Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Michael de la Maza - the Verdict?

In my earlier article, Michael de la Maza Statistics, I showed that MDLM’s rating performance increased at a steady rate from 1362 to 2149 over three years, with no sign of slowing at the end.  [See my later article Rating by Maximum Likelihood for more accurate rating calculation, which gives the performance the last 19 games as 2189.]  (N.B. His USCF rating graph understates his final performance because the USCF uses both past and current results to calculate ratings.)  In my subsequent article, Samuel Sevian Statistics, I compared MDLM’s results with those of the youngest player ever to become a US National Master (USCF 2200).  Sevian’s progress was about 10% faster, but (unlike MDLM) he slowed as he neared 2200.  Even Hikaru Nakamura (a previous holder of this record) slowed as he neared 2200, and he is currently rated above the World Champion.  MDLM’s results look too good to be true to me, particularly as others have not been able to replicate them using his methods:

http://www.chesscafe.com/text/skittles148.pdf
http://www.chesscafe.com/text/skittles150.pdf

(See my earlier article, 7 Circles, for a critique of these methods.)  AoxomoxoA did some excellent research, and posted his findings as comments to my earlier article.  He found that MDLM had a PhD in computer science from MIT, see:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeldelamaza

Here is MDLM’s PhD thesis:

dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/43401/37658948.pdf?...1

It is clear from this document that MDLM had experience of computer chess programming.   This looks suspicions, in view of MDLM’s very tactical playing style.  Is there any evidence that he might have used a computer to make his moves?  AoxomoxoA found this picture of him playing at the 2001 World Open:





















(N.B. You can click on this diagram to enlarge it.)  MDLM is wearing a big jacket in this picture, whereas all the other players are in shirt sleeves.  AoxomoxoA found that this was his custom when playing chess:

I recalled that the first time we played was a Tuesday evening at the Metrowest Chess Club, and that he had come to play dressed in a hooded black cloak.  It was mysterious. The hood stayed up during our game, and to add to the mystique, his left arm never moved from under its cover.

It seemed as though I was playing the Headless Horseman, using his hidden arm to hold on to his horse under the table.  As I recalled this, de la Maza leaned back in his chair, and laughed out loud like a little boy.  It took him a few moments to settle down. When he did, he explained.

“Basically, I busted my arm at one point. At chess tournaments people are constantly bumping into you, walking behind you or what not, so I decided to put on a protective vest…but it was a bit extreme, I must say.”

See: http://mandelamaza.blogspot.de/2004/12/its-small-world-but-i-wouldnt-want-to.html

Note also that MDLM won $10,000 from just one tournament.  AoxomoxoA found that blackjack card counting was invented by a professor at MIT, who appears to have been the first to use a concealed computer to card count at a casino:

In addition, Thorp, while a professor of mathematics at MIT, met Claude Shannon, and took him and his wife Betty Shannon as partners on weekend forays to Las Vegas to play roulette and blackjack, at which Thorp was very successful.  His team's roulette play was the first instance of using a wearable computer in a casino — something which is now illegal.  The wearable computer was co-developed with Claude Shannon between 1960-61. The final operating version of the device was tested in Shannon’s home lab at his basement in June 1961.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_O._Thorp

This is amazing with 1961 technology!  AoxomoxoA also found another article which shows a concealed computer that was used for card counting:

http://www.atariarchives.org/deli/casinos.php

He found that the MIT blackjack team had as many as 80 players at its peak, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_Blackjack_Team

MDLM may not have been aware of any of this, but the technology used is certainly relevant, and perhaps it also says something about the culture at MIT.  There is a long history of people being caught using computers to cheat in chess tournaments:

One of the earliest known cases of using technology to cheat was in 1993 at the World Open.  An unrated newcomer wearing headphones used the name “John von Neumann” (matching the name of a famous computer science pioneer), and scored 4½/9 in the Open Section, including a draw with a grandmaster and a win over a 2350-rated player. This player seemed to have a suspicious bulge in one of his pockets, which appeared to make a soft humming or buzzing sound at important points in the game.  When he was quizzed by the tournament director, he was unable to demonstrate even a rudimentary knowledge of some simple chess concepts, and he was disqualified.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheating_in_chess

Nonetheless, this was clearly an unsophisticated attempt, and the name the contestant chose suggests that he was not seriously trying to deceive.  There can be no doubt that a serious attempt at deception on the level of that used in casinos would have been successful.  Indeed, simpler technology would have sufficed.

MDLM’s performance progressed from 1362 to 2149 very nearly as fast as the fastest junior, without slowing towards the end.  This put him on course to be the first World Champion who learned the game as an adult.  According to his account, he achieved this result by doing beginner level board vision exercises (the "Micro Drills"), playing chess, and solving a thousand problems seven times.  Another possible explanation for his results is that he used a concealed computer, which would also explain his very tactical style.  I leave you to come to your own verdict!

