Saturday, December 5th, and we have all sorts of good things planned to entertain you. For the full schedule of events, you can click here or on the Winterfest logo at the top of the left sidebar on any of our blogs here at FtB. The schedule is still being finalized, so be sure to check back often to see what’s up and when, but there are lots of good things being planned. Here at Affinity, we’re hosting a Winterfest Photofest beginning Monday, November 30th, and we’d like to add your photos to the collection. You can submit your pictures to affinitysubmissions@gmail.com and please let me know what name or nym you’d like them credited to. That address is permanently in our left sidebar underneath the colourful, percolating head, and if you click that link, it will open up an email form for you to conveniently use.

Why do we do all of this? That’s easy; it’s because we love you. Also, we’re celebrating an important anniversary. It was one year ago that we celebrated our legal victory over Dr. Snowflake, Richard Carrier. We’re still digging out from under the legal bills of that mess, and we would greatly appreciate any support you’re able to provide. You can donate directly to our Paypal account here or with a credit card here. I know this is a tough time of year for many folks (especially in 2020), so an appreciative audience is also plenty of support. Please tune in and let us entertain you.

 

It’s September Fun, Fun, Fun(d raising)

Freethought Blogs is creatively trying to raise funds to pay off the sizeable legal bills incurred in the fight against the SLAPP suit brought by Richard Carrier. SLAPP claims are nuisance suits, intended to shut down free speech by making it expensive, so even though we “won,” we still have large legal bills to pay off.

That’s where you, Dear Reader, can help. We need your donations, and we’re prepared to earn them! We’re hosting a series of events, The Carnival of Curiosity, beginning on Friday, September 25 and running through the weekend of Sept. 26 & 27. You can click the link above or on the large banner on the top left side panel to see the schedule of events, and we’re sure that you’ll find something that interests you. It’s going to be a full weekend of festive fun, and any donation is helpful. If you’d like to contribute, you can do so at PayPal.me/freethoughtblogs.

In addition to the Carnival of Curiosity, several bloggers are having auctions with all proceeds going to the fundraiser.

  • Iris at Death to Squirrels is auctioning off a chance to interview her or be interviewed by her.
  • Marcus at Stderr is auctioning 4 of his beautiful art pieces.
  • William at The Bolingbrook Babbler is auctioning a PDF collection of Babbler articles from his pre-Freethought Blog days that looks deliciously interesting. He is also planning to read an excerpt from his in-progress book  The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story if donations reach $200.00, and if donations get to $500.00, he will read it live.
  • TD Walker at Freethinking Ahead is auctioning a half-hour creative coaching session via Zoom.

Doesn’t all that look like fun? You bet it does, and we want you to join us and make a donation if possible. More events may be added, so be sure to check for future announcements.

A Spider Puzzle

Avalus has sent us a puzzle today. Somewhere in this photo there’s a spider. Since the spider is hard to find  I’m going to put the photo on the front page. If you’re arachnophobic please skip past this post, but if you’re not can you find the spider? The answer is below the fold. (click for full size)

Where is the Spider? ©Avalus, all rights reserved

[Read more…]

Slavic Saturday

Slavic people are today mostly seen as “white” to the point that a Polish game developer was in USA criticised for making the computer game Witcher 3 without any people of color that could be recognized as such in modern world. Similarly a few years later a Czech developer was criticised for the same thing in a game Kingdom Come: Deliverance, deliberately set in medieval Bohemia and made as historically accurate as possible.

Whilst I understand all the arguments for the importance of diversity in representation, I think all these critiques were misguided, because they were targeted at the wrong target – they criticised products of one culture from the perspective of another culture with entirely different roots.

Slavs are indeed white when you look at the color of their skin, and by Gob do we have an awful lot of white supremacists and neo-nazis today. However a white nationalist or even a neo-nazi Slav makes about as much sense as white nationalist or neo-nazi (or Trump loving) Jew.  After all, Jews have white skin too. And after all, how many Jew-hating Arabs and Arab-hating Jews know that both Jews and Arabs are in fact semitic tribes? I would venture a guess that many do not, or they do but don’t care. People are perfectly capable of being misguided, misinformed, bigoted and downright willfully ignorant and hold contradictory ideas in one head, so there is that.

Historically Slavs migrated in the Europe from east and north, displacing come celtic and germanic populations. As a result they lived mostly in the woodlands and mountains of north, central and East Europe and they were comparatively poor. They had no written language that we know of, so very little is in fact known about their culture or religion. Some knowledge can be derived from linguistics, some from written reports by neighbouring nations, some from archeology, but Slavs established themselves in Europe during the dark ages and knowledge is therefore scarce.

However it is sometimes alleged that their own name for themselves – Slovan (originating from the word sloviť=to speak) might have been the origin of the word sclavus (Lat), and later on Sklave (Ger) and  slave (En) . Because these poor people were popular sources of cheap slave labor for neighbouring Germanic and Italic tribes through the early history of Europe way over to the Ottoman Empire in Middle East later on.

And even apart from slavery, a lot of the time right from Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages until very recently most Slavic nations were second-class citizens in countries led by people of other nationalities. Only Russians have managed to be oppressors and not oppressed in this period, and ironically they mostly oppressed and sometimes even tried to exterminate other Slavs. Both Czechs and Poles did not have any independency right until the end of WW1, after which they had few short decades to get the taste of self-determination before being swept into the bloody cauldron of WW2.

