By Chess Coach William Stewart

Original article on the Frtiz Chess Cheating Scandal
The International Computer Games Association (ICGA) released a public statement on June 28, 2011 declaring the ultra-strong computer chess program Rybka guilty of plagiarism, specifically alleging that the author/programmer Vasik Rajlich plagiarized two other strong computer chess programs (Fruit and Crafty) while designing the code for Rybka. Rybka has been the undisputed Computer Chess World Champion for the period 2007-2010, however it is extremely unlikely the program will compete in the November 2011 Championship.

ICGA President David Levy stated:

“By a unanimous 5-0 decision of executive members of the ICGA we find ourselves in agreement with the verdict of the Secretariat’s report. We are convinced that the evidence against Vasik Rajlich is both overwhelming in its volume and beyond reasonable question in its nature. Vasik Rajlich is guilty of plagiarizing the programs Crafty and Fruit, and has violated the ICGA’s tournament rules with respect to the World Computer Chess Championships in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The ICGA demands that Vasik Rajlich return to the ICGA… all prize money awarded for Rybka’s performances in those events.”

What is ICGA, what is their stance?

To my understanding, the ICGA allows participant programs to utilize source code from other programs – as long as this copy is properly cited to give credit to the original author. Rajlich did not credit another program and attributed Rybka’s strength solely to his unique programming. His response to these allegations has been lackluster at best, stating:

“Rybkahas does not “include game-playing code written by others”, aside from standard exceptions which wouldn’t count as ‘game-playing’.

The vague phrase “derived from game-playing code written by others” also does not in my view apply to Rybka.”

The Ruling

This ruling was officially published less than 2 weeks ago, so I’m sure Rajlich is putting together a team of lawyers to dispute and appeal these allegations. As to why Rajlich allegedly did it, who knows? He is obviously extremely intelligent, an International Chess Master (IM) who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I am not a computer programmer and don’t entirely understand the deep technical aspects of this plagiarism, as some degree of source copying is allowed while other types of copying with respect to actual game play is not – however the ICGA’s statement ended with a line that certainly casts doubt on Rajlich’s innocence:

“During the course of the investigation and upon presentation of the Secretariat’s report Vasik Rajlich did not offer, despite repeated invitations from the ICGA to do so, any kind of defense to the allegations…”

For more on the Frtiz Chess Cheating Scandal visit William’s site.

By Chess Coach Will Stewart (USCF 2256, FIDE 2234)
Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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