55 comments:

  1. We need game scores to make an informed opinion on this allegation : the fact that he was wearing a jacket isn't enough to reach any scientific conclusions.

    Maybe it would be possible for someone in the US to get in touch with his opponents at the World Open.

    Looking at the games is a good way to identify engine use.

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  2. Engine use might be difficult to detect if the player concerned was carefully managing his performance. He could play his own moves, except when the computer tells him that his move immediately loses material or that he can immediately win material, and if he does not need to win, he can ignore the computer. He could also limit the search depth. An abuser test might be positive for some critical games in the final tournament, and negative for the other games. Would this be proof in a court of law?

    AxomoxoA also found this:

    http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=18&nav=messages&webtag=ab-chess&tid=1909

    I could not find the Stephan Ham article on Chess Café, and I do not know the chronology, so I did not mention this in the article. Clearly this issue has been raised before.

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  3. Scientific conclusions are only possible if De La Maza would play games under a controlled situation. But "suprise": he dont play anymore. There where just many strange things going on, very strange if you look at a jacket he had on at his chessgames when everyone else was very hot...
    I cant prove he did anything wrong, but i am shure anyone believing he was "ok" has to be extrem naive.
    Maybe he was a chessgenius like no one before, who did stop playing with no "real" reason after all of that wonderful progress ( why did he start playing if he dont like the game? ), who did wear jackets in the hot summer at chessgames, who had much free time as a PhD in computerscience 1999-2001, who did improve by solving 1000 problems 7 times ( others did solve several hundredthousand problems by now and the result was limited ), maybe...
    But "I" am willing to believe a person, who tell me that he was raped by aliens from outerspace, before i trust in this De La Maza story.

    What suprises me most is that nowbody did put any attention to this picture of his book. I did look at this picture and i did know what to look for in the internet. And the writings of MDLM under the Picture. Talking of himselfs as a third person "focuses on the board and only on the board".

    I made a joke in the time when i was a student. In my town the was a shop for fishing. There you could buy living fly-maggots as food for the fishes in aquariums. I did buy some hundreds and did put them in a whole at my faforite pup at the end of december. 2 days later the whole pup was full of fly's everyone was waving with their hands to keep them away from their beer. no one was wondering where these flys did come from.. evrywhere outside snow and frost. I had my silent fun. Maybe i should have done a picture with a funny subtitle: Aox bravely protecting his beer against hundreds of agressors.

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  4. Nowadays, I have to play two players who are 400 points below my rating for each player that I play at my rating. Back in De La Maza's time players were grouped by section, so he could most often be just middle-of-the-pack, and get lots of exposure to higher-rated, and get easy rating points jumps. No one is considering this.

    Unfortunately, I have seen his games/wins from the tournament from his book. While he played better than his opponents, his opponent's play seemed more reminiscent of some gift wins. Pairings, luck of the draw, nerves, preparation plays big into a rating. Some get paired routinely against higher rateds of whom "they have their number" and consistently "upset" those other individuals in rated games.

    I seem MDLMs rating as being very performanced based. I doubt he is that much of a stronger player than I am, but in addition to his superhuman training regimen, I think he probably analyzed more diligently at the board than I do. He wasn't winning on experience so much as winning on hyper-focus. I could take gingko-biloba for example, and that would improve (has) improve my focus and results. But for the last few years, for example, I rarely ever do that, and don't as a rule.

    Players who win on experience win even-ish looking endgames frequently, not tactical duels.

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    1. Hi,

      I'm the newest, yet most hidden, Knight Errant. I just joined, so it's interesting that right after I join an MDLM-based chess group, this topic comes up. I actually have a great deal of familiarity with the ideas of using hidden computers for gambling or games. You guys have already figured out the important details.

      No one should be skeptical that this is possible. With motivation and lack of ethics, I could build a concealable chess computer in just a few months. I could do it in a month with a gun to my head. I say this not as a boast, but quite the opposite - I'm not an MIT Ph.D. computer science whiz. I'm just an experienced IT guy.

      Without metal detectors and the like, no one could detect it. With metal detectors, it still might be achievable, but that's where I'd have to put in research and sweat. Honestly, no club player "looks like a computer player" by casual inspection in some random tournament. Computers mostly make strong moves, indistinguishable from a human's strong moves. But if pressed, you can cycle through 4-10 strong chess engines each move, and/or occasionally use the second best moves. You could use a relatively weak engine. Better yet, you use the engine as an opening book, and then primarily as a blunder checker for you and your opponent. You will never fall to a tactic, or make any poor move that exceeds a certain threshold. You could even have the threshold get tighter, the farther behind you fall using your own moves.

