Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cheater no.6: Richard Hartley

Richard Hartley, a supercilious loser

Nothing good can be said about this dude. Loser in chess, loser in life, he joined The Dark Side and became an online chess cheater. Nothing special at all, there are many similar guys, however Hartley is unique in several ways.

He used to be a fan of both, chess and computers, and he understood the infamous potential of computers in correspondence chess. Years ago, back in late 80's, he started to play correspondence with mediocre success. Although computers weren't at their today's level and good unassisted players were able to keep up with them, Hartley perhaps used one and managed to beat unaware weaker players. This led him into wrong conclusion he is great player himself and his ego improperly boosted. Later the computer use became common and Hartley lost the ability to maintain his status, so he left official correspondence chess and joined online chess. He couldn't help himself and continued with computer use on chess sites, even though they explicitly prohibit engine use. His profile he created on Red Hot Pawn is really amazing: he calls himself "Correspondence chess master". I think sooner i become pregnant before Hartley becomes chess master! His life got ruined when he divorced, but this gave him enough time to become full time cheater.

In 2007 Chess.com started and Hartley joined in early 2008. Chess.com is weird site somehow. Engines are prohibited, but staff had for long time no clear measures how to distinguish cheaters from honest players. Some cheaters have been banned in the process, however in small amounts compared to increasing number of members, so Hartley used to be relatively in safe. However many other cheaters were so and step by step the site became spoiled by them as many really good players joined The Dark Side too. Hartley was a humble cheater: he never broke the 2600 line. Being a single, he joined the community of chessplayers with obvious intent to date women, but no luck: teenage girls are monitored by fathers, young women aren't naive to date older men on the internet and soon have real boyfriends, married women aren't interested in dating single losers and fake women are just fake. This didn't stop him and he continued in his attempts, pretending chess skills and satisfying his ego in unfair chess.

The whole situation started to change, when two great members of Chess.com, SteveCollyer and Costelus, tried hard to help people realize the truth. The Summer of 2009 was filled with discussions, whether former #1 player Ouachita was excellent honest player or cheater. Both sides had their arguments and the whole controversy seemed undecided, however now from retrospect, it seems clear. SteveCollyer introduced a method already used on Red Hot Pawn. Ouachita was indeed cheater. Hartley understood the danger and thus he decided to undermine Steve's and Costelus's efforts in the following cases: Achmatova and Wikstrom. While insistently disputing Steve's method, he reported Costelus for unfair behaviour towards Wikstrom and continued to push on staff to remove Costelus from Chess.com. When cheater Wikstrom left the site by himself, staff decided to act and removed Costelus too (in March). Now the Polar_Bear woke up angry. When i wrote that Wikstrom was indeed cheater, Hartley blocked me and blathered about unfair behaviour of "witch hunters", not bothering to hide his gloat about Costelus. That was the last drop. Needless to say, i got completely furious. Damn, is he idiot and wants Chess.com full of cheaters like Wikstrom, or is he cheater too? I downloaded a first version of analyzer and tested him. POSITIVE. Now i knew: Hartley is cheater. I sent a report (in May), but nothing happened and i had to remain silent. I waited and waited and waited... It took two long months, when Erik visited the cheating forum and started conversation with SteveCollyer. Erik Allebest, the head of staff and owner of Chess.com, had to realize, that some members aren't satisfied with cheating detection and decided to invite some members to indirectly participate. The problem: Hartley got by Erik's mistake invitation too. I repeated my analysis, now more precisely with more games and re-opened my report, followed by two other members. Our results were identical: Hartley is cheater beyond any reasonable doubt. The probability of statistical fluctuation and Hartley being honest fair player was in magnitude of atomic/cosmic proportions. Two or three days later, Hartley was finally banned.

33 comments:

  1. These are fun to read. Thanks and keep up the good work.

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  2. Hi Martin,

    I came upon your site by accident, and I was devastated. Can we discuss this by e-mail in a civilised way?

    Sincerely,

    Marten Wikstrom

    PS: you know my e-mail address (marten.wikstrom@helsinki.fi)

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  3. Don't worry prof. Wikstrom, there is someone else who knows who you really are: a fucking cheater. It's sad, but it's true. There are jerks even in academia.

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  4. Caught twice, Professor Wikstrom, by chess.com. They closed the second account you set up after leaving the first one. I wouldn't trust you with a canary.

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  5. Wikstrom: What are you expecting i should do? Delete my blog or at least edit the article about you? Never! Not only you knew the rules and cheated anyway, but also you lied about it in arrogant manner. You are walking proof that honour approach doesn't work in online/correspondence chess and pillory is needed. University professor - cheater.

