Judy on Internet and computer chess

12/23/2001 – The world's number 16 player was the attraction of the Online World Chess Event 2002. Unfortunately the event was cancalled after it had been dutifully announced in the world press. In an insightful discussion Judit Polgar talks about cheating in Internet tournaments. "It’s actually the mediocre grandmaster that has the biggest chance to get away with some cheating since it would not look that funny if he qualifies for the live event." more

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Excerpts from an interview with Judit Polgar

By Tom Bottema

Bottema: For how long have you been using the Internet?

Judit Polgar: For about five years, I guess. Basically I’m downloading all kinds of information and data. I think that takes care of 90% of the time I spent online. I use e-mails to communicate. For the rest, I mainly check cinema-sites whenever I want to see a movie. Actually, I don’t like to play chess on the Internet most of the time.

You don’t?

Not really, because when I log on, people usually don’t believe it’s me and they start asking stupid questions. And if they believe it’s me, it’s just different stupid questions. For me, it’s not a very private place to play chess. And since I don’t fancy taking an alias...

You think that cheating will be a major problem. Why not allow everything and create equal circumstances for everybody?

I think it’s against the spirit of the game. People just shouldn’t use computers or any other help in a game of chess, because then it turns into a different game. One of the most important characteristics of chess is creativity and with a computer you take away a lot of that.

Taking into consideration the development of pocket computers and the fact that one ‘brilliant’ move can decide the outcome of a game: what should organizers do against cheating in classical tournaments?

Actually, it’s just the new shape of an old problem. People used to cheat as well. What did you do if you played a complex line twenty years ago and you knew you might forget some critical moves? You could write them down on a crib and sneak into the bathroom at an appropriate moment. There have always been and there will always be ways to cheat. But as for the organizers’ concern, if they prove that someone cheated, that player should be disqualified.

When people could use computers, would that not give them the impression that they would really have a shot at the grand prize?

That might be the case of course. But I would feel most uncomfortable if I would end up in the Live Event not being able to perform the tricks I used in the Online Event. People will figure out that when you make a perfect score on the Internet and then lose to a mediocre grandmaster in 15 moves, you are a cheater. But make no mistake about it: it’s actually the mediocre grandmaster that has the biggest chance to get away with some cheating since it would not look that funny if he qualifies for the Live Event.

In October Online World Chess, the brainchild of chess organiser Bessel Kok, announced a mammoth Internet event. Starting mid January 2002 players from all over the world were to compete on the Internet for one of 32 qualification spots. They were to proceed to meet with 32 of the world's leading GMs in April and May of 2002. The prize fund was $1.4 million, the entry fee $32.50. Unfortunately the event had to be cancelled after the world press had got all excited about it.
The full interview by Tom Bottema can be found here...

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