October 04, 2008

The BanzayFish scandal - Scene II (Blindness)

You probably know that the final edition of a movie that reaches the theatres has nothing to do with the original script. There are always new ideas from the writer, the director and sometimes the actors that alter the content, the scene sequence and the characters. In our case, I must add Scene-II in the middle of Scene-I, after the end of the Internet game between you and BanzayFish and before the local club simul with Marta. There is no variation this time. You (only you) play the leading role.

Scene II

When the Internet game was over you were very angry, but your conscience instructed you to try and forget the incident, as if BanzayFish never addressed insults against you. But BanzayFish did not forget. She was angrier than you, insisted that you cheated her with computers, and decided to act further. She sent a message to you, using the messaging system of playchess.de, did not hesitate to append her e-mail address (very irritating, don't you think?), with a content of only two words: "pathetic guy". Then she made an Internet search and found your name as a member of your local chess club and posted a comment to your chess club web site, repeating her accusations. She signed the post as WIM Marta (full name of course).
You discovered the post a week later after a phone call from one of your friends. You reacted with honor. You knew that playchess.de games in pgn format include the comments that accompany players' moves and uploaded a collection of BanzayFish games to your own web site, so that anybody can see that BanzayFish (or WIM Marta as you believed) has a very dirty mouth. You posted the link answering Marta's accusations. Another week passed and Marta, still angry against you, posted another message, this time threatening that she is going to denounce your bad sportsmanship to the National Chess Federation of your country. An official complaint is really frightening, isn't it?
And you, my friend, instead of asking yourself why a strong and well known chess player pays so much attention to an Internet game, you bonded the handle BanzayFish and the real player WIM Marta. You never thought of the possibility that BanzayFish and the real WIM Marta are two totally different persons in no way connected to each other.


Allow me to start with the final conclusion. Our little virtual chess club is blind (totally blind, unforgivably blind) compared to the real world of OTB chess, where real chess players meet in open tournaments and play each other on real chessboards with real pieces, real clocks and real score sheets. They have the chance to meet, talk, have fun and drink a couple of beers together. What do we have? The distance that separates us is a thick dark colored curtain that does not allow us to have real contact with each other. Technology offers e-mail, instant messaging system and video conference but all these cannot be compared even with a simple handshake.
FM Sotiris Logothetis who more than his title is a GFM (this means Great Friend of Mine) doubted in the first place that WIM Marta uses the handle BanzayFish. This piece of information (with details that are not mentioned here) was the key that unlocked Thomas's own doubts and started a week long Internet research that has just ended.
I asked Sotiris what are the differences between Internet and OTB chess. He said that apart of game psychology (click for the must-read Anand’s interview) and a chance of post-analyzing a game together, the most important difference is responsibility. When you play OTB you are responsible of yourself. I don't need to explain that, right? Responsibility is not required to play chess from home. You may pretend to be your wildest fantasy and even make believe all opponents that you are somebody else.
When I realized what was going on in our site, I asked myself what kind of person could do such a thing. Suddenly I remembered what IM Nikos Kalesis told me one night: "I don’t believe that chess isolates people. On the contrary, chess attracts lonely people and offers them a chance of socialization!" (By the way, Nikos is the trainer of the Greek National chess team of blind people).
What kind of person is this BanzayFish? How many cues are left behind that may lead to a character profile? Fortunately too many. But when we played against BanzayFish and ZorMaster and other handles as well, we never considered the possibility that something goes wrong, because of this thick dark colored curtain that separates us. We must admit that we are blind. We don't remember what we can't see! Take the blindness test and then check your game history. Perhaps you can find some cues…

So, a cheater accused many players for cheating. Some of these players could be real cheaters and they really used computers. There are many cheaters out there, isn't it? Who cheated whom with a cheat-cheat here and a cheat-cheat there? Here a cheat, there a cheat, everywhere a cheat-cheat. Who deserves the best cheater Academy award? "And cheaters, wherever you are out there…" I hail you with the same three little English words that Al Pacino used in the crowded Baird school auditorium, in the final scene of the film "Scent of a woman". (Remember that the hero Frank Slade was a blind person)

Blindness test

Memory may cure blindness. One of those handles was “anne_t”. I remembered that I played against her 5 years ago and I annotated our game. Click here for the annotation. What do you observe? What goes wrong here? You don’t have to read the whole annotation. You don’t even have to scroll down the page. The critical information lies in the comment after 2.Nc3

Well, any comments? Please, no sharp language, no real Dutch names.

Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at October 4, 2008 06:12 PM

Thanks for writing a very good story, also if you find the cheater please let me know as I would like to ask them why. Most of the time I get bad messeges back, but sometimes I get real answers too.

