Someone has been cheating in our tournaments.
This wasn’t completely unexpected. Online chess is riddled with people who think they’re clever by using existing chess programs to give them their next moves. The anti-cheat system we employ caught this player within hours of their first infraction and gave us all the time we needed to act on it. The question was, what now?
If you’re new to the CEA, we run video game tournaments (yes, chess is a video game now) for more than 200 companies around the world. Each Saturday, more than three thousand working professionals challenge each other in their favorite game for nothing more than glory. The Microsoft vs. Google Rocket League match is a seasonal tradition. Amazon is opening with the Sicilian against Walmart. We joke often that the difference between CEA and the Superbowl is that nobody wants to win the Superbowl this badly.
So naturally, cheating is taken very seriously. We do the basic stuff: The cheater’s team loses the match by default, and all matches including the cheater are retroactively set to losses.
But then what? What if a player has a question about why they won a game they thought they lost? What if somebody demands to know the cheater’s name? Why shouldn’t we default to transparency?
The answer is empathy. The CEA is a unique environment. When everything you do is literally underlined by the company you work for, scrutiny and pressure to succeed are at an all time high – for yourself, for your team, and for your company. And we understand that many companies participating in the CEA would not look kindly on an employee representing them deciding to take dishonest means to victory.
We don’t want to be the reason that somebody's career hit a ceiling, or worse, a wall. We don't want to let one bad decision dictate years of somebody's future. If CEA is going to be the force for good that we claim to be, public naming and shaming of cheaters isn't punishment - it's a destruction of our values as much as that individual's career.
So now we arrive at a policy.
- First and most importantly, no anti-cheat algorithm is perfect. Any game that was played all season long involving a cheater is marked as a loss.
- Victims deserve justice. We do our best to edit tournament matchups and standings to properly reflect the new situation.
- We don't allow repeat offenders. They are removed from the tournament going forward. Each case is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, they may be allowed to register for the next season under strict scrutiny.
- Finally, let it go. Move forward down a better path.
So that's our solution. How do you think we did? Tell us in our socials below.