There are two main ways to cheat at chess:
- While sitting down at a traditional board game Player A moves a piece or multiple pieces when Player B isn't looking.
- When Player A gets advice during a game, especially without Player B knowing about it.
As a result this website will focus on the second point regarding getting tips about specific moves to make during a game.
It's unpractical to have a grand master chess champion with you in person giving instructions while you're playing Chess with Friends on your iPhone. As a matter of practicality I'll be discussing computer assistance, which is at least as good as, if not better than the best human chess players in the world.
In an online chess environment the simplest form of cheating goes like this:
- Player A is white
- Player B is black
In this scenario Player B will be the player that's cheating.
Before the game starts Player B has a second game of chess setup against a Computer Opponent, with the computer skill level set to very difficult.
The second game looks like this:
- Player B is white
- Computer Opponent is black
The two games will be played simultaneously. The two games are:
- Game 1 = Human vs. Human (Player A - white vs. Player B - black)
- Game 2 = Human vs. Computer (Player B - white vs. Computer Opponent - black)
After seeing Player A's move in Game 1, Player B makes the exact same initial move in Game 2.
Remember that Player B has:
- the second move in Game 1 against a human opponent, because Player B is black in Game 1 and
- the first move in Game 2 against a computer opponent, because Player B is white in Game 2.
However the computer responds in Game 2 is exactly what move Player B will do in Game 1.
Here's an example illustrating how a game might open:
Setup: Player B is black in Game 1 (left) against a human opponent and white in Game 2 (right) against a computer opponent. Player A can not see Game 2 and doesn't even know it's happening.
Move 1: Player B watches Player A move the pawn in front of Player A's queen out two spaces in Game 1 (left). Player B uses an identical opening move in Game 2 (right) against a Computer Opponent.
Move 2(a): Before making a second move in Game 1 (left), Player B waits to see how the Computer Opponent in Game 2 (right) will respond to the opening move. Remember the opening moves were identical in both games. Player B sees the Computer Opponent in Game 2 (right) move the pawn in front of black's queen out two spaces.
Move 2(b): After Player B sees the Computer Opponent in Game 2 (right - see Move 2(a) above) respond by moving the black pawn up two spaces to meet the white pawn, Player B copies the exact same move the Computer Opponent made. This pattern will continue for the rest of the game.
Move 3(a): Player B watches Player A move his Queen's bishop out (above). Before responding to this move in Game 1 (left), Player B replicates the move in Game 2 (right) against the Computer Opponent. Player B will need to see how the Computer Opponent responds before making another move in Game 1 (left)
Move 3(b): Player B makes a move in Game 2 (right). The move involves taking the queen's bishop out to the same square that Player A did in Game 1 (left). Player B is continuing to mimic Player A's moves against the Computer Opponent.
Move 4(a): The Computer Opponent in Game 2 (right) responds to the bishop move by moving the pawn in front of its King out one space. Player B will now make the move the Computer Opponent just did in Game 2 (right) and copy that move in Game 1 (right) against Player B (the human opponent).
Move 4(b): Player B makes a move in Game 1 (left). The move is the exact same move that the Computer Opponent just made against Player B in Game 2 (right).
By continuing this process throughout the entire game Player A in Game 1 will essentially be playing against a Computer Opponent set to maximum difficulty.
In Game 1 Player B will simply serve as an intermediary for the Computer Opponent. At the same time that Player B loses to the computer in Game 2, Player B will win Game 1 against the human opponent (Player A). Since computer chess programs are superior to human players Player A would lose even if he was the best human chess player in the world.
This video is instructive only as another example of what was discussed above regarding basic chess cheating explained and the basic chess cheating example.
If you haven't scanned the chapters mentioned in the previous sentence this video might not make very much sense. The only audio during this video is an annoying poor quality song. There's no instruction or explanation. I'd suggest watching this without audio.
This video is demonstrating the Rybka computer chess engine, which is basically a chess program that's won several computer chess tournaments. You can read more about Rybka at the wikipedia page about it - link here.
There are three problems with this basic chess cheating strategy:
- This only works if the cheater plays the black pieces against the human opponent and therefore gets to go second. This immediately rules out this strategy half of the time.
- The cheater must exactly duplicate the Human Opponent's moves against the Computer Opponent for the entire game. One small slip-up and the entire strategy is derailed.
- The cheater can't pick up expert tips whenever he wants, like in the middle of the game or towards the end.
Because of the problems outlined above the most ideal way to cheat is to be able to get Computer assistance about specific moves anytime you want during a game.
In order to be able to do this what we need is:
A computer chess program that allows you to manually setup chess pieces anywhere you want on the board (to replicate the human vs. human game you're actually playing) and the ability to start playing against the computer from that point forward.
Let's try an explanation with an example:
Say that you're Player B (white below) and midway into the game you find yourself in the situation pictured immediately below and you're not sure how to respond. You want to cheat ... or to put it nicely get some advice.
To summarize - Player B (white) is in trouble. He feels like his back is against the ropes and he needs to fight his way out of this pressure Player A (black) is putting on him.
Remember that since Player B is white in this game he couldn't have used the simple cheating strategy (explained here) because that requires the cheater to be playing the black pieces in the human vs. human game.
In order for Player B to get some computer assistance he's going to need to replicate this game from this point on against a Computer Opponent.
Player B will switch over and play the Black pieces against the Computer Opponent. Whichever way the Computer Opponent responds with white pieces is how Player B will play the remainder (or at least a portion) of the first game against Player A (the original human opponent).
