Mastering Deception: The Rising Threat of AI-Powered Cheating in Online Chess


AI-Powered cheating systems for chess on the rise

There have been allegations in the world of online chess about players cheating by using AI or chess engines. Here’s a brief explanation of how this could potentially be done:

A chess engine like Stockfish or AlphaZero, when properly used, can analyze the positions on the chessboard and calculate the best possible moves, considering multiple future scenarios. These engines can perform millions of evaluations per second and are generally far more accurate and capable than even the most skilled human players.

During an online game, a player might use a separate device running a chess engine to analyze the current state of the game. The player then simply inputs the position of pieces from their online game into the chess engine, which will recommend the most statistically advantageous move. The player then makes this move in the online game.

Doing this essentially allows a player to have the AI ‘play’ for them without it being immediately apparent to their human opponent or even to anti-cheating software, especially if the player doesn’t use the AI for every move or intentionally makes some suboptimal moves to appear more human.

However, it’s important to note that most reputable online chess platforms have implemented sophisticated algorithms and techniques to detect this kind of cheating. They may monitor players for patterns that match those of known chess engines, or keep an eye out for players who make a high percentage of ‘best’ moves that would be extremely difficult for a human player. These platforms often have severe penalties for players caught cheating, including permanent bans.

Can’t AI-powered cheats in chess be detected?

In theory, it may be possible to train an AI to behave less like a traditional chess engine and more like a human player, with the goal of evading anti-cheat software. This could involve introducing random elements to the AI’s play, having it occasionally make suboptimal moves, or developing a style of play that doesn’t closely match any known chess engine.

However, there are some significant caveats to consider:

  • Difficulty: Creating such an AI is a nontrivial task. The development and training of an AI model capable of playing high-level chess while also mimicking human-like imperfections is a complex and time-consuming process. But there are SaaS (Software as a Service) providers that offer AI model training services. Such platforms allow users to train machine learning models for a variety of applications like recommendation systems, predictive analytics, natural language processing, image recognition, and so forth. These platforms often allow users to provide their own data, specify certain parameters or use case scenarios, and then use the platform’s computational resources to train the model. Some even offer pre-trained models which can be fine-tuned on specific tasks. However, it’s crucial to note that using such a service to create an AI for cheating in online games would almost certainly be a violation of the terms of service of both the gaming platform and the AI training platform. Responsible AI use requires abiding by ethical guidelines and legal restrictions, which prohibit such misuse of technology. Moreover, even if someone managed to misuse an AI service in this way, it wouldn’t guarantee success in bypassing anti-cheat systems, and as mentioned before, such behavior carries significant risks, including potential legal consequences.
  • Detection: Even with such an AI, it’s unlikely that cheating could go undetected indefinitely. Platforms are constantly updating and improving their anti-cheat algorithms to identify suspicious behaviors and patterns. While an AI might not play exactly like a traditional chess engine, a consistently high level of play could still raise red flags, leading to further investigation. In addition, behavioral analysis, like observing the frequency and timing of moves, can also be used to detect non-human play.


Even though cheating in this way is technically possible, it is not only ethically wrong and against the terms of service of these platforms, but also undermines the spirit of the game and the player’s opportunity to improve their own skills.