I get this question a lot when Organisers and Arbiters are evaluating Tornelo as the platform for hosting their High Stakes chess tournament.
“How can we ensure there is absolutely no cheating whatsoever?”
The best practice in this area is still evolving, but we can learn from organisations leading the way, such as the European Chess Union. Last weekend Tornelo hosted the European Youth Online Chess Championships. With 724 teenage participants (the most demographically likely to cheat) in a High Stakes Event (high motivation to cheat) the event achieved a 100% Fair Play result! That’s right, zero cheating. How did they do it?
1. An Environment Condusive to Fair Play
The platform you choose to host the event plays a large part in creating an Environment where cheating is less likely to occur. The ECU used Tornelo in order to:
- Use Real Names for all players
- Provide Visible authority figures (ie Arbiters)
- Give immediate feedback
- Allow repeat interactions (many players knew each other)
- A peer group that provided a positive influence
A supportive environment alone won’t eradicate cheating entirely, but you can be sure that without it, there is no chance of succeeding. Just look at how the non-chess world combats graffiti, obesity, trolling and other impulse control problems. For more, read this blog post.
In addition, the ECU had a number of supervisory processes in place:
- Local arbiters with players in Hubs
- Screen share and video for all players
Below you can see the ECU Technical Guidelines and a Malaysian Chess Federation discussion paper about Hybrid events which discusses Fair Play.
3. Verification of Fair Play
The last line of defence was provided by a correlation analysis on every game. Critically, this did not attempt to “catch” or “disqualify” players, but provided arbiters with statistical evidence around the likelihood of a player having received assistance.
- Tornelo displays a live Fair Play report
- Dr Kenneth Regan provided a daily report and a more detailed post-event report
I am confident that every event can create an environment which is conducive to Fair Play, with a system of checks and balances to enforce that expectation, and a final line of defence being post-game analysis of every game to verify fair play.
Cheating in chess is a solvable problem when using the right tools.