Know the Dark Side
- Aug 14, 2007
I trust this quote will shrink when I reply to it.Here's my take on correcting some of the narrative in here.
Magnus definitely prefers Lichess to chess.com, so the idea that Magnus is like a chess.com insider/shill or whatever doesn't hold water.
If chess.com "took action" a year ago you could have easily complained they were too hasty.
Chess.com has already explained some of their delay - they were waiting for Hans to respond and to do a more thorough investigation besides the automatic process. Hans didn't express remorse. He didn't admit to the cheating he was accused of, instead he admitted to prior cheating which he wasn't accused of. This pissed off chess.com's CEO and led to their thinking that this didn't simply warrant a suspension.
Going after a verified GM and banning him for cheating is a potentially much bigger deal than a random internet troll.
You're all assuming there has been no behind the scenes discussion with FIDE. This is a bad assumption imo. In fact, FIDE has barely been mentioned in this whole thread when they are at the heart of this.
It's easy and cheap to say Magnus handled this poorly, that he should have contacted the proper authorities and gone through the proper procedure. This assumes there is a proper procedure and there are proper authorities. Very bad assumptions.
FIDE is an archaic and corrupt organization that is slow to change, has bumped heads against its top players many times in the past, and is primarily focused on holding onto their own authority/prestige.
FIDE's answer has been "Ken said he didn't cheat so he didn't cheat". It's not hard to imagine that they do not want to publicly verify that chess.com's anti-cheat detection is much stronger than their own.
The potential for cheating has exploded in the last decade with technological improvements allowing stockfish code to fit in a thimble. FIDE has not kept up. It might not even be possible to keep up, but it's certainly not possible if you don't try.
It was widely believed among top players that Hans is a cheater before this blew up. Super GMs invest a ton of time analyzing each other's games and have a much better understanding of when something doesn't make sense than you, I, or an algorithm does.
The clamor for absolute smoking gun court of law proof is not necessarily applicable to all fields or all assertions. If we only punished cheaters who were caught redhanded with a device in their ear, we'd only catch the very worst of the cheaters.
If a magician performs a trick, I do not need to know how the trick was performed to be 100% confident that the magician does not have superhuman powers.
The evidence as I understand it is based on:
- chess.com's algorithm.
- A performance record that suggests he went from a 2400 to a 2700 level player instantly, an unprecedented feat to say the least.
- A confessed history of cheating when he was younger.
- His coach is a cheat.
- Analysis that shows a non-normal distribution of accurate games, with a crazy outlier for how many 90%+ accurate games he's played. *I would say this requires some more details as to how accurate moves are measured (there can be more than 1 top move or top moves can vary based on engine and depth) as well as how it compares to a sampling from other top players. That said, this seems doable and I would hope is being done.*
- Suspicious moves. Arguably the strongest piece of evidence. Basically two types, small moves that don't actually execute on the plan the player has put in motion because that plan can't actually be stopped anyways. Or moves that violate intuitive chess principles, but a full 30+ depth analysis shows don't actually have any danger. These are perhaps the most damning. It's not as simple as "he found a good move, so what". It's that if showed the move to a GM they'd think it was a blunder. He's been accused of making moves like this, and most damning, playing them quickly and giving complete non-answer trolls as to why in interviews.
While it may not be fair to Hans to be banned from tournaments under mere "suspicion", it's also not fair to all the other players to play with a suspected cheat. It dramatically affects how you can play against them. You may want to play uberconservatively for a draw, as you expect him to see through any traps/tricks/tactics you're setting up. It can also send you into a deep think when he plays a strange move "what is stockfish seeing that I'm not".
Magnus is not "right" by virtue of being a chess prodigy, but he's certainly smart enough to expect blowback from this accusation. Ignoring/dodging the issue is easier. Staking your reputation for the good of the sport as you see it, is a selfless act, not a selfish one.
If you have multiple authorities such that a cheater is banned from one platform and not others, or suspended for some period of time and allowed back, you're providing that cheater with ample practice to hone their craft to become undetectable.
Hans is now ~2700. The "assumption" here is that he started cheating heavily around ~2400 to play more like a 2700, most likely by having some key moves/games that would be more like a 3000+ ELO and averaging out. If we take all that to be true, the most vulnerable time for him is the rapid ELO improvement from 2400 to 2700, unofficially "super GM" status. Once he's established as a top player it becomes more difficult to say "there's no way he played this game himself". It becomes more credulous that yeah, he's playing the best moves because he's the best player. It also means at 2700 he can get invited to basically any tournament no matter how selective.
Magnus' reaction wasn't a temper tantrum, but it was intentionally public and dramatic. It was a whistleblower action on FIDE dragging their feet.
If not now, when? If not Magnus, who?
I agree with most of what you say here. I appreciate the additional points not covered and the different perspective.
The bit I disagree with the most is that there is a conflict of interest between Magnus and chess.com due to their millions of dollars valued deal over his app. Whether he prefers to use another site or not doesn't override the fact that they are essentially business partners.
