Questionable Tactics

How to protect your self from these tactics.


What I am about to discuss here with you is not to be disclosed to any one outside this club and doing so may result in immediate termination.

I am in no way implying that any one here should use these methods to gain an advantage to increase their ratings and if I find out that any one has done so I will immediately terminate them and put their handle on our Club abuser list.

I give you this information to protect you from such abuse and to inform you that you should be aware that there are unscrupulous people who will take advantage of you if you do not take precautions to avoid such abusive tactics.

This is another reason to play people in our club, play in team games, league games and play long standard games in order to minimize playing such players.

Protect your self from unscrupulous players. Use the no-escape and play only those who use it. A few years ago there were few players to play a game with who were using no-escape, but today typically there are usually more than 600 players logged in. You can see who is playing with the no escape variable by typing who n. Set your auto-flag to 1. Put in your finger notes about your policy on take backs, replay, mouse slips, talking during a game, etc so that there can be no misunderstandings for your opponents as to how you want to play your chess games.

This is another reason why we must have more members who we can trust to play fair with us.

What you see and don't see at FICS

Often you see players ask about the comparison of FICS ratings to the USCF, FIDE and other chess site ratings. They may be told to view the Survey Bot that collects ratings and analyzes them for that comparison.

When I took the list of ratings from Survey Bot and made a statistical comparison to see if I could determine if they did in fact compare somewhat to the USCF ratings, I was surprised to find that those ratings varied by more than 200 points either way for most rating categories?

How could it be that far off I thought for so many categories?

Also strange is the fact that FICS appears to want to hide any such comparisons and has never provided any such statistical analysis to be made public. When ever you question an admin about it they usually tell you that such a comparison cannot be made and is impossible to make because of various factors of internet play that differ from OTB play.

On the other hand when I went to the ICC chess server as a guest, I found just such a chart to view. And it effectively showed the comparisons both for USCF and FIDE. That chart clearly shows a close comparison between their rating system and both the other two rating systems and shows in detail how they obtained their data. Why is this possible on ICC when FICS says it can not be done?

There is only one conclusion I can think of and that is the FICS ratings have been skewed by factors that FICS has little interest in controlling, do not wish to control and do not want it made public, for they know that they just do not have the voluntary man power to do it and seem indifferent to it even existing.

I think that the ratings are skewed because of the questionable tactics that players are using to gain an advantage to increase their ratings other than using their superior chess skills for which they have no interest in increasing by hard work.

Are they cheating? Well yes and no. We may say that they are, because they may be taking advantage of methods to increase their ratings at your expense, but FICS may say that they are not doing anything wrong that is against the abuse rules that they can be sanctioned for.

What? How can one cheat legally?

I decided to write this page so that you may be aware of these unscrupulous methods to protect yourself from these players.

If you find some one that you suspect is doing any of these things its best to say nothing to abuse and don't ever accuse them of cheating unless you have unquestionable proof that you can document. Even then you may still get an argument from FICS or they will simply ignore you.

The best way to handle this may be just to say nothing to FICS and the player as well and just put them on your no-play list, or if you must say something then just bring it to their attention that in your opinion you feel that they have used certain questionable methods to gain an advantage over you and therefore you are going to put them on your no-play list and censor them, and then do it and say no more to them Be especially careful to not let them bait you into a conversation over it that they can copy and paste to FICS. Remember what FICS says about accusing people of cheating.

Here is my list of these methods that I have observed over the years on FICS.

1. Lag cheating
Often you see people complain of some player who seems to have controlled the time such that he gained a favorable time advantage. But he is told its just internet lag and time seal takes care of that problem. Nothing to worry about. But is it?

Are you aware of the fact that you can create lag to favor you in a game and no one can prove that you are doing it?

Well at ICC they do know how it's done and so their interface was designed to look for just such abuse and report it.

All one has to do to create it is to open a dozen windows on your computer and the resulting load on your computer drags down its performance to the point that lag will appear as a result slowing down your game clock to give you more time in your game while your opponents clock is running at its proper speed. So then this may make it possible for you to win on time.

2. Sandbagging
FICS says it's abuse and against the rules to sandbag to reduce your rating. And they claim that any one who resigns after a few moves to intentionally lose a game to do so will be sanctioned. Or if you intentionally lose to a friend to increase his rating and reduce yours its sandbagging as well.

But if you want to reduce your rating legally it easy to do it perfectly legal by simply playing very strong computers and losing to them, and doing so as often as you like. No one can accuse you of intentionally losing to a master rated computer. In fact if you did win when you are rated at 500 or 700 points lower than it, you probably would surly be suspected of using a computer program to win.

If any one questions your persistence in playing them and losing so many games to them, your defense is a sound one of reason in that you just want to learn how to be a better chess player and are trying to increase your chess skills from the lessons you receive from a highly skilled bot.

But in effect you are legally sandbagging to reduce your rating and there is nothing that FICS can do about it.

