A Bird Food Vendor Beat an Online Chess Master. Then it got ugly

March 2 Levy Rozman, in a pink sweater and round glasses, was broadcasting his Chess.com matches to 12,000 viewers on Twitch. “Alright, that looks like a cheater,” he said without pause, clicking on the pigeon icon of his opponent, Dewa_Kipas. Rozman, an international chess master, scanned the profile in disbelief. His opponent had climbed nearly a thousand points in the space of a month, ranking 2,300 against 2,431 for Rozman. And his profile did not include the kind of title – “FIDE master”, “national master” – that the ranking implied. In fact, Rozman would later find out that Dewa_Kipas, or “fan god”, was a bird food vendor in Indonesia.

The cat echoed back: “LMAOOOO”, “CHEATER”. “Let’s see if we can get some content here,” Rozman said.

Rozman has been playing chess tournaments since the age of seven. In 2011, he obtained the status of National Master, and in 2018, International Master. Now 25 years old, he is not only known on the chess circuit; Like the other top players, he has built a large following on Twitch, YouTube and Twitter. High-level chess has seen a unprecedented online boom due to pandemic. On average, 895 people watched chess streamers on Twitch on March 1, 2020; a year later, this cumulative audience rose to 21,491 people.

In this predominantly digital world for the 1,500-year-old game, it’s tempting to believe that every truly top-tier player would now be a known quantity – whether through the International Chess Federation rankings or the International Chess Federation rankings. social media. No one could come out of nowhere and dethrone a chess king, could they?

Rozman knew that if his opponent cheated it would be a strange game; algorithms often make choices that most humans simply wouldn’t. Still, little things baffled him. At Rozman’s level, the obvious movements usually take place within seconds. Dewa_Kipas regularly took between seven and 10 seconds to make a move against the chess master, even though he had only one or two options. Pointing out the knight of Dewa_Kipas on his stream, Rozman said he was worried his opponent would move him to A5. “I would expect that, although it’s a computer, so I would also expect some weird pawn play,” he said. The knight moved to A5.

In their attempts to climb the competitive ranks, cheaters refer to AI-powered chess engines to inform their moves. And as chess moves more and more online, allegations of cheating have exploded, according to top online chess site Chess.com. Rozman himself turned cheat hunting into a bit. On YouTube, where his thumbnails are full of silly faces and chessboards, Rozman started a ‘catch cheaters’ series, which he turned into a similarly themed Discord channel. It’s an entertaining break between big-brained chess games and long, thoughtful matches – light pieces in the burgeoning content economy of online chess.

Twelve thousand viewers applauded Rozman as he played against Dewa_Kipas. About 10 minutes later, his opponent’s tower had blocked the King of Rozman. Black won. “REPORT IT!” “POLICE!” shouted cat.

Rozman went through his opponent’s stats again. The accuracy of Dewa_Kipas, or the similarity to how a chess engine would play, during the match was 94 percent; Rozman was 76. In his last 10 games, the accuracy of the count has never dropped below 80. He has passed 99 percent in two of them. Rozman denounced him that day. Hours later, Chess.com banned the account.

That hateful night posts, many of which were written in Indonesian, began to fill Rozman’s social threads. Threats, even. His girlfriend got the same: “hey bitch, we’re gonna kill you soon haha, from indonesia :).” Rozman was tagged on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, with accusations he used his notoriety to ban a legitimate player. What sparked the assault, he learns, was a post on an anime superfan’s Facebook page.

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