[ExI] sports blammisphy

spike spike66 at att.net
Sat Feb 5 18:03:48 UTC 2011

Hey since we are talking sports, I have one which you might be able to help

Recently the French chess federation has accused three of its own players of
cheating in last September's Chess Olympiad:


About ten years ago, as chess software was just getting to the point where
it could compete with top rated humans in money tournaments, we discussed on
ExI all the tricky ways cheaters could rig up some manner of I/O device to
communicate with a computer with one's hands in plain sight: use sensors on
the toes for instance.  To input a move, one would need to communicate four
numbers between 1 and 8 inclusive, so it would be row and column from the
starting square, and row and column from the ending square.  That scheme
might work for the human to computer data channel.  Then the computer could
send moves back with a speech generator, transmitting signals via radio to
an earpiece disguised as a hearing aid, or perhaps some contraption rigged
to the toes that would generate a number of pressure pulses.  For musically
inclined chess players, it might even be a tone generator glued to a tooth,
so that the wearer could hear it but no one else.

We recognized at the time that a good instrumentation engineer could do
something like this singlehandedly.  I think I could do it.

Next keep in mind that modern top chess tournaments now have significant
prize money.  The recent Tata Steel tournament gave out 10k euros (to an
American of all oddball things!)  Of course it is obviously nowhere near
golf-ish or tennis-ish prizes, enough to motivate cheaters.

Chess software has steadily improved, such that any one of a dozen
commercially available chess software packages running on a laptop can
defeat all humans regularly.  In fall of 2009, a strong South American
tournament with at least two grandmasters was won by a cell phone.  I mean
it wasn't calling a friend; it was completely self contained, playing
grandmaster strength chess.  Human grandmasters were losing at chess to a
goddam telephone!  Had I been there I would hurl the bastard to the floor
and stomp on it.

In any case, I thought of a way to look at the games after the fact, using
just the game scores, and figuring out a way to determine if the players had
somehow consulted a computer with some tricky I/O device.  The method I
thought of is computationally intensive and statistical, but I think it
would work.  I will post the idea later today or tomorrow, so you can have a
chance to think about it.  That way I can see if this idea is as cool and
tricky as I believed when I thought of it.  We could theoretically take the
game scores of all the games, see if any others among the several hundred
players in the Olympiad cheated.



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