      So, chording keyboards, computers hidden in shoes, etc., these are the meat. If I did it, I doubt I'd have the chess computer on my person. I'd have a transmitter/receiver on my person. In essence, it would be like building a rudimentary keyboard, hiding it on your person [Belt buckle? Jewelry?], bluetooth/wirelessly inputting to a networked FICS client, and playing your powerful home computer in a FICS match. It just seems easier and more concealable that way. Throw in a signalling partner-in-crime when necessary, and you're nearly uncatchable. Really, they might need to have a "leave your cell phone at the door" policy for all meaningful tournaments.

      I think it's reasonable to assume that someone is using a computer in the larger amateur tournaments. If professional gamblers have been using computers successfully against hyper-vigilant, wealthy casinos for 40 years, why would chess tournaments pose any challenge at all?

      I don't like to indict somebody based on possibilities, but not evidence. But the flak jacket being used to protect against clumsy patzers? That's ridiculous and somewhat damning. It's discouraging, because I just initiated my tactical training a few weeks ago (It's going great! Thanks for asking! Still suck). So be it, I guess. I don't know MDLM from Adam. To be fair, an ambitious, goal-oriented, unemployed MIT Ph.D math/computer whiz is more or less the perfect candidate for rapid chess improvement.

      If there are any Knights Errant who have read this far, I would appreciate it if you could toss me onto your "Knights in Battle" lists. I know it's a quieter group these days, but I could use the support, and I want to show my support.

      Delete
    2. Rated sections are alive and well in England. I popped into a tournament a while back, to have a look at the book stall, on my way to the gym. There were about six sections. They looked 1400 at most in the bottom section, and up to about 2200 in the top one. Open tournaments invariably use the Swiss system. In the first round, tiled players are paired against beginners and average players get roughly equal parings. After that, you float to your own level. Do well in one round - get hammered in the next! If you play for a weak team in the first division of your local league, you can be assured of a hammering every week! I have always been efficient at beating weaker players, but find getting my fair share of the points against stronger players much harder.

      MDLM’s training regimen was far from super human for a 2150 player without a day job. However, we do not really know what training he did. He could have made up his training story. Anyway, his training story does not make much sense to me. I do not believe that the easiest way for a human player to get to 2150 is to be GM strength in tactics and weak club player strength at the rest of the game. I also dot believe that the training programme he described would achieve that result.

      Analysing more diligently would be good if you could manage it - but trying harder does not do much good - because these thought processes are largely automatic. You will always make the same mistakes, unless you succeed in changing these thought processes.

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    3. The Knights errant site still exists, but the Knight’s Errant have been declared officially dead, by the bluest and most devilish of all the knights: Blue Devil Knight himself. The problem is that people lost interest when they found that MDLM’s methods did not do what he claimed. Many players below 1800 did improve significantly, but nobody got much beyond this level. Temposchlucker did nudge over 1800, by doing a huge amount of tactics training, but has fallen back since.

      I am retired from IT and also a physics graduate. I expect that I could put together a box smaller than a mobile phone, and probably as small as a match box, with a few keys, touch sensitive output, and a strong and versatile engine on board. I could hide it beforehand in the tournament venue (when it is being used for another purpose). If seriously challenged, I could blue tack it to the bottom of a table, or slip it to an accomplice.

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    4. Ah, I didn't know it had been *officially* disbanded. BP was kind enough to declare me a member, so I suppose I'll just consider myself a new member of a dead group :). It's a shame to disband, however. Tactics training is critical regardless of MDLM.

      I agree with James Stripes, in that I've always assumed he downplayed his skill, both initially and his supposed refusal to broaden his study program. It's nearly impossible to work that hard, yet insist to yourself that you won't learn any openings or endgames. It's harder not to.

      Maybe we should all build concealable computers, throw them in a box, and send them to the FIDE. :)

      Thank you for your work on these statistical questions. They're interesting.

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    5. BP’s Knights Errant Revival list still exists, but BP does not remove Knights who fail to post, once a month - or even at all! It is effectively a list of reciprocal links. BDK did say he would put a note on the original site saying that it was moribund. Emails to the Secretary Knight appear to go into a black hole.

      Tactics training is critical, but not everything. The best approach appears to be to solve the problem completely from the diagram (preferably write down your solution), and check that you have identified all the defences and found the best answer to each of them. If you got it wrong, take the trouble to fully understand the solution, why you got it wrong, and how you could have got it right. Preferably write all this down. You can mindlessly solve hundreds of thousands of problems on a computer, a move at a time, with the pieces moving round and see little or no benefit!

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  5. My opinion for many years is now strengthened: MDM exaggerated the weakness of his play at the outset. His quick rating has been the evidence. His dissertation offers corroboration.

    Even so, the circumstantial evidence for cheating is compelling. His results, including opponent's names, is online. The game scores exist, although it will take time and expense to gather them. If he used a computer, his publisher could mount a case for fraud.

