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The copycat strategy is a rather silly one that guarantees a 50% score. Basically, you play White in one game and Black in the other game. You copy moves from one game to the other. So for example, if in the game with Black your opponent plays 1. e4, then you also play 1. e4 in your game with White. Then when the opponent replies (with say 1...Nf6) then you play 1...Nf6 in your game with Black. You effectively cease to be involved in the game, which becomes a game between your two opponents instead. You'll either win one game and lose the other, or draw both - for a 50% score.

This strategy is inapplicable in OTB games since you only ever play one game at a time, but it can conceivably work in correspondence chess. Is it legal?

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    When I played on LSS one of the site rules was that they would ban you if they reasonably concluded you were doing that.
    – koedem
    Dec 8, 2022 at 19:35
  • @koedem sounds like an answer =)
    – Allure
    Dec 8, 2022 at 20:31
  • Probably. But that would require me to find an actual source for that rather than just remembering from back in my playing days. :D
    – koedem
    Dec 10, 2022 at 21:46

1 Answer 1

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According to the USCF correspondence rules:

You may consult chess books and periodicals but not other players.

I would interpret this to mean that playing two opponents against each other would not be legal. You are getting the moves from another player, which is prohibited.

There's also a slight practical weakness in this strategy, especially if your opponents are aware you are doing it: it's possible that the delays between when the opponent makes a move and when you play it against the other opponent would make you use an extra day's worth of time. Eventually you may be forced to move before your other opponent does, or overstep your time and lose.

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    I'm not sure this would meet the definition of "consult[ing]" another player. Even if I'm sure it breaches the spirit of the rule. How is this any different to you having played a game last week, remembered some brilliant moves that an opposition player made in a given situation, that situation recurrs and so you play those moves yourself. Sure, it "smells" like it's different, but I personally can't square it so that it actually is logically different. Dec 6, 2022 at 19:13
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    @ScottishTapWater: In the “remembering from last week”, the information you had available was fixed before the current game. In the “copycat” strategy, you’re eliciting new information — answers to specific questions based on the current game that you’re copying. Each time you copy A’s move and play it against B, you’re effectively asking B the question “what would you play in response to this move?” Depending on what A plays, you’ll elicit different information from B. Dec 6, 2022 at 20:22
  • @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine - Okay, but what if you were playing two games simultaneously and earlier in one game a situation arose that recurred in the other game later on, would you argue then that you wouldn't be able to use the insight you'd gained from the earlier occurrence in the later game? I agree it's morally different as a result of the intent, but I'm not sure there is any logically consistent way to distinguish them as far as rules go, Short of ruling out this specific behaviour, which I don't think the current rule would actually do Dec 6, 2022 at 21:54
  • @ScottishTapWater There can be grey areas and there can be cases where it's hard to prove. But at the very least you can't intentionally go seeking for what another player would play in the exact position you have on your board right now. That's not a grey area; it's cheating.
    – D M
    Dec 8, 2022 at 4:08
  • @DM - I happen to agree with you, I just don't think that, according to the letter of the rule you quoted, this would be a breach. Dec 8, 2022 at 9:53

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