Fair Play on Chess.com: What you Need to Know

What are the rules?

  • No chess programs or engines (e.g. Chessmaster, Fritz, Komodo, Houdini, Stockfish, Chessbase with any active UCI engine, etc.) can be used to analyze positions in ongoing games at any time.  
  • In Daily Chess (turn-based games with several days per move), you may consult books or databases (including the Chess.com Explorer) for opening moves. "Tablebases" - which are specialized databases of particular endgame positions - may NOT be used at any time. Further, you may not consult an engine to provide an opinion on your opening database, self-preparation or analysis that would relate to a particular game-in-progress on Chess.com.
  • In Live Chess, no outside assistance OF ANY KIND is permitted.
  • Fixing game results by playing with multiple accounts or losing intentionally is also against the rules.

How do I report someone whom I do not believe to be playing by the Fair Play rules above?
  • If you have reason to believe someone is referencing the illegal assistance of engine analysis, please report it here and include all relevant info (username, reason for suspicion, etc). Our Foul Play Detection Staff will conduct a thorough investigation, gathering statistics and reports on said user, keeping all findings confidential, taking appropriate action against the reported user if/when a concrete assessment has been made. 
  • Please do not discuss your suspicions in the forums!
  • Please do not make public accusations on a users wall or in their notes!
  • Please do not make public accusations of any username in public chat in Live Chess (while observing a game or playing a game)!
  • Any of the above described public accusations / actions against a member will likely lead to the closure of YOUR account, and regardless of what is found against the accused.
How does Chess.com detect foul play?
  • Part of our analysis involves comparing human moves to computer moves and looking at the statistical significance of said moves. 
  • To remain effective, other aspects of our detection methods are confidential.

How often does Chess.com catch Fair Play abusers?
  • We work hard to keep Chess.com a safe and positive community for chess players around the world, and are sad whenever any account is closed. That said, the process of investigating the fair play of our members is a never ending one!
  • Chess.com employs two full time salary employees dedicated to the research, prevention, and ultimately, the closure of accounts found to have accessed illegal assistance during their chess games. Our team is constantly going through the games of our top players, submitting those games into our "Fair Play Detection System", and evaluating clean play vs non-clean play.
  • We close many accounts each week (including those of premium members).

What happens to a player who is found to have violated the rules of Fair Play on Chess.com?
  • We close their account immediately; all games in progress are awarded to their opponents.
  • We do not and cannot "restore" other users' ratings to what they would be in an alternate dimension where the Fair Play abuser never existed! Don't worry - just keep playing! You'll get better for it!).
  • In many "first time abuser" cases, we offer a chance for admission and apology. If this is given, we will sometimes allow the opening of a new account; however, never is a user convicted of Fair Play abuse allowed to open the same account again.

What should I do if my opponent accuses me of Fair Play violations?
  • Assuming that you are NOT actually breaking the rules, our advice is to simply disable chat and continue your game. 
  • Your opponent may be frustrated, bewildered by your superior skills, or just trying to rattle you!
  • If persistent false accusations occur, you can report this member for abuse here.
  • If you want, you can also add the accuser to your blocked-player list so they cannot contact you again.

If I reported someone for Fair Play abuse why hasn't their account been closed?
  • We appreciate you reporting your suspicions, but ultimately Chess.com will decide and bear all responsibilities of our members and their play on our site. If we have not closed their account then the evidence is not conclusive.

You closed the account of someone I know - I'm sure they were innocent of abuse!
  • Sorry that you are upset. Unfortunately, people do make mistakes - sometimes even really nice people. Again, we only close accounts when we are absolutely certain of our findings and have gathered enough statistics that we would stand by under public scrutiny and a court of law.
  • No accounts are ever closed "on suspicion".

Can someone appeal if their account is closed?
  • We are happy to listen to your appeal! Please fill on our here.
  • However, we ask you to remember that Chess.com is a private company, it maintains the right to close the accounts of anyone we deem to have broken site rules, acted unfairly to other members or behaved in a way that hurt the site experience for other members.
  • Further, it should be clear by all logical, reasonable accounts (as well as by all smart business practices) that we would never have any reason to close the account of a user if we were not SURE, beyond all reasonable doubt, that they had broken rules.

What does Chess.com think about Fair Play abuse?
  • Using unfair advantages against someone who thinks you are playing fairly is a terrible act.
  • Our policies are clear & strict; they are also faithfully enforced.
  • We feel we are extremely effective in identifying and dealing with all Fair Play abusers.


Note also that, to keep our regular forums free of a subject that tends to cause unnecessary anxiety, we have created a special group forum for discussions of cheating in online chess.  Please restrict your comments on the subject to that group forum. Thank you! 

keywords: cheat, cheating, cheaters, engines, chess engines, outside assistance, computer assistance

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