Player B needs to create the mirrored scenario below to play in conjunction with the game against human opponent Player A.
At this point, before Player B moves again against Player A, Player B will first wait to see how the Computer Opponent responds and then Player B will copy that move to the game on the left.
In this example let's say the Computer Opponent (white) in the game on the right decides to move the king's knight out to put the black queen in guard.
See illustration immediately below.
Player B witnesses the Computer Opponent's move in the game on the right and makes the exact same move in the game on the left against human opponent Player A. See image below.
This pattern will continue as long as Player B wants.
Player B has effectively utilized the basic cheating strategy (described here), but in a way that allows Player B to begin receiving computer assistance regarding specific moves at any point during the game. In the basic form of this type of cheating Player B would have to have been playing the black pieces and have kept a game with a Computer Opponent going the entire time to receive this sort of direction.
Remember, Player A does not know that midway through his online (Chess with Friends, etc.) game with Player B that Player B began a mirror image game against a tough Computer Opponent.
Player A was feeling pretty good about himself and thought he was good position, but he had no idea that the switch just happened from playing Player B to playing an impossibly difficult Computer Opponent.
Not surprisingly this technology exists, but at the time of this writing it's not as abundant as you might think.
There is one iPhone App that I recommend and one website worth checking out. I don't have any affiliation with the app or the website. If you have other suggestions please contact me and let me know. I'll include additional resources on this site as I learn about them.
This website isn't the most user friendly and the processing speed is lacking at times. Never the less, you can perform the functions I illustrated on this site. In fact I used this website for the screen grabs, so there are other useful features besides simply cheating by running a mirrored Computer Opponent game.
The reason this website isn't fully functional is actually explained on the site:
"At the present moment, we are showing the first crude version for demo purposes."
Hopefully by the time you read what I'm currently writing the apronus.com site will be fully functional.
Once it's up and running it should offer these features (also described on the current site):
- Set up arbitrary chess positions.
- Generate JPG chess board images (diagrams).
- Play chess by making legal chess moves on the chessboard on the right.
- Share these dynamic chessboards with others.
- Embed such dynamic chessboards in your own pages about chess.
- Play email chess with your friends by exchanging these dynamic chessboards.
- Play chess online for free against a chess playing applet.
- Set up any chess position and play computer from this position online for free.
- Adjust the playing strength of the chess playing Java applet.
- Set up chess puzzles with an analysis board and play them online against a chess playing computer applet.
- Share chess puzzles over email by links to dynamic chessboards or to the chess playing computer applet with the puzzle as the starting position.
"set up any chess position and play computer from this position online for free."
is exactly what's needed to implement the cheating strategies described on this website.
The iPhone app for cheating at online chess and specifically marketed for cheating at "Chess with Friends" is aptly named "Chess Cheats."
Here's the gist of how the Chess Cheats app works:
- Open the Chess with Friends app (or any online chess game you're playing) on your iPhone
- Take a screenshot of the Chess with Friends game you're currently playing on your iPhone by holding down the power button and the home button at the same time (this is how all iPhone screen shots are taken).
- Exit your Chess with Friends app (or whatever chess app you're using)
- Open the Chess Cheats app
- In the Chess Cheats app you pull up the screen shot of your Chess with Friends game. This is very easy to do. Simply select the screenshot from your image gallery. The Chess Cheat app has a button in the lower left hand corner to easily do this. See the picture below.
- After uploading the screen shot of your game into the Chess Cheats app (below picture on right) there's a button in the lower left hand corner to see what move the computer system would make.
- Decide whether or not you want to make the move the computer suggests and hit the button in the upper right hand corner (below picture on the right) to return to your game of Chess with Friends.
The Chess Cheats app costs $0.99 (like a lot of apps) and I decided to try it out for myself so I purchased a copy.
Obviously $0.99 isn't much money on any budget but I felt even better about buying this app after digging a little deeper and learning about the guy who developed it.
Meet Shawn Gano.
This is his personal website: http://www.gano.name/shawn/
He looks and seems like nice guy.
- in his 30's
- from Michigan
- went to undergrad at the University of Michigan
- got his Masters and Ph. D at Notre Dame
- lives in Pennsylvania with his wife (Rebekah) and dog (Chester)
- likes scuba diving
- got his private pilot's license in 2004
This is someone I'm happy to support with my small contributions of buying his $0.99 app.
So, I tried the app out and it was even easier to use than I thought it would be.
I used the Chess Cheats app on a couple of my friends without telling them.
This wasn't a very friendly thing to do, but I justified it by calling it research for this website. The app worked in that I won the games, but the games were against friends that I normally beat.
An experiment to see how the Chess Cheats app stacks up against excellent players:
- Setup a chess match between a computer chess program that's set to maximum difficulty and the Chess Cheats app. The way to do this is to use the method described in the basic chess cheating example. A simple illustration of the setup is pictured immediately below. In this example the "Computer on Difficult Setting would make the first move.
I'm usually playing multiple games (against different people) at the same time, so keeping track can be a little challenging considering you have to exit the Chess with Friends app each time you use the Chess Cheat app, but this really only becomes an issue when I have lots of games going back and forth at the same time quickly, which isn't all that often.
Using this Chess Cheat app is still waaaaaaay faster than manually setting up a mirrored chess board for every game I'm playing.
Realistically, unless a cheat was built directly into Chess with Friends I'm not sure what could be quicker than simply plucking screen grabs of games.
Before you leave
Check out the "About Me" page which is named Cheating at "Chess with Friends" for reasons that will be apparent once you check out page.