Local chess ace reflects on cheating in wake of global scandal
Chess has always been a classic game to play with friends or family. The amount of strategic thinking can be daunting to some, but thrilling for others, and many pursue competitive play in chess tournaments around the world.
However, since the revelation of alleged cheating by American chess grandmaster Hans Niemann earlier this month, the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in chess has come under scrutiny.
Local chess player Anand Gupta, 18, gave the Sammamish Independent his take on the prevalence of cheating in competitive chess.
Gupta started teaching chess in the summer of 2021, and now has 15 students. He also learned how to moderate tournaments last year, and has begun hosting tournaments for his students.
Young players often have the notion that cheating does not lead to punishment, is Gupta’s analysis.
“Artificial intelligence by itself doesn’t seem to be the problem. The problem that has risen recently is partly due to the chess boom where many young players think that they can cheat without any punishment,” Gupta said.
When playing, Gupta has had a few instances where he harbored suspicions of his opponents moves in online tournaments, until they made a mistake in their next turn, which contradicted what a computer would have done.
Cheating is not a new concept introduced only with technology, but it was a relatively insignificant problem until the fully remote time period where many people took advantage of not being constantly monitored. Personally, Gupta has never faced a confirmed cheating situation in his matches. However, during some of his tournaments he had personally seen the impact of cheating where he became the automatic winner of the prize fund when it came to be known his competitor was banned from Chess.com.
“[Multiple] times where people I knew were banned from Chess.com in my own tournament, and [I had to] take their prize fund from them,” Gupta said.
However, this has not discouraged Gupta from playing chess. His main goal is just to play a good game, even if the end result is not what he hoped for.
With this mindset, Gupta participates in many competitions for pure enjoyment, and thinks of the concept of winning as an additional reward. This past March, he was part of the team from Eastlake that placed third at the KingCo chess competition.
The team attended five consecutive weekly tournaments. After successfully placing in the top five for those smaller tournaments, they qualified for state.
Gupta was born in India, where he often played chess with his relatives. He moved to Sammamish when he was 8 years old, which also marked the beginning of his competitive career. He immediately joined the Alcott Elementary School chess club and began participating in tournaments.
Gupta also joined the organization Chess4Life during elementary school to refine his skills, and now he trains with chess coach Sloan Setiadikurnia.
Gupta’s passion for chess has only grown over these 10 years. He has competed in more than 150 competitions, including 50 state and national tournaments.
Now a freshman in college, he is participating in a six-week tournament and representing the University of Washington.
Gupta explained that chess has had a great impact on his personal life. It increased both his intellectual and concentration skills, and has heightened his ability to solve problems. It has even given him a leg up in college classes such as economics.
“We were talking about trade offs and how companies make decisions,” Gupta said. “There I could see [the relationship between] chess. I look at the trade offs between each move and what can go bad, the pros and cons of each move. I was able to catch on [to the concept] much faster than most other people.”