Posted by: Tanis at October 5, 2008 02:57 AM

Blindness, self imposed or real? You say that the internet is blind. Why?
Our governments spend millions on advertising. They tell us not to put real names and information online. We are told that if we do, we will be raped, kidnapped, frauded, identities will be stolen, bank accounts will be drained, and we will be killed. Why? I can step outside of my door and any of these things can happen to me. This does not stop me from going outside and talking to people. Why then should these things stop us from being who we are on the internet?
It is true that some people are morraly corrupt scum that lie, cheat, and steal. These people are few and easily dealt with. They are hardly worth waisting the time to talk about them.
The internet and mass instant communication around the world kind of makes governments obsolete. Is this why they encourage fear and no communication? Seriously, what do we need them for now? Is it to work out trade negotiations? If I need something from Iceland I can instantly talk to hundreds of people there and work out a deal to have it sent to me. Do we need them for foriegn relations? A million people from one place can instantly talk to a million people from another place, this sounds like foriegn relations to me.
Ah, enough of my antisocial views. This article was on cheating. Simple, if someone cheats, don't play them, resign before 10 moves and the game isn't rated. Ignore thier posts and messages. If nobody plays or talks to them, they will leave.

Posted by: David Hansen at October 5, 2008 06:35 PM

"They tell us not to put real names and information online. We are told that if we do, we will be raped, kidnapped, frauded, identities will be stolen, bank accounts will be drained, and we will be killed."
I agree with you David.
They tell us (warning) not to put our real name, but what is the status for using somebody else's name?

Indeed, the article IS about cheating.

Posted by: Michalis Kaloumenos at October 5, 2008 06:59 PM

"They are hardly worth waisting the time to talk about them."

I also agree, but this case is an exception. It is both inspirational and educational.

Posted by: Michalis Kaloumenos at October 5, 2008 07:03 PM

What is all this fuss about ?

I understand nothing !

Why make such a fuss about those Dutch handles?

Posted by: gambitfan at October 5, 2008 07:30 PM

gambitfan: The fuss is that the internet provides anonymity. You don't know if your opponent is who they say they are. Not everyone is honest.

Michalis Kaloumenos: I'm guessing the critical part of the comment is the reference to 'Ann'. Since her username is 'anne_t', and you spend a lot of time on the annotations and writing, I imagine you looked up her name in her profile, and at the time, it said 'Ann'? I can't imagine you would have intentionally misspelled it the same way throughout the entire annotation. That's not your style.

Posted by: HFlew at October 5, 2008 09:52 PM

A chess site like playchess.de should be happy to welcome top level chess players...

Idendity check is very easy on internet, as easy as detecting cheaters...

I exchanged emails with BanzayFish and ZorMaster ; I read all of her exchanges on Playchess.de.

I think there is a little pack of frustrated "Fritz9" players on Playchess...

Thanks to their beloved Fritz9 they reach astounding PCRs 2300 - 2400 whereas top real human players reach "modest" PCRs 2000.

Those Fritz players are furious with those ladies because they do not like to be reminded of theit vacuity...

That's all !

It is fun for me to play with nice human beings and I am honoured if I can play with top level players...

I am not ineterested in playing with computernerds who sleep with their Fritz9...

Posted by: gambitfan at October 5, 2008 11:02 PM

who are you and those dutch(ladies),that you can say when somebody is using fritz or some chessprogram.maybe there are more good players and not only you.It's about loosing a chessgame and I know that there are people who can hardly live with that,because they think they are the best.Too big ego's and when somebody beat them,they are with their nose on the facts that they are not unbeatable.And then it's easy to say that there are cheaters.

Posted by: chessdisaster at October 6, 2008 09:32 AM


Impossible to know who he is. He accuses, gives names except his. He played a game against BanzayFish that finished by:"Funny, i am WIM and you ever play better Fritz" and draw...
Sometimes he says to be "harassed". Owing to all this, he cares everytime to keep fairplay and good manners to facilitate the social life.
I sul up: You are disaster, and he's fan.

Posted by: onzedu at October 6, 2008 11:35 AM

For those who say I am anonymous, just have a look at the PLAYBOOK BASIC DIRECTORY !

Posted by: Gambitfan at October 6, 2008 02:34 PM

Zmaster vs onzedu
Aadje vs onzedu
Youcan lok at your game with BanzayFish. i did it.Why not you?
Hi polite you,????????

Posted by: onzedu at October 6, 2008 03:20 PM

I commented several times that it was unusual for so many of the alleged Dutch to have the same bad manners/attitude. Michaelis is now hinting that it may have been more than coincidence. Gambitfan, if it turns out that these alleged Dutch players were not in fact who they claimed, and possibly they were all manned by a single individual of questionable character and human chess skill, then how will you react after all this fuss in "their" defense?

Posted by: Shurlok at October 7, 2008 05:39 AM

Gambitfan, look at this game:


is it just a righteous anger? Nobody provoke her. I know this man personally and I know that he never uses chess engine, but plays chess for 40 years and knows the game quite well.
Was he happy to hear all this bullshit about rybka? Your behaviour is funny, you are repeating your tirades time after time, you think, all of as so stupid that we can`t understand what are you talking about? Why don`t we changing our mind, how do you think?

Posted by: kublya at October 7, 2008 05:58 PM

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