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    1. I am not a lawyer and do not live in the US, but a civil clam in English Law can only be for a loss that you have suffered. I expect that his publisher has every reason to be pleased with sales of the book. I do not believe that the readers of book can sue the publisher if it contains inaccurate information.

      In principle, the tournament organisers could sue for return of the prize money, and perhaps the runner up could take legal action, but the time limit for legal action may have expired. The standard of proof required here would be balance of probabilities, but getting all the witnesses and evidence together would be difficult at this time.

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    2. Even if we would have all of the games of MDLM it might be hard to prove that he was using a computer. His "Thesis" ( you may find the link in the post ) to get his PhD for Computerscience and Electotecnic at the MIT was about a method to improve AI-Programs, especially chessprograms. If he was using his own program then it would be impossible to prove that it was this program playing.

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    3. True enough. There have been many other fraudulent claims put over upon publishers that never led to lawsuits, and that continue to profit the publisher and authors. Carlos Castenada's religious tracts immediately come to mind.

      The link to his dissertation (in normal academic usage, one writes a thesis for a master's and a dissertation for a doctorate--there is some inconsistency) appears to be dead. Google Scholar is not helping because there is another M de la Maza who is quite prolific in health research.

      The title of his dissertation would facilitate a search.

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    4. I was not aware that the US and UK usage of "thesis" and "dissertation" are different:

      http://www.dissertation-help.co.uk/thesis_dissertation.htm

      I gave a link to the dissertation in the article.

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    5. Search at google: Michael de la maza thesis chess together structures

      Then you see:

      Together Structures
      dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/43401/37658948.pdf?...1
      File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
      by PH Winston - 1997 - Related articles
      Michael de la Maza ... In this thesis, I develop the together structure idea and demonstrate the value of ..... 4.6 Together structures improve chess playing ability .

      I think the ?...1 is missing at the link of EP.

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    6. Thanks for that Aox, I will fix the problem.

      Delete
  6. I have had to delete a comment that provided a link to a 2005 article that suggests by innuendo that MDLM used a concealed computer. This is probably libellous in England, but may be legal elsewhere. We can make accusations, but we must always make it clear that they are unproven, i.e. that they are allegations.

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    1. Very well. Since a mild joke doesn't seem to transfer my message I will adhere to my usual boorish way:
      I don't think there is a need to find a special explanation for the improvement of DLM.
      I don't think he cheated.
      I don't think it is relevant at all if he did.
      I consider being naive to be a virtue.

      I will be very proud when the day comes that I'm so good at chess that people think I'm cheating.

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    2. I only want to make sure that I do not end up in court having to prove that MDLM cheated beyond all reasonable doubt. A lot of the evidence here would not be admissible in court. What is at issue here is not really whether or not he cheated. We all have to make our own training decisions on very imperfect evidence. There are no randomised controlled trails conducted under laboratory conditions. His results look to good to be true. He could have cheated. His methods have not worked for others. That should be enough for our personal training decisions.

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  7. I don't believe MDLM cheated - anyone could do that. I do find it highly amusing, though, that MDLM would be worried about his reputation being sullied in GBR, and fighting a case over there.

    I wish we had chess reputations to protect, that just sounds cool. In reality, just about everyone but the few hard core souls know to drop chess for a real job. At least MDLM tried to make money in chess, and he deserves some major cool-points for doing so.

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    1. The allegation here is not just that MDLM cheated at chess, but that he committed a criminal offence (fraud) in doing so.

      We have a serious libel tourism problem in England and Wales:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel_tourism

      The government is planning legislation to address the problem, but that has not happened yet:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9255483/Queens-Speech-new-laws-to-banish-libel-tourists.html

      Currently, Google is publisher of this bog, but there is talk of legislation to change that too. Aside from any possible legal liability, I have a moral responsibility to be fair here.

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  8. I find the whole discussion of cheating in chess to be counter-productive. I heard that one of the local chess players that I know, a chess Master, one night made 300,000 playing poker. Someone else told me this last week.

    In any case, MDLM tried his hand at a few of these big-money tournaments (check his tournament history on USCF ratings), before he finally won at his final World Open. It's very relevant to talk about money not just ratings because it appears, at least to me, that his goal was to see if he could come up with methods to improve his chess in order to win a big-money tournament, particularly in hindsight. He has that 2000 floor now and has since stopped playing. He last played in 2001.

    In any case, what I personally associate his training methods with is "How to have the tournament result of your life.", rather than "How to boost one's long-term rating overnight."

    I guess nowadays it would be asinine to try to to make money at chess as opposed to making money playing poker. I find this to be a very sad situation.

    I know many relatively new chessplayers, kids, who have jumped up toward that 2,000 rating. I feel rather confidently that I am at least stronger than them at 40/2, G/1 time controls, or would be at 30/90, G/30 time-controls, but they perform better in the given circumstances, they don't throw away games on the clock like I do (or I would be mid 1900's in rating myself by now). (some) Kids are often better able to adapt to circumstances beyond their control, which is a non-chess quality.