3. Eeeking
Players who want to increase their ratings but not do any of the work that is necessary for doing so, like reading chess training materials, buying books, training CD's, practicing tactics on the internet, engage in game analysis, etc can do so legally by simply playing much lower rated players who may let them in order to gain valuable experience and increase their chess skills. No patzer or novice players will complain that they have been taken advantaged of if they give their consent to play games with these lazy immature cowards. This is a common and well known practice that is called Eeeking at FICS.

How does this skew the rating system? Lets say there are 1000 players who are at 1600 and then we add another 1000 players who are really only rated at 1500 but because of their inflated rating from using unscrupulous methods such as eeking their rating is at 1700 a 200 point difference. It becomes clear that this 200 point difference is going to make a significant difference in the overall rating system. It will inflate the rating system such that when you set your formula to only play people with in your range of play your formula is going to not accept the correct ratting difference. It is going to reduce it to a lower rating than what it should be because it is now inflated.

So how does this affect you? Well when your formula is proctored to only play people within your rating level of play, it can not take into account the effect of this inflated difference that has been created. And so now your formula is now going to restrict and accept players of a lower rating than what you had intended to play and this again will effect your rating as well as you win more games against a lot of lower rated players who you thought were higher rated. The result is that your rating gets inflated as well. And this is but one factor that can explain the huge discrepancies in the survey bot ratings.

And so the FICS rating system is skewed (Screwed) again from these types of players who do not have any real chess skills but their rating show that they are skilled players.

4. Dupe Accounts
How do others who have dupe accounts affect you? Consider why many of these dupe accounts are formed? If you form another account you then can play against this dupe account and win against it and thus increase your rating. After you have taken a lot of points away from this new account (Remember these new accounts start out with a 1700 Blitz rating) then you can delete the dupe account and start a new one and do the same thing again. You then can sell your points by losing to another player. Thunderduck actually did sell his points using a dupe account and said so in his finger notes. See note 8.

Another reason for forming several dupe accounts may be to inflate them by one losing to the other in small steps to avoid any attention and then have each one lose to you in small steps also so that now you can increase your rating with out taking a chance of being discovered. You then can delete all the accounts and reduce the risk of being discovered. This also has the added advantage of increasing your rating with out using a comp and being discovered as a comp cheater that is becoming increasing more easy for FICS because they now are using a program to analyze games for comp cheating.

Now if others play this person and he is now using a computer to reflect his new inflated rating few will suspect he is doing that because his inflated rating shows he is indeed a high rated player, and he has the history to prove it.

Now of course these people doing this have again skewed the rating system to inflate it.

5. The Time controls fiasco
Lets face it, serious, responsible and honest players want to win games based on their superior chess skills not by winning games with luck because their opponent lost on time. Yet that is exactly what it seems that the majority of players are doing at FICS.

Proof of this is that few players are interested in playing long standard games and fewer still, a lot fewer are interested in using increments in their time controls. Most of the games played on FICS including the tourney games are blitz games, like 3/0 and other quick times with no increments. When you ask about increments many will say I don't play games with increments. If you ask why they will just ignore your question because they don't want to tell you the truth that is that many know they are patzer players and the only chance they have in winning a game is through their opponent losing on time.

Why? Well many will tell you that they just don't have the patience for longer games, and besides they are just here to have fun and to relieve their boredom.

But the real reason is that most are just a lazy bunch not really interested in working very hard to obtain any worthwhile skills. They feel why work so hard for something you can get for free ! That is why they come to a free chess server too. They are obsessed with obtaining every dam thing that they can get for free in order to avoid to have to work for anything.

So they will use internet gimmicks like premove and any other dirty trick they can think of to win a game. They have honed their time skills to win games on time with out spending any time at all in any serious chess study.

Here is their tricks.
They will memorize as many moves as they can for one opening and one defense. Then they will try to breeze through those moves as fast as they can in order to gain a time advantage. Once they do then they will use all the other dirty tricks to try to distract you like chatting with you, swearing at you, telling you that you cheat or trying to upset you in any way they can to distract you from thinking. If you censor them they may then ask for an adjourn to disconnect to think or use a comp to find the next good moves and come back on to play again doing this over and over again adjourning to frustrate you and upset you. They may ask you for more time, or ask for mouse slip moves.

Some have friends that help each other play this game by sending you tells while you are playing in order to distract you. Even if you set your game to silence mode you can still be contacted with the Say command. The Say command can be used for communicating with an opponent during a game.

So then you will have to censor your opponent and any of his friends who may be trying to contact you. But you can't stop the say command and FICS refuses to fix that.

6. The adjudicate tricks
Many have found that if they disconnect in a near losing position with out a clear win for their opponent when their opponent has a filled or nearly filled journal there is a good chance that he will simply resign that game when his journal fills to 15 games in order to be able to play more rated games. So they can simple play these odds and win. Also remember that adjudicate may be so overloaded and with so few admins to adjudicate that you may have to wait a week or more before they can rule on the game. Meanwhile your journal is filling up with 15 games and then you can't play any more rated games. Your opoonent may be counting on this happening and is hoping that you will get impatient and resign this game to him giving this unscrupulous opponent more incentive to continue doing these types of dirty tricks. Rarely does abuse check players to see if they are resigning not lost games because they simply do not have the manpower for such checking.

