Tuesday 29 October 2019

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated - what would be the point?

I'd like to look at a few positions from some of the games I played on Chess.com.

I've not been through all the games I played on that site. Nor do I intend to: I shouldn't have to and I haven't got the energy.

So why these games and why these positions? Because when Chess.com said I was banned, several games immediately came to mind, in which I remembered (having analysed tham after they were over) having made blunders of one kind or another. Missed wins, missed draws, other weak moves.

Which makes Chess.com's claim all the more incomprehensible. There may be no such thing as computer moves - but there may be such a thing as moves you don't play, if you're seeking to win games with the help of a program. And below, you can see some of them.

Analysis is pretty perfunctory where it's provided at all, because I assume readers have access to computers, and probably better ones than mine. I looked at these with DroidFish running on an Android phone and rarely getting much above 20-ply. So I'm not vouching for everything it claims, and once again, if your view differs from the one given here, that's what the comments box is for.

All of what follows has been put to Chess.com. (In fact, rather more than this: when emailing them I drew attention to quite a few manifestly inferior moves, ones where the computer sees many superior alternatives. I've omitted them here for the sake of relative brevity, but they are there to be found, if it should please you to look for them.)

I've not received an answer to any of them.
- - -

Here, as an aperitif, is a quick game, but not one so brief that it doesn't contain a remarkable miss by the winning side.

[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2019.02.27"]
[White "Justinpatzer"]
[Black "FathiAli77"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2124"]
[BlackElo "1976"]
[EndDate "2019.03.04"]
[Termination "Justinpatzer won by resignation"]
1. Nf3 Nc6 2. d4 d5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Bg4 5. Ne5 Nxe5 6. dxe5 Nd7 7. Qxd5 c6 8. Qe4 Qa5+ 9. Nc3 Nxe5 10. Bf4 Ng6 11. O-O-O e6 12. Qc4 Rc8 13. Bd6 Ne5 14. Bxe5 1-0

White played 12 Qc4 here, a perfectly good move, and for that matter one after which White may well be winning.

However, there is something stronger. See if you can spot it.

Or if you can't, ask your program, which will point it out immediately.

Position after 11....e7-e6

Did you see the spectacular win? I didn't. It's 12 Qxc6+.

DroidFish did.

But I didn't ask DroidFish, did I? Not until after the game had finished.

Next, take a look at the game below, or just skip to the three diagrams that follow it.

[Site "Chess.com"]
 [Date "2019.07.22"]
 [White "3foldcountergambit"]
[Black "Justinpatzer"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2125"]
[BlackElo "2210"]
[EndDate "2019.08.10"]
[Termination "Justinpatzer won by resignation"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 d6 5. c3 Bd7 6. Nbd2 g6 7. Nf1 Bg7 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 O-O 10. Ne3 Qe8 11. a4 a6 12. Bc4 Be6 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15. Bxd5 Nd8 16. O-O c6 17. Bc4 Ne6 18. a5 Rd8 19. Qb3 Nc5 20. Qb6 Rd7 21. b4 Bd8 22. Qa7 Ne6 23. Bxe6 Qxe6 24. Qe3 f5 25. Qxh6 f4 26. Ng5 Bxg5 27. Qxg5 f3 28. Rae1 Rf4 29. gxf3 Rh7 30. Re3 Rh5 31. Qg3 g5 32. c4 Kh8 33. Rb1 g4 34. Kf1 Rh3 35. Qg1 gxf3 36. Ke1 Rg4 37. Qf1 Qh6 38. Kd2 Rg2 39. Kc3 Rgxh2 40. Qd1 Rxf2 41. Re1 Rhh2 42. b5 cxb5 43. cxb5 Qe6 44. Rh1 Qc8+ 45. Kb3 Qc5 46. Rxh2+ Rxh2 47. bxa6 Qb5+ 48. Kc3 Qxa5+ 49. Kb3 Qxa6 50. Kc3 Qc6+ 51. Kb3 Qb5+ 52. Kc3 Qa5+ 53. Kb3 Qa2+ 54. Kc3 Rh7 55. Rb4 Qa3+ 56. Rb3 Qc5+ 57. Kb2 Rh2+ 58. Kb1 Qf2 59. Rxb7 Qa2+ 0-1

There's any number of second-rate moves in this game. Here are just some of them.

Position after 25 Qe3xh3

In this position I played 25...f4. But why not play 25....fxe4? It gives me a winning advantage after an exchange sacrifice on f3.

DroidFish sees it immediately. But I didn't see it. Could these two things be connected?

And why play 25...f4 anyway? White could have played 26 Qh3 with a sizeable advantage. Droidfish sees that move.