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  9. Getting back to the discussion at hand, I believe that MDLM proved that one can make it to Expert based primarily on tactical skill. To get to Master level though, I believe that one has to enter into the discussion of "positional compensation" either knee-deep, or neck-deep because those are the positional advantages from where the more elementary tactics that MDLM expounded upon arise in - these tactics often arise after a sacrifice.

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    1. I simply do not believe this. Getting to the expert level (2000-2100 if I understood correctly) requires more than just study tactics and solve tactical puzzles... unless you are an engine or use it when playing.

      Please take notice there are other aspects (elements) of the game like: positional play, strategy, endgames, etc. Beside that you have to achieve positions where you can use you tactical weapon (skills). It is very hard to me to imagine how you are going to exploit tactical strenght when I will play solid positions with slow improvement of such.

      I played many games against various opponents (up to 2200-2300 FICS standard rated) and when there were player who just knew the tactics very well I steered the game into slow, positional play. Most often they lost the games. I played some games against engines and it is very clear to me that they are using the tactical strenght with their openings and always (or very often) strive for open positions to show why they are called "tactical monsters". You cannot make a sound tactical shots when you do not achieve active, open and proper (better) position. And it requires playing good openings, solid middlegame and after the defensive side plays stubborn chess... endings as well (even 2-3 pawns a light piece ahead).

      I do not mean tactics is not necessary nor plays important role. However playing "pure tactics" finishes most often at human 1500-1700 level. I was trying to check out how far anyone (human) can get just with the use of tactics. It seems that the level of 1700-1800 barrier is not be broken without the knowledge of planning, strategy and endgames.

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  10. MDLM’s final performance was not just at Expert level it was very nearly Master level, and his rate of progress was not slowing. I have no doubt that a computer can play at Master level with very little positional or endgame skill, but it has not been proved to my satisfaction that a human can. Fischer did not believe that it was possible.

    It has been proved to my satisfaction that MDLM’s training methods do not work for most people. Perhaps they worked for him because he was a chess genius on a scale that the world has not seen before or since. However, Laslo Polgar says that there is no such thing as chess talent and has gone a long way towards proving his point.

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  11. As shown at USCF's database http://www.uschess.org/msa/MbrDtlTnmtHst.php?12775875 Michael's peak rating was 2041, not "near master" (where did the 2149 come from?). I am not neutral on the subject but that same graph/table shows normal but very good human progress. If he started using an engine at 1400, he would have jumped MUCH faster (unless he was also losing games on purpose). I wrote a longer reply but it was accidentaly deleted (my fault!) but I doubt Michael was cheating (see The Curious Case of MrBoeJangles at http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman122.pdf and My Top Tips for Chess Imrprovement at http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman133.pdf, which does parallel Michael's book's excellent suggestions).

    Personally my first tournament was July 1966 and my frist rating was 1385; I reached 1900 in July 1968 and 2000 in Sep 1969. By then I was in college and no longer playing regularly. I wasn't cheating - computers filled up entire rooms then and I had no access at our chess tournaments :) Michael is an intelligent guy who was doing some wrong things (as he wrote in his book) and when he started doing some correct things he played and studied rigorously and started to really show some of his potential.

    Best wishes,
    NM Dan Heisman

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  12. There is a difference between rating and performance. MDLM's performance was much higher than 2041 or his rating would have keept lower. Bright Knight did calculate his performance.

    If MDLM would have wanted to win rating-prices it would have been wise to keep below a cetain level at each tournament and without any ratingprices > 2000 there is no need to play anymore.

    MDLM did invent a chessprogram named TPlayer (as you can read in his thesis). Tplayer was a learning program. If he would have used an improved version of his own program than the program would have improved game by game as Tplayer did.

    You are right, every single fact is not enough to prove anything. The combination of facts makes it hard for me to believe everything was ok with his story.

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    1. Yes, you are correct; rating performance - sorry I read too fast. But the rest I stand by - I don't think Michael cheated.

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  13. Thank you very much for your comment Dan. The number 2149 comes from my previous article:

    http://empiricalrabbit.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/michael-de-la-maza-statistics.html

    I calculated this number using the Elo formula from MDLM’s last 19 games. His final USCF rating incorporates the results of earlier games where his performance was less good.

    I am not only worried by MDLM’s final 2149 performance, but also by his almost perfectly linear rate of improvement. The rate of progress of Servian and other record breaking juniors slowed as they neared 2200.

    If MDLM did use an engine, he would have been very foolish to use it at full strength from the start. “John Von Neumann” (see the article) was caught in the first tournament in which he did this. A more sensible approach would be to engineer a gradual improvement.

    Blackburne said that he learned the game at 18, three years before sharing first place with Anderssen in a tournament, so perhaps there is a precedent for an adult reaching master strength in three years. However, Blackburne did not only study tactics, and knowledge of other aspects of the game was rudimentary by modern standards.