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  6. http://www.chess.com/members/view/monogame
    was Wikstrom trying to re-apply at chess.com.
    Get a life, dude.
    Good blog, Mr Polar_Bear. Keep tearing those cheats to pieces :)

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  7. http://edufire.com/users/33955-languages-other-tutor-richard-hartley

    Hahaha
    Richard Hartley: "I am an internationally ranked chess player also".

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  8. Do you have a good attorney? If you don't take this website down, you're going to need one.
    Defamation, slander, libel etc-all legally actionable.

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  9. Dear anonymous, let's say Hermann Goering was a nazi war criminal. Can it be a slander? No, because it is the truth. Richard Hartley is online chess cheater with arrogant manners. It is no slander, because it is 100% truth.

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  10. It is likewise the 100% truth that this blog is full of libelous language and arrogance, by Martin Zeman the righteous blogger. It is scaring that the geographic (and mental) distance between Martin Zeman and the boss of Hermann Goering is so short.

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  11. Yes, i feel offended by some anonymous idiot, who has no respect for my research about cheaters and their identities.

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  12. Respect is not something one gets automatically, it should be earned. And it is certainly not by calling everyone with a different opinion an idiot, or worse. Repeating your claims over and over does not make them stronger. Your so-called research is suspicious, at least as long as the only evidence is saying that you have it in your laptop :)

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  13. I'm curious to know how his research is "suspicious". Anyone who's well-educated about cheat detection arrives at the same conclusions as Polar Bear.

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  14. well, anonymous, you may start by reading the discussion at
    http://www.chessgames.com/player/yelena_dembo.html?kpage=21

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  15. I've read the comments on that page, and all I can see that might pertain to cheat detection being flawed are some members claiming that it's flawed. And these claims all seem to be based on the nitpicking of one members writings. It does little to counter the strong evidence of its effectiveness. There are master level players involved in the process who would all agree with Polar Bear on these matters. I'd like to know if there's any high ranking chess player familiar with cheat detection who disagrees with people like Polar Bear's findings.

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  16. So, is this quote from the page a lie? Collyer might not be a high ranking chess player, but he is definitely more than familiar with cheat detection

    "Collyer in charge of the 'cheat-section' for Chess.com has realized the errors in the methods employed against Yelena, and has backed off of the accusation, so none exists. This decision was independent, made without pressure, and decided much later than Chess.com's own decision to retract the accusation"

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  17. To be honest, I'm not sure if Collyer retracting his conclusion is true. I know I haven't seen the guy write anything like this though. But just in case you're unaware, and this seems to be a common misconception, Collyer isn't in charge of banning cheaters. All he can do is suggest members for the staff to investigate.

    The part about Chess.com retracting its conclusion is a complete lie, however.

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  18. The quote read "retract the accusation", not the conclusion. How do we know that retracting the conclusion is a complete lie?

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  19. I said "conclusion" because it seems that's what Collyer came to. I'm not sure it's accurate to say he just made an "accusation". He's a guy who obviously does the research and analysis.

    Chess.com retracting its conclusion is definitely a complete lie because if they'd done so, they'd have given Dembo her account back. If they felt they were wrong, this is what they'd have to do. Obviously if they keep her account closed, they still think she's guilty. All they did was remove the "account closed for cheating" label, and only because a lawsuit would cost precious time and money, whether they win or not.

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  20. Fair enough. But then we come back to the level of the research, which is not a trivial matter. To my knowledge this blogger has not given any information about methodology, which is the reason why I found it suspicious.

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  21. For research, I think most people use what is called the "Top 3 methodology", where the total number of a players moves over 20 games are compared to the top choices of engines. This excludes opening moves, as well as forced moves I believe. If you look it up you should be able to read about it in greater detail.

    A site like chess.com won't reveal all its investigative measures of course, as the cheaters would then try and modify their behavior accordingly.

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  22. The result (and the conclusion!) will very much depend on the methodology. For example, it is indeed necessary to average over more than 20 arbitrarily chosen games against strong opponents (if opponents are significantly weaker than the player, we get the situation discussed in the above quote). As far as I have understood, Collyer does not omit forced moves. My point is that - as is the case with chess.com - we do not know on what methodological basis this blogger has made his conclusions! This is why I remain suspicious.

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  23. Perhaps we don't know what exactly people base their conclusions on, but what we do know is that, in the case of Dembo, nobody is out to get her - certainly not chess.com. Obviously it's very beneficial to have someone like her on the site, and I'm sure you're aware of the trouble it's brought them to ban her. So I think you have to at least acknowledge their integrity and credibility in this matter. This, coupled with their expertise, makes me think there's no reason to be suspicious.

