Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Hans Niemann Cheating

It is increasingly likely that Hans Niemann has been cheating at chess and Magnus Carlsen was entirely justified in his actions. Online chess is different from over-the-board chess, and the online host is very careful to note that its investigation is only of the former.  However, that is quite damning, as Niemann only copped to cheating twice, and it is now clear he cheated online over a hundred times. I don't think he should be made to give back any prizes or honors unless cheating is definitively proved, but I think anyone is justified in no longer believing him.  He has cheated in closely-related chess, he lied about it, and his rise is statistically unusual enough to arouse suspicion.

The line that keeps getting used, at least online, is "Let the chess speak for itself" by those defending Niemann because the allegations of cheating are unproven. I get the impression that this is some sort of catch-phrase among players for these situations. But that is not a logical defense.  If he is cheating successfully and undetectably, then his chess will be superior, but what it "speaks" will be a lie. 

Barry Bonds was an exceptional baseball player and would likely have made the Hall of Fame without steroids.  No one is saying he wasn't any good. No one is saying that Niemann isn't any good either.  You have to already be at a certain level to make use of advantages. In the unfortunate paradoxes of fame, Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Pete Rose are likely remembered more because they are not voted into the HOF, as it comes up every year.  Hans Niemann may get a similar legacy, of being shunned and banned, but remembered longer because of it.


Ganzir said...

I don't care if he only cheated online. FIDE should revoke his Grandmaster title and permanently ban him from competitive chess, and any other relevant federations (e.g., USCF) should follow suit. I guess what he did when he was 12 could be excused based on his age, but otherwise, zero tolerance is what chess needs.

Grim said...

I would go the other way. If it’s really true that computers can reliably beat the best grandmasters, it’s time to end competition chess. Playing chess for mastery is no longer a human activity; it should return to being a game we play with our children to help them learn to reason. Competition should only be held between competitive programs; human chess is now like women’s professional basketball.

Thos. said...

I think that's a sensible approach.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Men on horses or in cars can go faster than men unaided, yet we still have races of humans against humans. It's still interesting.

Ganzir said...

"Competition should only be held between competitive programs; human chess is now like women’s professional basketball."