During the pandemic, there has been an explosion of people playing games online. While that has been enjoyable for friendly games, problems can arise when it comes to serious tournaments that can influence the rankings that players have.
In the case of chess, the website chess.com is widely used. The main problem with cheating in chess arises because there are now very powerful chess engines that can rapidly analyze situations and suggest the best move. These engines are used by players to practice their game and by analysts at tournaments who report on games. In face-to-face contests, the use of such engines is not allowed while play is going on but when people are online, it becomes hard to monitor whether someone is having an engine running simultaneously to guide them. The only way to detect such cheating is statistical, to see if the quality of the moves made by a player lie outside the range that one might expect of someone with their ranking.
In chess, a controversy arose recently when Dadang Subur, an amateur player who had been playing exceedingly well online under the name @Dewa_Kipas and whose ratings had risen considerably in a short time, was accused by another player Levy Rozman of using chess engines to decide on moves. This article explains what happened.
On March 2, 2021, in one of his streams, Rozman (@GothamChess) played a 10-minute game on Chess.com against member @Dewa_Kipas. As Rozman noticed that the account had gained over 800 Elo points in just 11 days, he became suspicious. This suspicion was fueled by how his opponent regularly spent 10 seconds making moves, even when the choice was obvious. Such time usage often reveals that a player is using external assistance such as a chess engine.
When he lost the game, in front of 12,000 viewers, Rozman checked the account and saw that in almost all of his wins, Kipas had an accuracy of over 90 percent. Rozman concluded that he was dealing with a cheater and reported the account to Chess.com. A few hours later the account was closed for violating the Fair Play policy.
There was then a counter-protest, claiming that Subur had worked very hard to improve his game.
Deddy Corbuzier, an Indonesian actor and television presenter, suggested that Subur play a face-to-face game in his studio with Irene Sukandar, an International Master in chess, to see what could be learned. The live-cast of the games drew 1.25 million viewers. And the result?
Monday’s match between Sukandar and Subur involved serious money. The Indonesian technology and e-commerce company Tokopedia appeared to be the main sponsor, providing the equivalent of $10,500 that was then doubled by Indra Kesuma, an Indonesian businessman and YouTuber.
As it turned out, Subur could not repeat the high level of play as he had shown online. He lost 3-0 to Sukandar, making fairly basic mistakes.
Chess.com estimated his performance in these three match games at an Elo of 1127. His online performance rating exceeded 3000 Elo, the highest performance Chess.com’s Fair Play system calculates for human games. Despite the poor showing, he still made roughly $7,000 while Sukandar earned about $14,000.
It is of course possible that Subur was just having a bad day. But now the burden shifts to him to provide evidence that he is as good a player as his online rating suggested.