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Re these questions:

  1. would a board for calculating "non-blindfold" help GMs in slow games?

  2. Ethics of scratch boards in live games

There is a built-in feature of a 'scratch board' in correspondence but not in puzzles or live games. By scratch board, I mean you have a physical board or an analysis board where you move pieces around to see things, but of course the engine is off.

Also, I'm thinking mainly of untimed puzzles, but I guess the answer is the same even for timed like lichess puzzle storm, lichess puzzle racer, chesstempo's 'blitz' (and maybe 'mixed' - I haven't tried) or blitztactics.com's 'rated'.

Here's my pitch for scratch boards (in either live games or puzzles) :

I'll begin with some whataboutism:

  1. Like I said before, I believe time management extensions are much worse.

Scratch boards tell you only what you think. They just help you see more clearly. With scratch boards, everything is from your thinking only. You're just externalising your thinking. I don't think they're any different from calculators in poker (but not GTO solvers - that's outright using an engine) that tell you your hand strength.

The time management extension tells you what another player thinks (namely a machine for evaluation bar cheating and an automated process based on real time information for the time management extensions).

Actually, here are 2 things that distinguish scratch boards, and even like arrows if those ever get removed, from a time management extension:

  1. I think statistics (evaluation, move times, etc) are completely useless to determine if someone 'cheated' by using a scratch board or arrows. But I believe you can detect time management extension cheating like how you can detect evaluation bar cheating & even the regular telling-you-moves cheating.

  2. Scratch boards & arrows I believe won't help superGMs. Same as poker: I don't believe poker calculators (but not GTO solvers) would help poker pro's. But time management extensions would!

Now for puzzles specifically:

  1. At least in untimed puzzles, I don't really see how it's different from correspondence to create a lichess study and really think about the puzzle for days. You could say it won't necessarily help you in correspondence, but I think it's the timed puzzle rating (like on chesstempo) that actually provides a better expectation live rating. I defy anyone to provide statistics that show live rating doesn't correlate much more to timed rating than untimed rating. To make a counterstrike/valorant analogy, I view untimed puzzles like 'training' at your own pace where you're graded in an absolute sense and timed puzzles like 'deathmatch', where you're graded in a relative sense based on how well you do against other players.

  2. And as for timed puzzles, I don't think this'll make a difference. People who can solve certain puzzles without a scratch board would be ahead of you.

Question: Even granting arguendo scratch boards are cheating/unethical in live games, how are they cheating/unethical in (rated) puzzles, in particular while time management extensions are allowed/ethical?

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