Saturday, December 05, 2015

Starcraft vs Chess cheats

Posted by Andrew Ooi

For someone who loves tech, I find it is easier to cheat in chess than in Starcraft. For example it's too easy to cheat online with engines and I have to admit I have beaten many stronger players with controlled use of engines even with cheating detection on  in several online playing site. That's not to say I condone cheating.

It's just frustrating to control the cheats because for one simple fact.

It is just too easy to cheat!

I rarely play chess nowadays online or over the board,

Even over the board it is quite easy to cheat.

Case in point. Using a smart watch. It looks innocent but being a programmer I know it's all to easy to write a custom app to communicate moves from a third party to the player wearing the watch. It doesn't have to be visual either. The message can be passed on using indiscernible and unnoticeable vibrate pulses. For example d2-d4 is a simple 4 pattern pulse than may just take less than 20 seconds to convey.

That is why we are seeing in some top level tournaments, metal detectors are used !! It is extreme but what to do? Too much money is on the line and cheats just ruins everything.

I like to  compare chess and Starcraft because both a ompetitive one vs one games involving money in competitions.

The big difference that competitive StarCraft involves a large audience, even between only 2 players. Cheating is harder because dexterity skills is called for and no engine can help in out thinking your opponent. If all of a sudden the player is making some move counters that looks like he can see his opponent builds and moves, it will look quite suspicious indeed. In chess too there may be suspicion if a weak chess player is suddenly beating higher rated players consistently. But that is based on results and can only be seen after a few games and checking the moves against an engine.

That is not to say there is no cheating in Starcraft. They too can get help in the form of communication but counter measures such as ear phones and ear plugs are mandatory.

The player wears an in-ear head phone and top of that is covered with ear muffs to cancel out commentators on the stage as this may help them with their play if they can listen in. Most even go further with sound proof rooms.

Of course strict enforcement like no electronic device on your person can be a good cheating deterrant but that's quite taxing on the organisers I think. Metal detectors. Really?