FM Tilicheev Seeking to Restore Justice on Chess.com

Время публикации: 16.06.2015 06:14 | Последнее обновление: 16.06.2015 18:33

On June 2nd, the largest web chess community Chess.com hosted its traditional Titled Players Tuesday, which is a monthly blitz tournament with cash prizes that usually attract numerous strong players including even elite GMs. However, that time one of the highlights of the American chess portal resulted in a controversy: two players were disqualified straight after the event as Chess.com decided that they had used illegal assistance during the tournament. Moreover, their accounts have been closed by the Chess.com administration.

Had it not happened, one of them, an IM whose FIDE rating is 2366 would have been a co-winner with 8/9, getting a solid cash prize. This IM had also been noticed to be unusually strong in the Internet Chess Club championship at the end of May. The other player, an FM who scored 7/9, would have won a prize of approximately $100.

What is the proof, except their high scores? Daniel Rensch, Vice President of Chess.com, explains:

"The systems we use to detect these violations are based on deep heuristics and statistical evaluation. We have spent years developing our technology, and continue to invest heavily in our fairness systems. We employ one full-time on-staff statistician, and another full-time 'detective' of sorts. We have analyzed millions and millions of games and developed clear profiles to distinguish between human, super-human, and engine-level play. In these two cases, the evidence collected was overwhelming."

This sounds really logical. As a leading playing portal, Chess.com is expected to have developed something like this. At the same time, Rensch admits:

"There can never be 100% proof of cheating in online chess. [...] We are simply doing our best. Is there room for error? Yes, there is."

Is it possible that an error could have taken place on June 2nd? Yes, it is. At least in one of the cases. It's time to disclose the identity of the FM, all the more so, given that he has written to Chess-News, explaining the situation and asking for help. Viacheslav Tilicheev, born in 1994, got a FIDE rating over 2400 in 2012 and was considered a promising player. However, a year later, in 2013, he almost ceased his competitive activity, switching to teaching chess, giving online simuls, and blogging. The website where he was making living by doing this all was... Chess.com. So, if he decided to cheat indeed, he would put his reputation (which was already good and stable) and income at risk. Looks quite illogical, doesn't it?

Tilicheev's response can be read here. Among other things, he writes (we have corrected his English since it's far from perfect - Ed.):

"Unfortunately, Chess.com staff decided that in yesterday's Titled Tuesday tournament I've used chess programs. This accusation is unacceptable without 100% proofs, just based on talking of some confidential system. My reputation after this is completely damaged - and I have many students here, hosting simuls in which many players already played. How can I break it all down for only something like $100?"

Tilicheev, who comes from Russia (as well as the other banned player) but is now living in Bulgaria, also says he works as a security guard, along with his chess activities. He played the last Titled Tuesday from his workplace. Over there, he has only one computer which is used to watch the surveillance cameras, and it wasn't possible for him to install or use any special chess software since he doesn't have the administrator rights of access.

According to Tilicheev, he simply had an excellent tournament, which "can happen to any 2400 player once in a while", and many of the games went according to his opening preparation. What's the more, Tilicheev had played in Titled Tuesday many times and had been often close to prizes, but it was only this June that he managed to get it, only to be disqualified afterwards. He says: "Chess.com banned me because they found 'no blunders and only 4 minor mistakes' in my games from the Titled Tuesday. Please tell me why I'm obliged to blunder if several games were successful as a result of my opening preparation, several other games ended in extremely bad blunders by my opponents, and also there were some games shorter than 30 moves? Chess.com called this game the 'most blatant' example of his allegedly illegal play."

Chess-News finds this particular game very human-looking and very capable of being played by a 2400 player, especially given that he was a pawn down without sufficient compensation for half of it.

Shortly after the Chess.com decision, Viacheslav posted the video in which he analyzes all his games played in the June Titled Tuesday and explains his decisions one by one.

Despite all this, Chess.com decided to keep his account closed, albeit after some additional consideration. Now Tilicheev isn't allowed to re-open his account or get a new one unless he confesses to cheating. "Why should I admit something I haven't done at all?", he wonders. Tilicheev even agrees to have his account closed, only asking Chess.com for public apologies and admittance of their error.

These were the facts, and below is the opinion of Andrey Deviatkin, a Chess-News editor and a GM:

"Of course, one can't be 100% sure - nor Chess.com can be 100% sure about their accusations, as they admit. It's also clear that Chess.com, as a privately owned commercial entity, has every right to act at its sole discretion, and the players should understand it when they register and accept the Chess.com terms and conditions. It means that everyone is at risk to some extent. I think the alternative, an Orwellian total surveillance, is worse. After all, life is a risky business.
However, taking into account all the facts given above, as well as games played by Tilicheev in the Titled Tuesday, and my own chess experience, it seems very probable to me that he was playing honestly. As to his opening preparation, I played Tilicheev in 2011 in Chigorin Memorial, and, albeit I won a nice game, I can confirm that his opening preparation was already very good by the time. In my opinion, an error is very likely to have happened indeed - the one Chess.com admits room for."


  


Comments

I played Viacheslav some

I played Viacheslav some friendly blitz games in his hometown back in October last year and I think he is stronger than 2400 in blitz. He gave an impression to be an open and honest guy (I also happened to know his family) and I don't believe he would cheat online. I hope www.chess.com will correct their mistake.

I almost don't know

I almost don't know Viacheslav in person and don't know his family, but I got the same impression about his personality from the facts I had learned.

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