    Perhaps Fisher was wrong, and it is possible for an exceptionally talented unaided human adult learner to go from 1400 to 2200 by just studying tactics. Nonetheless, I have difficulty in believing that solving a thousand problems six times would do the trick. That is not other people’s experience, but perhaps they are not exceptionally talented.

    I have no problem in believing that someone somewhere has successfully cheated using a computer. Indeed, I would be surprised if it has not happened.

    Best Wishes.

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    1. If an exceptionally talented unaided human adult learner to go from 1400 to 2200 by just studying tactics... it means he/she has to know much more than pure tactics. You can go probably up to 1700-1800 without learning anything except tactics (unless you are a computer program or engine).

      In my opinion MDLM's "solving a thousand problems six times would do the trick".... but only on him. Even if he has had not cheated when winning the World Open... he cheated people by giving false promise: to be able to make rapid chess improvement... with just ONE simple (but very demanding one) excercise! If it would be the hint or suggestion to the author of computer chess program (nowadays called engine) in the late 70's or 80's - it could be a good (even if too trivial) idea.

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  14. I find MDLM's winning the World Open (suspicious-sounding protective vests aside) to be not so difficult to explain. In fact, there is a very simple explanation for this, his super-human endurance level.

    If you look at his circles, well I mean he is cramming down thousands of tactics in no-time flat. Who else could do this? very, very, very, very, very few people who play tournament chess even could do this, IMHO. They could, perhaps, but they wouldn't want to try, it's like climbing Mt. Everest, or as the saying goes "Mah head asplode!"

    A lot of talented kids simply fold in tournaments because as amazingly bright and energetic as they may appear, they regularly do not have that perspicacity for that many rounds of chess back-to-back.

    So yeah, after the first four rounds were completed, most opponents were probably mentally "done" already.

    Also, keep in mind that MDLM, if you go over his games, was a very good calculator. Being a good calculator, some of that ability and discipline is natural. So, if you give a good calculator some direction (even if it's just tactics), their level and style of play may simulate a computer engine's moves.

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    1. If you look at his circles, well I mean he is cramming down thousands of tactics in no-time flat. Who else could do this?

      Temposchlucker has done it. I could do it. Anybody can do it. It is a simple memory task, but it does not measurably improve your chess. Temposchlucker did not improve at all when he did it. Repetitions with a short time interval between them contribute very little to long term memory.

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    2. Many did try this type of training, without that sucess. I could name several more than empirical rabbit. But none of them had any coat on, in the middle of a hot summer, and none of them stoped playing chess after getting the last possible ratingprice..

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    3. Did temposchlucker win any tournaments? Nobody who did the method did. Except de la Maza. Did de la Maza work harder, was he smarter than everyone else?

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  15. If someone, and I'd say even if it's only a single person just about, did follow his system and did not make Expert, then I'd figure that this system doesn't work.

    Also, Bright Knight brings up memorization. If he were just memorizing any of those problems, IMHO, then I would find that "Circle of memorization" to be unacceptable other than as a way to try something different. I have seen the same tactics problems whether in books or on ChessTempo many a time, and I usually get those ones wrong because I am no longer trying to solve the problem but instead guess-remember the answer, and memory usually seems to miss out on some key detail.

    I don't remember MDLM mentioning memorizing anywhere in his book. I got the impression that during that last circle cram-session, he was implicitly suggesting that these problems were still getting solved, yet at lightning speed. I suppose one would have to have memorized the solution, though, in order to make that circle within the time-frame given.

    I have a chess friend who will remmber an opening line or tactic, and will blitz out the 20 moves from memory in well under 2 minutes. Perhaps I should give the memorization stuff a try, but I don't think this sort of thing builds a thought process for solving unique problems at the board. More likely it makes the sort of player where if all they have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail (I've seen this sort of thing first-hand, and I don't envy the coach that tries to rebuild such a player because rebuilding will probably not raise rating for a long-time. At very best that student will now "win differently" on occasion).

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  16. That would be funny if MDLM made another grand by auctioning off that coat and vest on Ebay.

    But seriously, the eyes don't lie. Just look at his expression in that picture. If I had that sort of mental intensity during my games, I'd probably win a World Open, too! :-D I think he could have only gotten that intense look from looking at thousands of problems, going "past the point of pain" during his training, as it were.

    Not to say that you guys haven't, but then again maybe you guys should do said training right before a "big-money" tournament and see what happens. Of course, you would also need safe opening variations with which you are familiar, and he had played enough rated games to have had these, particularly considering his level of discipline toward winning.

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  17. I follow his advice and went up 200 points in 5 years to 1845.