But I didn't see it.

Position after 31 Qg5-g3

I played 31...g5 here, which gives White a couple of ways to establish a large advantage.  (32 Kg2 and 32 d4 are favoured by Droidfish.) Why play like that? Why not play one of several better alternatives?

Position after 32 c3-c4

Black now played 32...Kh8 (again, there appear to be several superior moves available) with the idea of ...g4. But this idea fails to 33 Kg2! g4 34 h3, which DroidFish sees easily but which - because it allows the captures on h3 - is a lot harder to see without one.

Which is probably why I didn't see it.
- - -

Next example.

[Event "No computers please"] [Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2018.11.22"]
[White "Aminou80"]
[Black "Justinpatzer"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1734"]
[BlackElo "1965"]
[EndDate "2018.12.01"]
[Termination "Justinpatzer won by resignation"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Nh4 Bc8 7. e3 e5 8. Bxc4 exd4 9. exd4 Be7 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 Na6 12. Bg5 Nc7 13. Nf3 Be6 14. Bd3 Ncd5 15. Rc1 h6 16. Bh4 Re8 17. Bb1 Nb4 18. Ne5 Nfd5 19. Bxe7 Qxe7 20. Ne4 Bf5 21. Nc5 Bxb1 22. Rxb1 b6 23. Ncd3 Nxd3 24. Nxd3 Qf6 25. Ne5 c5 26. Nf3 Rxe1+ 27. Qxe1 cxd4 28. Qe4 Rd8 29. Qxd4 Qxd4 30. Nxd4 Nb4 31. Nf5 Rd2 32. Ne7+ Kf8 33. Nc8 Nd3 34. b4 Rxf2 35. Nxa7 Ra2 36. Nc8 Rxa4 37. Nxb6 Rxb4 38. Rxb4 Nxb4 39. Kf2 Ke7 40. Ke3 Kd6 41. g4 Nd5+ 42. Nxd5 Kxd5 43. Kf4 g6 44. h4 f6 45. g5 hxg5+ 46. hxg5 f5 47. Kf3 Ke5 48. Ke3 f4+ 49. Kf3 Kf5 50. Kg2 Kxg5 51. Kf3 Kf5 52. Kg2 g5 53. Kf2 Ke4 54. Kg2 g4 55. Kf2 g3+ 56. Kg2 Ke3 0-1

Again, there's all kinds of inaccuracies in this game (just to draw your attention to one of them, 17...Nb4 allows 18 Rxe6 which is at very least a promising sacrifice) but the way play went from the position below seems to me inexplicable. Inexplicable, at least,  if we're looking to computer use as an explanation.

Position after 32 Ne7-c8

Black can win a clean pawn here with 33...Nc6, trapping the knight and forcing 34 b4 Rd8 35 b5. I also have some winning chances if I play 33...Rd7.

I played neither move, but instead chose 33...Nd3 - which demonstrably leads, and did in fact lead, to an extremely drawn ending (even though White contrived to lose it with 41 g4??).

Why would I play like this if I knew there was better? Why turn winning chances into a draw?

It's nonsense, isn't it?
- - -

The following game includes a number of spectacular oversights. In fact, with the first three diagrams I'll invite the reader to solve them without even consulting a program.

[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2018.11.25"]
[White "Justinpatzer"]
[Black "PeterNL"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2003"]
[BlackElo "1856"]
[EndDate "2018.12.02"]
[Termination "Justinpatzer won by checkmate"]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. g3 c6 5. Bg2 d5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. O-O O-O 8. Nc3 Ne4 9. Nxe4 dxe4 10. Ne5 f5 11. Qb3+ e6 12. Rd1 Qd6 13. Bf4 Qa6 14. Rac1 Nd7 15. Nxd7 Bxd7 16. Rc7 Ba4 17. Qb4 Rac8 18. Rdc1 Bc6 19. Rxc8 Rxc8 20. Qb3 Kf7 21. e3 Qa5 22. Bf1 a6 23. Rc5 Qd8 24. Bc4 Qd7 25. d5 Bxd5 26. Rxc8 Qxc8 27. Bxd5 exd5 28. Qxd5+ Ke8 29. Qg8+ Bf8 30. Bd6 Qc1+ 31. Kg2 Qd1 32. Qxf8+ Kd7 33. Qe7+ Kc6 34. Qc7+ Kd5 35. Qc5+ Ke6 36. Qe5+ Kd7 37. Bb4 Qf3+ 38. Kf1 Qh1+ 39. Ke2 Qf3+ 40. Ke1 Qh1+ 41. Kd2 Qxh2 42. Qe7+ Kc8 43. Qe6+ Kc7 44. Bd6+ Kc6 45. Be5+ Kb5 46. Qd7+ Kc4 47. b3+ Kc5 48. Bd4+ Kb4 49. Qa4# 1-0

(a) position after 14...Nb8-d7

(b) position after 21...Qa6-a5

(c) position after 22...a7-a6

(a) I played 15 Nxd7, which is level. Why not just win the game with the elementary 15 Rxc8, getting me two pieces for a rook?

