prospect |  When chess is hard and cheating is easy, the next move is complicated

prospect | When chess is hard and cheating is easy, the next move is complicated

Make no mistake: thinking is hard. You can see it in the grand masters of chess, whose heartbeat triples galloping under their shirts. What separates champion Magnus Carlsen is his deadly immobility, an extremely thoughtful shudder under pressure, which makes his recent behavior all the more surprising. Basically, what Carlsen did in chess is the equivalent of overturning the board and scattering the pieces. Carlsen never gets angry – so he must be pretty upset.

What upsets him is the possibility that 19-year-old American Hans Niemann could have infiltrated the defenseless world of table chess to beat him with a machine. Unless he’s just upset that Niemann beat him. Carlsen’s explicit accusation on Monday that Niemann cheated in a match by relying on artificial intelligence to help him select his next moves – an allegation that Niemann denies – has plunged chess into underhanded speculation about devices hidden in cavities. The ability to receive such computer-generated advice via hidden signals is also an “existential threat,” as Carlsen puts it, to an old-world culture in which competitors have played on trust without checking what’s going on. shirt sleeves or trouser legs.

“The chess world has been pretty blasé and pretty relaxed in terms of taking the possibility of cheating seriously,” says American grandmaster and Twitch star Hikaru Nakamura, who for years played in tournaments where competitors have simply hung up their jackets before sitting down at a table, or were barely swept away. “…Magnus said something along the lines of, he’s not doing this for himself. It’s part of a larger issue, a larger situation.

Chess makes strange bed fanatics. Amari Cooper of the Cleveland Browns is addicted to chess, as is filmmaker-author Stanley Kubrick. When asked once why he found the game so fascinating, Kubrick replied, “It trains you to think before you grasp.” Cooper loves chess for the same reason. All sports actions are essentially micro-decisions, and even the quickest, most impulsive NFL receiver has to make fakes, counter-feints, and judgment calls.

Magnus Carlsen resigns from match after blow as chess storm intensifies

Anyone wondering if strategic thinking requires athletic-type endurance should consider the physical toll of chess players, who can lose 10 pounds or more in a tournament with their metabolic burn rate. In 1984, according to an ESPN story, Anatoly Karpov lost 22 pounds during his world championship siege with Garry Kasparov. A pair of American physiology researchers, Leroy DuBeck and Charlotte Leedy, pioneered the wiring of tournament chess players with a variety of sensors to test the relationship between thought and action. Sensors showed that respiration rates were skyrocketing. The adrenaline skyrocketed. The legumes galloped; contracted muscles. All the while, the players sat virtually motionless.

As Bobby Fischer once pointed out. “Your failures deteriorate like your body. You cannot separate the body from the spirit.

In recent years, the proliferation of live streams, adjustment trackers, and other tools has created almost a game within a game in modern chess tournaments. Rubber spectators watch for clues of mental cracking and physical distress in the quirky, contemplative figures reclined on the boards. During the 2018 Isle of Man International Tournament, fitness measurements projected onto a large screen revealed that Grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories while standing still for two hours. For comparison, the average person will only burn 100 calories running one mile on a treadmill.

The champion of this game-in-a-game has long been Carlsen, who trains so hard he traveled to the Norwegian Olympic center in 2017 to develop a physical regimen that would help him in the final five-hour game periods. . He does high-intensity intervals for 30 to 60 minutes on treadmills, hot yoga, and soccer, tennis, and basketball workouts.

This all brings us to Carlsen’s feud with Niemann, and why he’s apparently so suspicious of him. Earlier this month, Niemann, a clearly inferior player, beat Carlsen without breaking a sweat. Somehow, Niemann anticipated and quickly blocked an extremely obscure opening strategy from Carlsen. “I got the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully focused on playing in critical positions,” Carlsen said in a statement Monday.

This gave Carlsen a rare histrion: In a rematch with Niemann last week, he resigned after just one move and walked away from the set – a breathless gesture of protest that earned him a reprimand from of the international governing body of chess. But it also achieved Carlsen’s main goal, which was to subject Niemann’s playing patterns to scrutiny. The review forced Niemann to admit that he used computer support in online matches on when he was 12 and 16, for which he was banned. Niemann insists his recent rise to on-board chess has nevertheless been legit. When asked at the Baer Cup to explain some of his matches that seemed less than explainable, he replied: “I’m a very intuitive player.” It was not enough for Carlsen.

“I believe Niemann has cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted,” Carlsen charged in his statement on Twitter.

Carlsen appears to have grabbed the banner on behalf of a group of grandmasters who believe that artificial intelligence is beyond those who only play with their heads – and is not captured by current analytics or tournament organizers. Grandmaster Srinath Narayanan from India tweeted: “We all knew cheating was a serious problem. We all knew it was rampant. We all remained silent, not knowing exactly how to go about it. Magnus spoke about it and in a way that the world had no choice but to heed.

The rare instances of someone being caught point to the possibilities: In 2015, chess officials discovered that Arcangelo Ricciardi was receiving Morse code signals in his armpit.

Why should you or I care if a 19-year-old chess prodigy used AI or a signal to solve a board challenge? Because the Carlsen-Niemann confrontation raises the important question of “techno-solutionism”. Too much artificial intelligence in problem solving, in this case, can be more confusing – and debilitating – than helpful. The long-term cost of techno-solutionism can be fatal slack, both mental and physical. You don’t want to lose your conditioning for decisive human judgment.

Gaming while sitting for five or six hours straight is the most common desktop experience. We all know the particular exhaustion that can arise from this posture. It is a fatigue that feels different from any other type. It’s not your imagination. Clinical researchers have found that “decision fatigue” is a distinct form of expense, separable from other physical or cognitive loads. It affects our behavior and, if left untreated, can lead to reduced problem-solving ability, as demonstrated by social psychologist Roy Baumeister and a team of fellow researchers in a series of studies. . In one, a group of middle schoolers were asked to make product choices, on everything from whether they prefer pens or pencils. After making these small, not particularly important decisions, the selectors showed less physical and mental stamina than a peer group and less desire to study for a test.

The world chess champion is going to give up his title because he is simply “not motivated”

“Recommendation algorithms” can solve some problems, but they don’t always make us smarter or stronger. Not all probabilities deserve faith. When asked if technology has been good or bad for chess, Nakamura replied, “Wow, that’s a good question. It depends who you ask. For me, I would say that I really enjoyed learning the game without having that kind of second opinion, or superior opinion, or, like, perfect opinion. I really liked not having computer programs that just knew the answer to everything. I think I’m in between. I think it’s been very good for pushing the boundaries of our knowledge, but at the same time when you have these computers that are so much better than humans, and it’s possible, all of a sudden, to get an advantage and winning a game is also a problem.”

The limits of algorithmic predictions are very clear in Niemann’s mess. Chess observers have tried to use them to assess Niemann’s play, only to fall into a quagmire of arguments. One analysis finds his game to be in an unsuspecting range while another finds his performance unlikely.

“At the end of the day when we’re talking about watching the games, there’s probably only a handful of people in the world who can tell whether those moves look human or not,” Nakamura said. “There is a limited pool of people who can have legitimate opinions. It also makes things very difficult. There really is no agreement.

Carlsen called for better detection methods and added, “I hope the truth about this matter comes out, whatever it is.” But the chess world might discover that artificial intelligence or technological engines solve its new problems no more effectively than an age-old human practice: the code of honor, the development of consciousness, which solves problems before they don’t start. As Russian chess grandmaster Alexander Grischuck once remarked about the explosion of online chess and the proliferation of tools to cheat with, in the end, “it’s all about decency” .

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