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  18. Congratulations Hector! Nonetheless, 200 points is not 800 points, 5 years is not less than 5 months (to complete the 7 Circles as described by MDLM), and 1845 is not 2149 with no signs of slowing at the end. The evidence suggests that MDLM’s claim that doing the 7 Circles as he described results in a big gain in rating points is untrue. Some players who did not follow his prescription precisely did improve, but none of them improved to much over 1800. Lots of us gain or lose more than 200 points in 5 years.

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  19. The jacket in summer..to cover a loop induction neck AM emitter,...the right rigid position-direction of her head"deep thinking" ...a way to avoid any distortion in sintonize with the neeck loop and the hearing receiver in his ear,like a radio tunning,(similar happened with GM Korneev vs a pensioner spaniard case,did u remember)..the vest....the hands covered...a suggestion that he do not used his shoes but his hands,in the spaniard case,he was using a keyboard in his legs,and unfortunatly for him,he couldnt sintonise well,so he "was forced to turn his head to the left side" during one of his games for two hrs!,and was very noted,no post morten analisis after games,now im tracking Hou Yifan the chinese start..is very suspicious..17 years,defeated 6 top 2700 GGMM,earned 250.000 in world champ +gibraltar and reijavick,and later she loose games vs ladies,perform poor in some other tournaments after and before,so dramatic set back in her level,imposible...a IM math from buffalo university was checking her results and match UCI better than no one else in history..in her match vs Honeru ...interesting more:her results in china are somehow poor,like a 2450 typical girl suggest ,they can not use their devices in china because of estricted regulations in a comunist country like china,ofcourse someone is handling the process because she is just 17,after the reijavik she was triyng to hid her results and "playng bad" to not atrack to much attention,finnaly she llose a game with a turkish girl of 2290 elo ...a girl that almost defeated Caruana ,Polgar,shirov,short,mamedyarov,sokolov and many others....

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  20. Sinotize / sinotise is not an English word. I do not understand what you are trying to say. Links to any cases of alleged cheating with a computer would be interesting.

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  21. Sorry for my english,im ukrainian,i mean tunning instead ,the neck loop inductors are having that problemif u correctly coordinate(tunning) ur head(were the small wireless earpiece is hidden) then u avoid the noise and u hear clear...but just a bit to the right or to the left or the signal is weak or the batteries are drained off,then u must compensate it but better tunning,amd it was happened with the spaniard

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  22. Oh, I see. Potentially, you might be overheard with voice output. Touch output gets round that problem, but a lot of practice is needed to use it.

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  23. Why voice output? He was receiving audio,but transmiting signals,
    Why a lot of practice? A simple code between the two people to understain each other in morse
    In poland recently a guy 2300 was catched,rybka3 in 95% off all moves!!

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  24. Receiving audio is what I meant. Most conveniently, the output of synthesised voice from the computer. Morse code is not too hard, but to avoid being caught, you do not want to use the computer to make all your moves. You want to be given alternative moves, and have your moves checked. That requires a lot of dialogue. I suggested a four bit code, which would be much faster and easier than Morse. Nonetheless, a synthesised voice would be easier. However, an ear piece is a dead give away, even if nobody can hear the computer's commentary. We only know about the cheats who were caught. The more interesting cheats are those who were not detected!

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  25. Just using one middle level uci,no the houdini or rybkas ofcourse,how could u track down its moves ? And to be updated constantly with all the posible candidates moves to play instantly from time to time to give a good impression :)
    If somthing is going wrong... A simple code to tell:"emergency,hey come to the board to be visually updated! I missed smthing recently"
    Morse,bits encoded,its more complicated than to play chess itself! Why not a mini camera with a mini micro pin hole that allow snopshots periodically and send it periodically...without any intervention ..in the wrist watch,in the buuttons,in his clothes deeply covered,no constantly video,because its stupid,drain fast the battery and to much traffic data

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  26. If you use electronic communications, these can potentially be detected or jammed. If you just send quick bursts of data, finding your location would be difficult though. If you hide electronics in your clothes these can potentially be found by searching you. A small box that can be discarded looks best to me. All this is rather academic though:

    http://www.chess.com/forum/view/general/chess-cheating-hits-new-high

    People are often caught using communications devices to cheat, but there is no real sanction. In principle, you are guilty of criminal fraud if there is prize money, but I could not find any reference to anyone being charged in any sport. There are efforts to stop betting fraud, but that is it. If you do not have accomplices who confess, and the police are not interested, there is not much tournament organisers can do about a well hidden computer. They have no right of arrest or search. Putting your hand in your pocket between moves is not very suspicious, and you could be using their toes to type. The most the organisers can do is ban the suspected contestant, and he might even contest that in court. Cheating arguably is not a real problem for organisers unless it it apparent to others.

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  27. Reading the comments on that link raises an important issue. Current technology could be detected using a simple metal detector. Bare feet and hands above the table rules would also make computer use more difficult. Toilet breaks? Make sure they are no computers or communication devices in the toilet either.

