When do you need a Ken Regan screening report?

Waiting until the end of an event and sending a PGN file to Ken might help to “catch” a cheater, but I am coming to the view that ‘catching cheaters’ is worse than ignoring cheaters…. your objective should be to Ensure Fair Play in your event, which requires real-time information, immediate intervention and behaviour change strategies for players when needed.

My Fair Play process is as follows.

1. Education
  • Conversations about Fair Play and setting clear expectations
  • Conversations about negative consequences of unfair assistance (not to the perpetrator, but to the community)
2. Environment
  • Players are using real names
  • A visible authority figure (arbiter)
  • Authority visible at all times
  • Repeat interactions between players (build community)
  • Ensure home environment is treated by the player as they would a “playing hall” in OTB events
3. Supervision

On its own supervision is ineffective and impractical. The effort to reward ratio is vastly impractical and a smart cheater can subvert any supervision with ease.

However, the fact that players think they are being supervised, or believe that they CAN be observed, does do a lot to reduce instances of unfair assistance. It will not solve the problems of a malicious cheater who with intent, forethought, planning and collaboration deliberately sets out to overcome your hurdles. But nor will a locked door stop a professional, career criminal….yet it is sufficient for our homes to simply lock the doors when we go on holidays for a week. As it is with chess tournaments, it is sufficient to provide simple hurdles.

Supervision may include some or all of:

  • Camera in Zoom
  • Screenshare through Zoom
  • Microphone in Zoom
  • Player to provide a ‘virtual tour’ of their playing area
  • Second camera
  • Local arbiter

For club or youth events I usually find that simply telling players that we CAN call on players to provide any or all of those supervision requirements is enough to ensure fair play.

We announce that a few players will be “selected” each round (and congratulations, by the way, if you get selected) for deeper supervision. This is because those players are playing particularly well and WE ARE ON THEIR SIDE… we need to be able to stand up for them at the end of the event if there are accusations and say confidently “this player is fair”… and we can only do that if we have supervised the player….so the player is now on our team and we will work together to supervise and confidently provide witness to Fair Play.

This is quite a different approach to that of “surveillance” and attempting to “catch players”.

4. Verification

This is where the statistics come to play. A last resort, a check that what we did worked. And primarily the report is to Demonstrate Fair Play, it helps to reassure you that players are playing at a human level.

The Tornelo Fair Play report should be used round-by-round to give you early-warning signals and help to select the 2%-5% of players who require supervision, or need deeper supervision. Sometimes just a conversation with the player, a tour of their desk and being seen to take notice, will change behaviour. And behaviour change is a win!

Usually it takes 2-3 games before this report is helpful in any accuracy sense, but the fact that you are SEEN to be doing something from the first round makes a continued impact.

The goal would be to have no players with suspicions, so at the end of the event you have NO NEED to send anything to Ken Regan…. if you are confident in the Fair Play of your players, if your players all Trust that the event was Fair, then it is success!! And success means Ken’s report isn’t needed.

If your program of player education, environment, supervision, early-warnings, behavior change attempts, conversations and deeper supervision has FAILED and you STILL have suspicions of certain players (you’ll see this first in Tornelo’s report) then you should email Ken Regan with the hope that your suspicions can be removed, or that he can add enough doubt to your mind that action is not required.

Remember, statistical reports should be used to CLEAR people’s good names and NOT to ‘catch a cheater’.

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