Big money and big temptation in the world of online chess | So Good News


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500 years since the creation of chess. But in the last couple of years, it has become a completely different game.

Today, you don’t need to be a grandmaster to become a chess celebrity.

But with online success comes big money.

And with money comes temptation… such as the case with American grandmaster Hans Niemann, who was accused of cheating more than 100 times.

“This has never happened on this scale. There have been cheating scandals, but not like this,” said chess grandmaster Ken Rogoff.

Today is, At the point: Computers, fraud scandals and chess.


Danny Rensch, is the chief chess player at, the world’s most popular online chess platform. Co-author of’s 72-page report accusing Grandmaster Hans Niemann of cheating in online games. (@DanielRensch)

Levi Roseman, international chess master. Full-time commentator and content creator under the name GothamChess. (@GothamChess)

Anna Kramling, one of the most popular chess players on the Twitch streaming platform. (@AnnaCramling)

Also featured

Aishwarya Kumar, Features writer for (@kumaraishwarya)

Highlights of the interview

Tell us about Hans Niemann. Who’s she?

Danny Rensch: “Hans Niemann is an American grandmaster who, like many of his generation, grew up playing chess on the Internet. He was always recognized as a very talented future player. We had him on and even our scholastic side … from an early age. since.”

How typical or atypical was his rise through the ranks?

Danny Rensch: “Our report breaks down many different angles to look at this. And we take our research into statistics and try to identify patterns and potential anomalies in how people play seriously. That’s the core of what drives our fraud detection. , in that report, as we say, Hans is very is a strong player and always has been. So no one can deny that. But of course there were some moments, some events and some things that seemed particularly strong.

“On the one hand, it’s exceptionally strong chess. On the other hand, if it doesn’t match the normal patterns of growth or what we see in other players, it could be something that turns heads. So, despite our findings online, it’s the strength of his game and his last two It’s something that’s interesting to note on a statistical level, with rapid growth like that over the years.”

Niemann on fraud charges

Danny Rensch: “We don’t necessarily have evidence that he cheated. And of course Magnus stands up to his actions. And whether people like Magnus’s form of defiance, it’s clear that he’s forcing my consent into a very important chess conversation. for us to face. And to solve the problem of cheating. You know what you would say, there was a lot of interesting information on the Internet about how Hans received. moves.

“I won’t go into all that. But what I will say is that I think people on the outside looking into the chess world might not appreciate it at first glance. Twenty years ago, IBM built a supercomputer to beat Garry Kasparov.

“It’s a very fast, free overnight chess computer that’s available on a handheld device like your phone, it’s open source, and it’s not only better than anyone can get with a slow internet connection, but it’s better than the best.” you don’t have to play the computer’s best moves to get down.

“Our artificial intelligence masters have come so far, if you will. They’re the dominant beast in the chess world. So if somebody’s getting information, it’s not like stealing signs in baseball. Where they have to do it, they get the sign, but they’re still on the fastball. or you have to do it in a curved group. In chess, if you get internal information from the computer about what the best move is, you can do it blindly.

“And a Hans Niemann-level or Magnus Carlsen-level grandmaster doesn’t need any information. Even just a few tips per game would be enough to beat a very, very strong grandmaster or even a world champion. So, again, I have Hans doing this. I don’t have any proof of how it did. As my report said and as you said in the opening, we take anomalies into account and we definitely provide research and statistical evidence. maybe we need to look further.

“But we don’t have definitive proof that he did it. But if you believe Magnus, if he’s someone in the camp, and you realize that computers are much better than people, I guess you’d say spyware. Anyone have a way to get information on a chess game? Lots of people are looking for it. . [It’s] What the chess world is struggling with now and trying to do something about.”

In the world of online chess

Danny Rensch: “Until some crazy events happened in 2020, the global pandemic led many people to play games and watch content online. Then a little Netflix show called The Queen’s Gambit was watched by many people. We had about it. 1 million daily active users and only about 3.5 million monthly. now has 20 million monthly active users and more than 5 million daily active users. That means 5 million unique people around the world log in every day to play chess.

“And before we talk about chess players. … We’re looking at over 20 million monthly active users, over 5 million daily active users. And we have a lot of opportunities ahead of us. There’s a lot of opportunities ahead of us. Different genres and interests people get into chess. You see it everywhere, from NFL stars to celebrities on our site. And it’s a fun and exciting time to be in chess. And that’s certainly something we hope will continue for years to come.”

About new and new ways to play chess

Levi Roseman: “When we talk about new and new ways of playing, we’re talking about the first ten or 15 moves of the game, the opening phase. Historically, you have what’s called a theory. The first phase is generally accepted as the best game. And all the best players follow that theory. Agreed. It’s really taken off since computers came out, because they can offer different ways of playing that no one thought of before. Especially in the last two or three years, like you said, things have accelerated.

“Hundreds of thousands of games are now played online that wouldn’t normally be played. So the progression of these developments in the opening phases of chess and the availability of resources to learn all of these things through books or online. Courses have also increased dramatically. So combined with computers, keeping your ideas alive It’s actually very difficult. At that time, you’re right, it was a romantic scene.

Some of those Queen’s Gambit clips were pretty fun. You can play a game of chess that no one has ever seen before, and no one will see a particular move played in seven moves for another six months or a year. Now that seventh move will be played online 5,000 more times over the next 30 days. So it changed the game. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I don’t know if we are getting too much information and will soon run out of resources. But it accelerated the level and understanding of the game in a way we never thought possible.”

That sounds like a good thing, right?

Levi Roseman: “Yes, I would think so. But let me say one day that I could take a chess book published in April of a certain year with a certain opening idea and use it successfully for the rest of the year with, say, a 75% win rate. I no longer I can’t do that. So being a professional chess player these days is basically a full-time job. You can’t do it part-time. Do 10 hours. It’s a 40-hour week, if you’re constantly learning, constantly trying to stay ahead. That’s good, but over the top. It’s very stressful for people trying to stay.”

About the future of chess, online and beyond

Anna Kramling: “I think a lot of people are just going to play online, but I think some people want to experience a very different kind of chess on the board. And one thing I would add is just. It’s helped us to feel that when we’re following the games, they’re at a higher level than they think they are. They can always end up looking at those who are watching those games. So I think that’s another great thing that technology has helped us do.

Related reading

ESPN: “Chess Cheating Scandal and Inside the Battle for the Game’s Soul” — Four minutes before the start of the US Chess Championship at the St. Louis Chess Club in the center of American chess, 12:56 p.m. In the last half hour, most of the 13 other Americans competing in the championship arrived, some with coffee in hand, others with bags of fruit, and were escorted to the tournament hall.”


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