Under the Third Reich the Slavs were seen as barely people. They were not targeted for outright extermination like Jews and Roma, but the intent was to put them back into their proper place – slavery (that is why I think that a neo-nazi Slav is an ignoramus and a completely daft person – if nazis got their way, he would think scrubbing floors with his own toothbrush is a posh job).

After the WW2 all slavic nations ended up being wrapped behind the Iron Curtain under the not-so subtle hegemony of USSR. This time at least it was not overtly attempted to obliterate local cultures and languages (not here anyway). But whilst the Russian rule did try and manage to instill some sense of Pan-Slavic belonging, they also managed to instill some anti russian sentiments along the way (in Poland on top of the hundreds of years long grudge Poles held against Russians from the time of the Russian Empire). And the sense of always being second class, not being allowed anything truly ours, pervaded.

In this sense, sprouting of some nationalism after the fall of the Iron Curtain was perhaps inevitable, what with the nations trying to finally re-assert themselves for good. I do think white nationalists are going about the business the wrong way, proclaiming your superiority over others is not the right thing to do and it is also demonstrably false. But I also think that Polish game developers who make a PC game packed with people who bear the typical facial features of contemporary Poles, with architecture and ornaments of medieval Slavic kingdoms and based on Slavic mythology, or Czech game developers making a game set in a very distinct and specific area of medieval Kingdom of Bohemia with focus on historical accuracy are doing nothing wrong and are indeed going about it the right way. And even though these works of art have managed to succeed on an international stage, their creators were in no way obliged to fall in step with USA culture and reflect USA racial make-up.

Those who criticised these two games for a lack of representation of POC have failed to realize that they were essentially trying to bully others into giving their own culture away and let the USA to appropriate said culture the way USA likes it. In fact, they should take these games as an opportunity to learn that “white people” are not a monolith and that outside of USA there is a lot more that defines your ancestry and your culture than the color of your skin. This way said critics were – probably unwittingly – perpetuating the USA collonialism ad absurdum, by requiring everyone everywhere to reflect contemporary social ills of USA.

We do not need nor want to do that, thank you very much. We have our own social ills to deal with.

Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 17 – Finale

When I have made my first, very crude, knife some twenty years ago, my friend’s father commented:

Charly, people want it to be handmade, but they do not want it to be immediately apparent that it is handmade.

That advice stuck in my mind so when I have read Feet of Clay from Terry Prattchett much later, following line resonated with me:

The thing looked like the kind of pots Igneous despised, the ones made by people who thought that because it was hand-made it was supposed to look as if was hand-made, and that thumbprints baked in the clay were a sign of integrity.

It is not impossible to get a handmade thing to look just perfect, but it takes great skill and experience and I am not there yet, although I might be heading in the right direction. The pictures hide some of the mistakes and imperfections that were not intended and are apparent – for example the blade is not symmetrical against the handle and the hand guard, so when it is in the scabbard the upper part of the guard sticks out more than the lower, and it is visible. Despite my best efforts the blade got a scratch from a grain that got somehow into the scabbard, and the handle got scratched too in the meantime. Which was inevitable if ever the knife were used, and I do intend to use it at least somehow, to see how it fares.

 

But enough of that, let me present to you the dagger of one of the most kickass characters in fantasy literature known to me, Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, aka the Lion Cub of Cintra, granddaughter of queen  Calanthe Fiona Riannon of Cintra, aka the Lioness of Cintra and daughter of Pavetta Fiona Elen and Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd the Emperor of Nilfgaard. This is my interpretation of the dagger worn by her as a sidearm in the computer game Witcher 3 – I noticed that dagger right on my first encoutner with her in my gameplay and I immediately wanted to make one. I photographed it on a bobbin lace doily that my mother has just made for her sister’s birthday. Bobbin lace is period/theme appropriate and I think it provides nice contrast and improves the quality content of these pictures by no small amount.

 

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I tried to tie the leather strap as close to how it is done on the in-game model as I could manage. The only significant difference from the game model is the red leather on the scabbard, instead of brown.

 

If you look closely, here you can see that the hand guard does not stick out symmetrically on both sides of the scabbard.

 

Overall length ca. 395 mm, blade ca. 257 mm long, 23 mm wide at the guard, single-edged. Good cutting ability although not as good as a dedicated cutting blade would have. It is still a stabbing weapon.

 

Handle is turned out of maple wood. Rings are allingend perpendicularily to the blade so the shiny lignin spots are symmetricaly with it on both sides of the handle.

 

Rondel has ten hammered grooves giving it a daisy like look. All metal parts are polished to mirror finish and buffed with jeweler’s rouge.

 

Although the handle looks massive, the knife is weighed towards the tip when put on a flat surface. I guess it could be thrown, but I do not intend to try it for fear of the blade breaking.

 

My signature for knives from now on – my initials in Glagolitic script. This is also the writing used in the Witcher games, so it also thematically appropriate.

Youtube Video: Nurgle Plague Sword Build

Michael Cthulu is not a smith, he is a welder. And he does not make historically accurate replicas, he makes ridiculous, humongous swords from computer games that have no chance whatsoever to being actually functional in the real world.

But he is entertaining to watch and he has shown some tricks in his videos that are valuable to me in my workshop – like his unique working goggles with replaceable glasses.

He also seems to be a genuinely nice person, at least judging by the ammount of his products he auctions for charity ever since he makes enough money for comfortable living.

Mild content warning – the video takes almost an hour and contains half-naked and very hairy dude in his fifties doing dangerous things with fire, electricity and fast spinning machinery.