In the world of online chess, cheating can be an Olympic sport all by itself. Cheaters run rampant without an arbiter present to keep things in check. You might wonder: How does chess.com detect cheating?
Chess.com detects cheating by using a cheating detection tool and having a fair-play member review the report.
Keep scrolling to discover how the digital detectives at chess.com determine unfair play in more detail.
How chess.com Detect Cheating or Unfair Play
As the world’s largest online chess platform, chess.com takes cheating very seriously. The fair-play team responsible for policing the website employs these steps to detect cheating:
1. Using a Cheating Detection Tool
Chess.com uses a sophisticated fair-play system to detect cheating. This system uses a statistical model that evaluates the probability that a member is playing cleanly or using the assistance of a chess engine.
If chess.com suspects or receives reports of cheating, the fair-play team will load the game into the analysis tool. The computer will then compare the player’s every move against the engine’s top recommended moves.
It’s not uncommon for a strong player to make moves that match up with these top choices. However, playing a long series of computer moves is a major red flag.
Chess.com finds it highly suspicious for a player to play their last few games with a consistent 99% accuracy. In this case, the player faces automatic closure, which makes up roughly 75% of the monthly closures.
2. Human Review
For more complex cases, a fair-play team member will review the results before permanently closing the account.
What Constitutes Cheating on Chess.com?
Here’s a breakdown of what chess.com allows or doesn’t allow on the platform:
|Daily Chess||Live Chess (Bullet, Blitz, and Rapid)||Puzzle Rush and Rated Tactics|
|Chess engines (Chessmaster, Houdini, Stockfish, etc.)||X||X||X|
|Help from other people||X||X||X|
|Fixing game results (arranged games, intentional losing, or playing with multiple accounts)||X||X||X|
|Chess books, lessons, or videos||✔||X||X|
|Opening databases or game records||✔||X||X|
|In-game self-analysis tool||✔||Not available||Not available|
Here’s the kicker: You’re free to experiment with any of the tools mentioned above as long as they don’t impact ratings. These are cases where the rules of fair play don’t apply:
- Unrated tactics
- Games versus computer
- Games where both players are okay with using assistance
What Happens if You Get Caught Cheating on Chess.com?
If you’re found guilty of violating chess.com’s rules of fair play, you’ll get kicked out of the platform permanently.
Aside from that, chess.com will block you from creating new accounts through IP and hardware bans. Unfortunately, these methods are limited, and a few players have ways to circumvent them.
Chess.com will refund rating points if you’re at the receiving end of cheating. You’ll receive an email about the violation and your adjusted rating.
Then, you’ll find an icon next to the cheater’s name in your archives. If you hover over the icon, it’ll tell you exactly why they got busted. If you haven’t received an email after seven days, you can write to support so they can look into it.
How Long Does It Take chess.com to Catch Cheaters?
Chess.com’s ability to catch cheaters can vary in speed, taking anywhere from less than a day to up to a week.
The amount of available data likely plays a role in this inconsistency.
How Does chess.com Prevent False Positives in Cheating Detection?
Finding the balance between protecting innocent players and taking firm action against unscrupulous players can be challenging. So, chess.com intentionally allows for some false positives in their algorithm.
Setting a high threshold for evidence would let countless cheaters off the hook. Meanwhile, a low standard would catch almost all cheaters, but at the expense of wrongly closing honest players.
Luckily, chess.com has found the sweet spot, catching cheaters with only a handful of false positives.
If you get unjustly banned from chess.com, there’s still a glimmer of hope you’ll get your account back. You can file an appeal and present solid proof you weren’t cheating. Chess.com overturns about 5–6 closures out of every 18,000 per month.
How Common Is Cheating on Chess.com?
According to chess.com, cheating is much less common than you think. Their research shows less than 0.2% of players cheat on the website.
Here are the daily averages of closures:
- 800 for chess engineuse
- 120 for sandbagging, rating manipulations, and other cheating tactics
Compared to the 70,000 new users who join the platform every day, these averages are pretty low.
Does chess.com Prevent Cheating?
Let’s face it: With over 70 million users, preventing unfair play seems like a monumental task. That’s why chess.com continues to ramp up its efforts to stop cheaters in their tracks.
That said, chess.com have strict policies during official cash prize events to prevent all forms of cheating. So, if you’re a competitor, get your camera ready. Chess.com will likely ask you to share your computer screen and give a 360-view of your surroundings.
Plus, you might even have a proctor watching over you in person.
When to Report Cheating to Chess.com
Chess.com encourages members to report cases of suspected cheating. But how do you tell if your opponent is guilty of it?
The first thing you should do is check the player’s rating. If you have a high rating and a low-rated player crushes you in a match, you may want to use the analysis function to review the game.
However, remember that accuracy scores don’t automatically count as damning evidence of cheating. A beginner can capitalize on an opponent’s early mistakes or blunders, leading to high accuracy.
While chess.com can’t disclose the data and metrics used to catch cheaters, they’re doing everything they can to ensure cheaters don’t ruin the fun for everyone.
So, remember to always play fair and square. Keep reporting any suspicious activity, and focus on getting better, regardless of winning or losing the game.