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  28. Not only metal detector that detect just metals,but junction detector that detects electronics devices,actually u can detect metal in the mouth of someone,and almost every good british shoes has also metals.but how could u check if there is electronics inthere too??!
    My advise: swiss tournaments,the arbiters should only focus in the 5 first boards(10players fighting for the prices)and check with detectors should be made after seatting on the board,each time,the board should not be visible to others players,either reducing access to that playng hall,or just adding a curtain to avoid others to see what happens in the game,but just arbiters focusing on that boards should be enough to stop any cheatter
    Its simple,the solution is so cheap ,and bytheway,that touch of security and excessive checking brings a glamour flavor to the event....like a vip club
    People will react well

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  29. Most people have metal fillings in their teeth. Some people have metal to fix broken bones. Others have pacemakers. Some shoes do have metal eyelets, but I suggest that all shoes be taken off, as in a mosque. Similarly belts with metal buckles. A simple scan should reveal any suspicious conducting (or semiconducting) material. If the scan reveals a suspicious object, the onus is then on the player to prove that it is not a concealed computer or communications device.

    A difficulty with your suggestion of scanning before seating is that players will want to leave the board, and I do not believe that it is practicable or reasonable to try to stop them from doing so.

    It would be better to scan every one on entry to the building, after conducting a detailed search of it for hidden contraband. Provided that we also insist on hands being kept in view at the table, the precautions are reasonably watertight. We can be reasonably confident that they do not have any contraband electronics in their possession, and even if they did, they would be hard pressed to use it. Nonetheless, the organisers should reserve the right to scan players again if they are suspicious, e.g. because of lots of visits to the toilet.

    Most English Chess Federation graded games are played in evening leagues, often in church halls. Weekend tournaments are often played in similar conditions. There is not much we can do to prevent cheating in events like those, and it probably does not matter too much anyway, provided people do not take the grades too seriously. Nonetheless, big prize money events and FIDE rated events are a different matter.

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  30. Focusing on the leaders players on each swiis tournaments will prevent cheatters from raising,even will prevent cheaters at all ,as ther is too little they could achieve.u can not stop the public ,but limit the visual contact could be achieved,no one can see them,and they can not see no one,like a mason club...the leaders to special room :) its cool even,a bit romantic,exclusive,elite,getting special attention from the arbiters,expectation from other players and public,recognition..they would said: "..hey look! he is the new one to arrive to the special room,were the leaders are ,were the chess level is high,maybe one day i will also qualify to the special rooms too,were i will be marked by a red-brazzalete during the game and people will note that from the distant,they can not even watch me.."
    Looks cool ,and cheap,chess should reinvent itself from time to time ,as religions ,as cults,as politics,as singers shows
    What u think

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  31. If you allow the public into a tournament, you have to keep them completely separate from the players (unless you scan them all too). Will people pay to just see an image that they could have seen on the web? At the top level, perhaps chess is a professional sport, and cheating does not matter unless it reduces ticket sales. If that is true, the numbers mean nothing.

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  32. Nono,people should not be touched orscanned,it takes only a day when some cool guy post a youtube video of 15minuts explaining how to built a device to cheat or explaining how to cheat using a wide range of methods... And the whole chesss tourmanent system mustchange,because cheaters willmultiply exponentially,how manyarbiters and how many reffere forums and events every year after year..usesless,the whole history of chess tournaments is an stupidity ,some heroes that we' considered heroes may notbe so,what if Vachier of france team could not be detected on time?!are sure of Giri and Caruana?! who is Anannd?

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  33. There does not appear to be any alternative to scanning everybody (including the organisers) on entry. Nobody has to be touched, but if the scanner gives a signal they have to prove that they are clean, otherwise they are not allowed in. If this is not done, the results are indeed worthless.

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  34. A lot of signals will vome out from the scanners,specially non linear junction detectors(to check for electronics) could be camouflaged carefully grounded and no signal will go out from hidden electronic devices,so u need to relay on metal detectors,and these will come out wit h a lot of signals,the only way is to check the 4-5 first tables ,all arbiters resources should focus on it,and such players should be signaled with coloured brazzalets and no eyes contact between them annd the visitors is only garantee by some sort of curtain,mobile,fast to install ,like in hospitals,no way visitors coul be updated with the boards in real time,ofcourse scanning only such tables ,

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  35. I believe that my suggestion is feasible, for big money and top level events. When rating prizes are awarded in a large open event, it is not only the top tables that matter. Games on the lower tables also count towards ratings. Providing a bucket in the corner of the curtained area for natural functions is also not likely to be acceptable.

    If the person has anything metallic on their body, a metal detector will give a signal. That is not a problem. Ladies with hip replacements may choose not to compete, unless the organisers accept a medical certificate and accept that the signal is coming from the right place. A few players opting out is less bad than having widespread cheating. However, in local evening leagues, chill out!

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