Ivanov the Terrible (cheat)

This post will cover a few angles on the viability of human chess. As already mentioned on da-boss because of the ubiquitous computer programs cheating in competitive chess is rife. Some players use chess engines run on smartphones to gain advantage over their opponents in analysing complex positions which arise in games. This can be done during well-timed dashes to the toilet. But there are also others who go full hog and effectively wire themselves to computers. Some will carry on them pagers which relay the moves recommended by chess engines run on remote computers operated by their accomplices. There are also rumours that some cheats have small devices running chess engines hidden in their shoes or strapped to their bodies.

No one is sure what method has been employed by the Bulgarian cheat, Borislav Ivanov:

ivanov05

Some believe he hid the illegal goods in his platform shoes, others have noticed suspicious bulges showing through the shirts he wears. Either way the set up has worked for him – he has won a few tournaments beating much higher rated opponents. The problem is that over 90% of his moves in the best games he played were the first recommendation of one particular leading chess engine Houdini 3.0. Ivanov manged to negotiate a few body searches at tournaments, although in the games he was searched he did not play well. The game of cat-and-mouse ended in December 2013 in Navalmoral, Spain when he refused to take off his shirt after a suspicious device was spotted bulging near his armpit:

http://www.chess.com/news/official-statement-on-the-ivanov-story-1152

He subsequently left the tournament venue and withdrew from the competitions citing unjustified scrutiny awarded to him by the officials. Most commentators of the Ivanov affair focus on the immorality of cheating in sport but I believe there is another angle worth exploring. If a commonly available computer program which can be had for under USD100:

http://www.amazon.com/Houdini-PRO-Strongest-Multiprocessors-ChessCentrals/dp/B009XE41F4

can easily beat top Grand Masters then maybe we should move on from human chess. We can still play the acoustic musical instruments and write creatively better than computers so let us focus on this. Also, computers cannot program themselves so humans will never become completely redundant – as long as we pick the fights we can win, not the ones we have already lost.

On a different tack – if the human chess do not implode I am sure the socialists will sooner or later start fiddling with it. When you think about it the way competitions are structured is a perfect example of the free market forces in action. One’s ranking goes up or down depending solely on the game results and the class of the opposition played. Factors like socio-economic background or ethnicity are not taken into account – the ranking is purely performance based. While the rot has already started when womens titles (with lower requirements) were introduced the core of the human chess is still sound. The socialists always look for the next morally justified crusade so chess are bound to get in their cross-hairs at some point. How about a Ministry for Chess which would centrally distribute the titles? The norms for Blacks or Hispanics would obviously be lower to compensate for their poor social standing. Since the not-so-bright people cannot be deprived of access to the highest accolades in World chess multi-tiered competitions would be introduced, IQ being the qualifying denominator. The IQ would of course be assessed by the state officials under guidance from psychologists and counsellors…

If this is the future of human chess there is one more reason to give up on it straight away.

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