In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, a cheating scandal has thrown the chess world into uproar. In round 3 of the Sinquefield Cup, Hans Niemann defeated Magnus Carlsen with the Black pieces. It was a big upset as Carlsen rarely loses in classical chess, especially with White against a much lower rated player.
I enjoyed your article and the point about opponent cheating being "baked in" into one's ELO is one worth taking.
Whether or not Niemann cheated is moot. However, Magnus's response is not and he acted petulantly when he withdrew from the tournament without being candid about the withdrawal.
However, I view those linked issues as minor scandals relative to what Chesscom did. They made their own accusation about Niemann cheating to a greater extent than he let on. They are the most powerful organization in chess and by banning Niemann without presenting the public any evidence they have come down on the side of their new business partner Magnus. This is a conflict of interest.
Serious accusations of public import should be backed *by those who made them* with publicly available evidence. Otherwise, this is just a low stakes kangaroo court.
There are a couple angle about all this "online cheating" topic that almost nobody mentions:
-The fact that professional players just play online chess, risking their reputation in case of a false positive happens (Nigel Davies is the only example I know concerned about it. For example: https://twitter.com/GMNigelDavies/status/1513141205974106114 ). If I were a professional player I would only play online on an anonymous account. I mean, otherwise I'd be extraparanoid about not doing anything that looked suspicious.
-The fact that players accused of online cheating just don't have any chance to defense themselves. The fact that the process is perfectly opaque (and for sure the the algorithms to detect cheaters being secret are of no help here). Sooner or later an online player will sue one of the online chess servers fro defamation, and once lawyers go into the playground it's gonna be lots of fun.
EDIT: just to add some weight to my "extraparanoid" point: https://old.reddit.com/r/chess/comments/xbvkqn/according_to_ukranian_fm_expert_on_cheating/
This incident should not be referred to as a "cheating scandal" absent actual evidence of cheating.
I propose "Magnus withdrawal scandal".
Nate, does anyone know how Chess.com is paying for Play Magnus? If it is issuing stock instead of paying in cash, Magnus could become one of the shareholders of Chess.com, which would make the chain of influence even more complicated.
I must make here another futile attempt to rescue the actual meaning of the phrase “beg the question” from its rampant and nonsensical misuse.