    Same thing with the blogger; he has no reason to try and railroad anyone. He does his own research, but I imagine that he too places a great deal of trust in the chess.com staff.

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  24. I do acknowledge the integrity and good intentions of chess.com, but good intentions unfortunately don't guarantee performance without mistakes.

    Since you base arguments on possible motives (or the lack of them), I think we should in all fairness also ask what motives Ms Dembo as a world class professional grandmaster player would possibly have to cheat on a chess site using her own name?

    The blogger might not have reasons to railroad anyone, but the text he has posted on this site is indicative of a fanatic who is unable to distinguish between objective evaluation and personal attacks, using foul and obscene language combined with case stories of his own invention.

    Somehow I tend to distrust such fanatics when it comes to objective judgement, but you may not share that opinion.

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  25. I don't condone vulgar language, as it doesn't accomplish anything, and can understand someone finding it offensive. But at the same time, I can't blame the blogger for being angry. He's been exposed to so much of this garbage, and likely been victimized himself many times by it. And being fairly familiar with his writings, here and on chess.com, I've seen enough decency from him to not classify him as a fanatic. I think he, like may others, was especially upset by Dembo cheating, as their tends to be a level of trust people have with titled players.

    As for her motives, it was clear that Dembo was on their mainly to promote herself. She offered services as a coach and had written a book she wanted to sell. A surefire way to get attention and establish credibility with the people on the site is to have a high rating. She played a lot of games there, and it seems plausible that she didn't have the great deal of time it would take to secure victory in almost every match (she never lost once, despite all the stiff competition, which should raise a red flag). A solution to this for her would be of course to let an engine do her thinking for her, which explains her very high matchup rates. You have to wonder why she'd even take this risk, but the fact is that she, like most cheaters, for whatever reason just didn't believe that she'd get caught.

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  26. You've "seen enough decency" from the blogger on this site? I am very surprised, but perhaps you have missed the part about Ms Dembo?

    Your hypothesis on Ms Dembo's motives is of course virtually identical to the blogger's story. You indeed have to wonder why she'd take such a risk. Then you speak of her belief of not getting caught as if it were a fact. I'd rather paraphrase Norman Mailer and call it a factoid.

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  27. I've seen plenty of decency with him on chess.com, yes. This blog is more of a place for him to vent about things. I know he was vulgar in Dembo's case, but from what I've seen it's not nearly common enough to call him a fanatic.

    Yeah, I didn't mean to say it was a fact that Dembo didn't think she'd get caught; I misspoke on that one. What I meant to say was, it's a fact that most cheaters for whatever reason don't believe they'll get caught, so it's very reasonable to assume that she was one of them.

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  28. Of course, "It's very reasonable to assume that she was one of them" only if it is reasonable to assume that she cheated. I don't think it is, but thanks for your opinions, which I appreciated!

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  29. I strongly doubt that Collyer's methodology of cheat detection comes without false positives. In this vein, it would be interesting to analyse 20+ games of ALL chess com players rated above 2500. My bet is that >90% will be labeled "engines" by Collyer's method. I am equally certain that the proportion of engine users is far less.

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  30. No detection system invented by a weak "C" class player with zero chess credentials and limited understanding of the royal game (Collyer) is going to have sufficient accuracy to label (libel) someone a cheat. In fact I would venture that Collyer's method is wrong at least 75% of the time. His lynch mob method of picking players to "investigate" who are unpopular because of their rating, results, or their forum posts is an embarasment and potential liability for chess.com, otherwise why would chess.com withdraw the accusation when Dembo showed some backbone? If chess.com's methods were 100% accurate, chess.com SHOULD have taken it to court, first because the cheating detection process needs transparency which is lacking - certain titled players are allowed to continue cheating because they are friends with staff) and second to lend credibility to the process. With no credibility, nobody cares.

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  31. Ha! This method wasn't invented by Steve_C, but Steve_C wasn't lazy to prove its robustness. There is no doubt people on Chess.com banned list are all cheaters (including this class B player Mr. Hartley, who is pretty arrogant on top of it), the real issue is the opposite problem: some cheating idiots are active for long time and still considered by part of community as great players. The second problem: it is quite easy to create new account for banned cheater and sneak back.

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  32. So what prevents Martin Zeman from exposing those "cheating idiots" that some consider great players? Some uncertainty of the method after all? A risk of being accused of cheating yourself? Or what?

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  33. Nothing. Cheaters must get what they deserve.

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