(b) I played 22 Bf1. A minor point is that this allows 22...Bd5, after which White would have had a hell of a jopb trying to create winning chances. But a more immediate point is that 22 Rxc6 wins immediately!

(c) I played 23 Rc5. But I think you can find the right move, if you have not found it already.

DroidFish sees all this instantly, of course. And at this point I'd invite you to consider how galling it is, after having found these moves only after the game and with a program, to be told that I must have been using a program during the game itself.

Position after 16...Bd7-a4

This last example from this game isn't quite so serious, but worth looking at, because there are two moves for White here that don't lose instantly. I found one of them all right, but the one I found, 17 Qb4, was clearly the worse of the two. (17 Qa3, which makes ... Bc6 hard to achieve, gives White the advantage.)

Why would I play like that?

- - -

This is a game I lost, Why I am playing with the help of the computer in order to get beat? Come to that, why am I playing in order to get beat in games lasting more than fifty moves on the board and more than a fortnight in time?

[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2019.07.07"]
[White "MRValero"]
[Black "Justinpatzer"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2182"]
[BlackElo "2167"]
[EndDate "2019.07.26"]
[Termination "MRValero won by resignation"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O Re8 7. d3 a6 8. Ba4 h6 9. Be3 Bxe3 10. fxe3 d6 11. Nbd2 b5 12. Bb3 Be6 13. Bc2 Qe7 14. h3 d5 15. exd5 Nxd5 16. Qf2 g6 17. e4 Nf4 18. Nxe5 Nxh3+ 19. gxh3 Nxe5 20. Qg3 Qg5 21. Qxg5 hxg5 22. d4 Nc4 23. Nxc4 Bxc4 24. Rf2 Be6 25. Kh2 c6 26. Rg2 Kg7 27. Rxg5 Rh8 28. Rg3 Rh4 29. Rf1 a5 30. a3 b4 31. axb4 axb4 32. Rf2 b3 33. Bd3 Ra1 34. Rd2 Rc1 35. Re3 g5 36. Rg2 Kh6 37. Rg1 Rxg1 38. Kxg1 g4 39. hxg4 Kg5 40. Kg2 Rxg4+ 41. Rg3 Kf4 42. Rxg4+ Bxg4 43. Kf2 f6 44. c4 c5 45. dxc5 Bd7 46. Be2 Kxe4 47. c6 Bc8 48. Bd1 Kd4 49. Bxb3 Kc5 50. c7 Kd6 51. Bc2 Kxc7 52. Ke3 Bh3 53. b4 Kc6 54. Bd3 Kd6 55. Kf4 Kc6 56. Ke3 Kd6 57. Kd4 1-0

At the risk of boring the reader through repetition, there are quite a number of poor moves in this game and when writing to Chess.com I gave a lot of examples. But let us here confine ourselves to two.

In order to lose a game, you have to miss chances not to lose it, and I did. Once again, why would I do that?

Position after 38 Kh2xg2

You'll quite likely need to look at both examples on your computer, and for all I know your computer will disagree, but I played 38...g4 here, which DroidFish tells me is losing.

I did not play 38...Bxh3, which it tells me is pretty much level.

Maybe I should have asked it at the time, eh? Instead of what I did, which was to spend long hours analysing both moves, and choosing the wrong one.

Position after 44 c3-c4

I had a second chance, and blew it. DroidFish tells me there are all kinds of bishop moves here which appear to comfortably hold. But I panicked, and played 44...c5, which doesn't hold at all.

I don't think this is how somebody plays when they're using "outside assistance". I think it's patently how they play when they're not.

- - -

Of course there's an obvious answer to any and all of this, which is that a sophisticated computer user would of course seek to disguise their computer use by making mistakes here and there.

Well for sure, no doubt they would.

But tell me, if the effect of that supposed disguise is to play in the same way, with the same mistakes, in the same style, with the same level of results as I would without it - what in the name of God would be the point?

I mean maybe I just played these five games clean, and employed a program in all the others. Fine, show me how that works, the other seventeen games must be some high-level stuff, yes? But if you take a look, you may find that on the whole they're plodding games, like the ones I usually play.

You can never prove you weren't using a computer. But does any of this make sense?

Course it doesn't.

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