If I were to bold the parts I concur with, it would be almost the entire thing in bold. I will concede points you have I might not judge as correct can be valid and I could be wrong about it, so I'd bold that too. The parts of it I knew already were like 90 percent of it. I hadn't discussed or considered the FIDE involvement or how valid their authority is, so that's something I will definitely chew on.
Magnus I would strongly agree and have already in this thread that it's ultra unusual for him to be unsporting or to single out another player, and while I understand his reasons, the part where I disagree with him is that he singled out Hans by name publicly without proof.
Even when he's right, which hasn't been shown to be true, that's a bad process. It will often lead to innocent people being judged poorly in the court of public opinion.
Allegations on no evidence are slanderous. If they happen to be right, the damage is mitigated and a bad actor gets justice. But it's very much a roulette with mostly innocent people on the wheel, which is immoral as a process.
I am glad Magnus has limited it to just known cheater Hans. But he's opened the flood gates and many others are now also accusing him publicly without evidence either.
If this was done to someone without a record of cheating it would be staggeringly wrong. Here, it's wrong by process and still could be marginally less staggeringly wrong, but still wrong.
I've caught people cheating in games, I've policed ban dodgers, I've had to moderate behavior that happened in private that I was not able to see, by a serial stalker or harasser harming someone on a site I moderated, just not within the boundaries of the site and having to only judge the matter by testimony.
In these situations it is easy to be right by going by track record. People who cheat in games continue to cheat in games. People who ban dodge continue to ban dodge. People who harass and stalk others continue to do so.
But I have also been wrong about a ban dodger, been wrong about a cheater, and had to limit myself to a moderation action saying you are forbidden to contact this person within our site, because I do not have actual evidence of harassment other than being told you are.
You have to factor in the "I could be wrong" factor and that is not being done when you publicly accuse someone, don't know how they cheated, have no evidence of cheating, can't prove it.
It's something people who enforce rules and ban cheaters and moderate bad behavior have to be aware of or they're not doing their jobs right.
Magnus isn't the chess police so it makes sense he'd behave irresponsibly. But it's very bad policy to do this and sets a terrible precedent that it's perfectly fine to do so.
It's always wrong when the allegation is wrong, and it's wrong by process even when the allegation is right. It's just something we can't do.
This is off topic, but I saw how the mob went after ProJared when he was accused by 3 people of wrongdoing. They savaged him publicly for months. When he hired lawyers and gathered evidence of his innocence, and quietly prepared his case, his reputation tanked, people called him a criminal, they harassed him and his friends, they went after all his business partners.
Then when he showed proof that those allegations were untrue, one by one, with screenshots proving the allegations were wrong in the words of his own accusers, and he could absolutely prove beyond all doubt he was not at a particular E3 panel with the person accusing him there, and that she mistook him for a very different human being, that proved he was absolutely innocent. The two accusers deleted their allegations and had no rebuttal to ProJared's defense at all. And the third person had absolutely no response to Jared's defense there. All three allegations were indeed false.
Allegations were all it took to destroy an innocent man. Allegations made without evidence.
And the public judged him based off of the allegations alone, and by his silence while he correctly got a lawyer because this is serious business, and slowly got to the bottom of why they were accusing him in the first place and gathering all the receipts of all their interactions with him and made it all public.
And I've seen the internet do this to several innocent people.
People tend to act like they're on a jury even when they never get to be in the courthouse, never get to see the actual evidence behind any allegation, never get to hear the defense, and then we act like the jury is wrong when we weren't there if we disagree with the call.
The mob is often wrong. And it thinks it is right because most people agree with the mob. But popularity is not the basis of truth. Sometimes the truth is unpopular or doesn't fit a satisfying narrative of this guy everyone hates is the bad guy we think he is.
It feels good to accuse and be right, and no one ever wants to take responsibility when the accusation goes out, and it's not right.
Somehow it still has to be right, and that's why you can't trust the mob.
A person can admit they got something wrong, sometimes. That's hard for individuals.
The mob never admits it is wrong, because they've got numbers on their side and someone will always make a specious argument saying why they're still right. And there's no need to ever admit you're wrong when you control the narrative by majority.
It's why I am always wary of teams. The team is always right, even when it's wrong. Their judgment is always right, and we don't need to see the evidence personally or be part of the trial to know the jury who knows more than we do got it wrong.
It's why I feel democracy is on its last legs. We just aren't responsible enough with the power of the popular opinion.
This is all a side note to the above note that Magnus is wrong to publicly accuse without evidence. It's not directed at drewisfat, to be clear. It's just my supporting reasons for being so opposed to what Magnus did here.
Keeping in mind I highly respect Magnus, was in his camp and thought he had a slam dunk case until he didn't, still vastly prefer him to Hans, and think this is the only thing he's ever really done wrong. And I think Hans is a cheat.
It's just that he's violating a pretty sacred principle for me. Maybe it is just my own principle, but I feel like it really should be everyone's.