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This is an extension of a question I asked previously here.

Somebody who can prove cheating beyond reasonable doubt might easily decide to tell the public about it all.

The main question is, what if you have evidence that is quite strong but doesn't amount to proof?

As in the previous question, I shall take a page from Ben Finegold, who proposes that all evidence (no matter how flimsy) should be discussed in public. He says that it is possible to regard an accusation of cheating as a compliment, in the sense that you may have played brilliantly and your opponent just got upset. Therefore, a mere accusation of cheating should not immediately lead to a defamation suit or suchlike.

To take Ben's proposal to its logical conclusion, if Magnus Carlsen had evidence which on the balance of probabilities indicated cheating, Ben would conclude that he should just give it to the public. He should say, "I don't have watertight proof, but I have evidence. Here is the evidence."

What would the consequences of this proposal be? Moreover, in today's cultural and legal environment, would the world's top grandmasters feel comfortable doing so?

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  • Couple of drive-by down votes, couple of votes to close. All unexplained. To me, this is a reasonable question which prompted an intelligent response from Brian Towers. Thanks to both
    – Laska
    Sep 25, 2022 at 0:36
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    I see that the votes to close say that this is an opinion-based question. The way I look at this is, I think it would be reasonable to ask on Law Stackexchange "why is this standard of evidence preferable to that one in civil law?" and I am asking a similar question Sep 25, 2022 at 0:51
  • Yes your question is very reasonable. And even if the best answer turns out to be that it’s a matter of opinion, that doesn’t mean it’s obvious to the questioner or to other readers that it’s a matter of opinion! Or maybe it’s a matter of opinion whether it’s a matter of opinion. But it’s tough to be challenged by complexity, and the close button is so comforting…
    – Laska
    Sep 26, 2022 at 11:36
  • My understanding is that it is simply a legal question. If Person A says Person B cheated, he has to be able to prove it (which is nearly impossible) or Person B can sue for defamation (his career would obviously suffer). Notice Carlsen’s statement is largely about how he feels about it, nothing about what he says his opponent definitely had done.
    – rougon
    Sep 27, 2022 at 3:33

1 Answer 1

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The main question is, what if you have evidence that is quite strong but doesn't amount to proof?

If you have any evidence whatsoever then the first thing you should do is tell the arbiter. The arbiter's job is then to judge that evidence and then see if there is any more evidence to support that claim. That includes not just what has happened in the past but also what happens in the future.

As an arbiter who has been in that position I can tell you that the most stupid thing you can do is broadcast to the world. That guarantees that the people tasked to find more supporting evidence will fail.

Obviously when such an accusation is made to the arbiter there are two possible outcomes:

  1. Cheating is proven and the player faces sanctions usually including a ban
  2. No cheating is proven. In this case the accused is innocent and should have no stigma attached to them.

Let's look briefly at the Niemann- Carlsen case.

  1. Strong players have analysed the game and concluded that Carlsen played badly. It looks very much like an older insecure player trying to deflect from their blunders by a false accusation of cheating against an improving younger player.
  2. IM Ken Regan has run Niemann's games through his cheat detection program and come to the same conclusion that Carlsen played badly and Niemann played well but nothing exceptional.

Regan is used regularly by them in serious cases. He has analysed Niemann's games and published the results. He has appeared in a number of interesting YouTube videos discussing these. Here is an example.

Ben Finegold, who proposes that all evidence (no matter how flimsy) should be discussed in public. He says that it is possible to regard an accusation of cheating as a compliment

GM Ben Finegold is more of an entertainer than serious chess player these days. His current FIDE rating is 2400. He makes money by producing hundreds of YouTube videos and getting revenue on the number of clicks. Saying dumb but controversial things is a good way of driving that.

Carlsen, at a much higher level, is currently making a similar transition, this time from professional chess player to businessman. He has strong business links with Chess24.com and increasing revenue for them by saying outrageous things is good for him on a business level.

What would the consequences of this proposal be?

Putting legal considerations to one side, the first and most important consequence would be that a possible cheater would be alerted and no more evidence would be gained. The only evidence would be historic which would likely already have been analysed. The second consequence would be to bring the game of chess itself into disrepute as a safe haven for scuttlebutt, innuendo and libel.

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    Bear in mind that even Fabiano Caruana says that you shouldn't have complete faith in Regan's analysis, especially when proving a negative. Not that this invalidates any of your points of course. Sep 24, 2022 at 19:25

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