Kramnik's Controversial Cheating Allegations in Titled Tuesdays: Grandmaster Navara's Response

24.05.2024 15:56 | News

A recent tweet by Grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik about cheating in Titled Tuesdays has sparked a storm in the chess world.

Among those affected is Grandmaster David Navara, who decided to respond to the inaccurate allegations and provide his perspective on the issue.

Grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik recently posted a controversial tweet about cheating in Titled Tuesdays, which caused considerable outrage in the chess community. Many players felt hit hard by his words, as if struck by a hammer.

One of the players who decided to respond publicly described his shock and disappointment at Kramnik's words: "When I first saw it, I was shocked, as if someone had hit me in the head with a hammer. I quickly wrote an official complaint to FIDE and only slept for three hours that night." Even after several days, he still felt bad and had trouble focusing on other things. He found the tweet offensive, especially given the context and Kramnik's other statements about Titled Tuesdays.

Questions arise about whom Kramnik is specifically accusing. If the accusations pertain only to a few players from the list, why does he mention others in connection with "Cheating Tuesdays"? This is insulting and troubling for many players.

The tweet is also confusing from a statistical standpoint. Kramnik mentions centipawns (or "cantipawns" as he calls them), but it's unclear what the numbers on the right mean. Are they percentages? There are also other inaccuracies, such as when Kramnik refers to GM Frederik Svane, who has a classical Elo of 2636, as an international master. Svane has not played many FIDE-rated blitz tournaments, affecting his blitz rating, but he performed well in several OTB blitz tournaments in December 2023.

Accusations should be as precise as possible if they are made publicly. This player also shares his results from Titled Tuesdays since January 2024, where he averaged around 8 points out of 11 possible. Although he did better than in some OTB blitz tournaments, his results are not exceptional, and he did not win any prizes.

Overall, the player has participated in Titled Tuesdays about 30 times in his life, always scoring between 7 and 9 points out of 11 games, with an average between 7.5 and 8 points. He only once won $200 for 4th place. In OTB chess, he is a three-time European Blitz Champion, which he considers better results than those in Titled Tuesdays.

Fluctuations in form are normal and are not grounds for accusations. Even Grandmaster Kramnik had better and worse periods in his great career. Given that he knows very well how unpleasant and insulting it is to be accused without proper evidence, he should be more careful in his statements, especially when publishing them on social media.

Kramnik’s Metric Does Not Work

Grandmaster Kramnik does not explain his methods in his tweet, yet they somehow seem to indicate that a very low ratio of blunders made with 10 seconds or less left can be very suspect, especially in the case of lower-rated players. (This interpretation is mine and might be inaccurate. A blunder can be defined in various ways, and I do not know the details of his analysis.) The metric chosen by GM Kramnik looks very strange. I think we all know the cheaters who make every move in 2-5 seconds, play like a strong GM, and when getting low on time, start playing quickly, dropping pieces left and right. Such abusers would end up at the opposite end of GM Kramnik’s table, at its very bottom rather than at the top!

Given that there are quite a few such players in online chess, I think that GM Kramnik’s metric is pretty bad at determining cheaters.

It is actually even worse. Imagine a hypothetical situation where you invite 9 such cheaters and 1 honest player (who has average time consumption) for a 3+1 blitz event. The only honest player will be placed first (= most suspect) according to GM Kramnik’s metric, way ahead of the others who drop pieces left and right with a few seconds left. Absurd!

Perhaps GM Kramnik is trying to detect players who are using bots on their computers, thus being able to get hints in 1 second or less. But these players can simply escape his statistics by playing their games quickly enough to avoid severe time trouble!

The fight against online cheating is necessary, and we should use programs like Zoom as well as good statistics to better determine who is playing fair and who is not. This would prevent or at least reduce both cheating and unfounded accusations.

Public accusations based on highly problematic statistics do not make the situation any better and can also cause unnecessary pain.

Thank you for reading!

original text:

0x 371x Petr Koutný
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