7. Computer Cheaters
It is possible to play a game and to have this game observed with another account logged in and analyze the game with the chess programs Checkmate or Crafty.

If you are computer cheating this way, your opponent can on first sight do nothing do about it. But supposed you play such a person, you can type: allobserve and you see all players observing your game.

With: vars [observer name] you can see the interface this player is logged in with. Most interfaces, like checkmate and chesspartner tell, whether they are in engine mode. Then copy and paste the log and send it to the computer abuse account of the server.

8. The resume trick.
Some have found that if they honor a resume and then on the very next move log off again and the opponent is not using noescape they can then adjourn the game again and again. Their advantage may be to consult a chess program for the next move. Or their opponent may get so frustrated that they may just resign that game saying its only a game and not worth the hassle of fighting over it trying to get a win from adjudicate. Frequently if you complain to an admin what you may get is that the admin may say he has not done anything wrong if he is not logging off in a losing position. Then your only option is to ask for an abort or draw and if he refuses that and just starts to play another game what he is hoping for is that when your journal gets filled to 15 games and you can't play any more rated games that then you may just resign that game to get rid of some games so that you can play rated games again. If you ask for a adjudicate they may just abort the game if there is not a clear win for you. Only using noescape can prevent such jerks from pulling these dirty tricks on you.

9. The Time trick.
If you are playing a long game and it now looks like you are ahead and are going to win, a opponent may just not move any more and make you wait for his clock to run out with a considerable amount of time left. He is hoping that your patience is to short for you to wait and will just resign the game to him. If you complain to an admin the admin will tell you that he doing nothing wrong and that he has the option to do just that and that your only option is to put him on your no play list. Usually only noobs and lower rated players will pull such dirty tricks such as this.

How to protect your self
The best way to avoid these kinds of dirty tricks is to set your auto flag on, use no-escape, and play longer games with liberal increments to give yourself plenty of time to plan, think and avoid making mistakes. To really avoid unscrupulous people, you are much safer in playing in long standard games.

Players who choose standard time controls using increments usually are serious chess players who intend on improving their chess skills and wining games because they beat a player using the chess skills that they have developed over time by study and practice not using dirty tricks and other gimmicks. They want to feel proud of their accomplishments and their chess skills. Something others who aren't interested in doing can't lay claim too doing.

Since there is a serious shortage of trying to find standard games at FICS your best bet is to find tourneys, play team games, join other standard play leagues such as the STC Bunch on Channel 90, that has slow games like 45/45, 45/5, and 90/30 tournaments. The FICS 45/45 TeamLeague on Ch 101. Play in FICS Teams that use the FICS Team Bot. Type tg help for more info.

Because of FICS policy of not wanting to address these serious problems like other chess servers have done long ago, today many adults and most strong players who are interested in playing long standard games have long since gone to other chess servers who's policies protect them from the various abuses at FICS. Especially adults who don't mind paying a premium price to avoid abusive players and have the opportunity to play and watch games of strong players.

Personality I and many other serious players feel the policy of adjudicating games is especially annoying, since it is entirely unnecessary, as has most all other chess servers have found also. Why should players be penalized to not be able to play any rated games after their journal fills up to 15 games because of abusive tactics of immature players who disconnect in a losing position?

All that has to be done to avoid adjudicating games and avoid disconnection abuse is to have in place a optional 10 minute timer to be set before a game starts. Then if a player disconnects that player has only 10 minutes to resume the game or face the options of his opponent. The options could be, 1. forfeit, 2. give more time, 3. adjourn, 4. abort. What could be more fairer than that? If a player is plagued with a buggy connection he could say so in his finger notes. But the truth is that in fact it is very rare that a player can not reconnect and resume a game in 10 minutes, and the majority of other chess servers feel the same about disconnections. In fact most simply have a zero tolerance for disconnection and simply forfeit the game. You disconnect you lose! That's it and if you don't like that rule then go play at another chess server.

I personally know in fact many adults and masters as well who feel that because of FICS's lax policies on disconnection and other abuses have simply left and don't mind paying at other chess servers rather than try to put up with such inflexible rules at FICS. They feel that when you don't have policies that prevent abuse from happening in the first place and then try to resolve the abuse later with a adjudicate policy, it is just to frustrating to try to cope with such policies and so leave. They feel that after the strong players, responsible players and serious players leave that what is left is irresponsible, inconsiderate immature people and teens who don't give a dam about abusive players and who have no desire to pay any fees at other chess servers to avoid player abuse. And so the result is that now you just don't find many long standard games any more to play in. FICS has been reduced to a chess server that now advertises that it's a place to come to for variant games and blitz games and now says "whether you like blitz chess or you are fond of one of the many variants, here you can play chess over the internet for free"

However just remember the old adage that says "Anything that you can get for nothing is usually worth just that, Nothing!"

So if you insist on playing on a chess server that is free then be prepared to defend yourself against immature abusers, because it has not the resources 24/7 to protect you from them.