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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

‘Cheater’ vs challenger goes viral

Game between alleged cheater and IM Irene Sukandar was watched online by 1.25 mn simultaneously, a record.

Written by Nihal Koshie | New Delhi |
Updated: April 4, 2021 9:36:41 pm
International Master (IM) Irene Sukandar (Instagram/IreneSukandar)

A fortnight ago, a chess game between an amateur and International Master (IM) Irene Sukandar streamed from Indonesia on YouTube was watched simultaneously by 1.25 million people.

A fortnight ago, a chess game between an amateur and International Master (IM) Irene Sukandar streamed from Indonesia on YouTube was watched simultaneously by 1.25 million people.

It set a record for a live broadcast of a game, the numbers were tweeted by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

The unprecedented interest was down to viewers’ keenness to see if little-known fast climber Dadang Subur was as good in over-the-board games as he was in online chess, where cheating using chess engines on the sly is commonplace. Subur lost 0-3 to put an end to one of the ugliest controversies in the sport.

It began when Subur was accused of cheating by well-known chess streamer, International Master Levy Rozman. Subdur, without a tournament ranking, had sensationally beaten IM Rozman while playing online on March 2. Rozman, the host of popular channel GothamChess with 787K subscribers on YouTube, had raised a red flag during the game.

International Master Levy Rozman. (File)

Rozman reported Dewa Kipas, Subur’s online account, to Dewa Kipas was blacklisted for breaking’s Fair Play Policy. The backlash was strong. Rozman started receiving death threats and hate messages on social media after a Facebook post by Subur’s son, defending his father, went viral.

After Sudur’s loss to Sukandar on March 22, the tone of the messages to Rozman has changed from hateful to supportive.

“At the end of the drama, 90-95 per cent of the attackers turned positive. I have received massive support on YouTube now. People are trying to make it up to me by helping me to get 1 million subscribers. Many Indians reached out to Lucy (girlfriend) and me and supported us,” Rozman told The Sunday Express.

The 25-year-old from New York City had to opt for ‘private-mode’ on social media, turn off most notifications and had his Instagram comments ‘off’. When netizens, a huge number from Indonesia, launched personal attacks he didn’t make a YouTube video for four-five days.

What made Rozman suspicious of Subur was the high rating but no titles. “Even before I made a move all my alerts went off. The account was about one month old, had won about 75-80 per cent of games, had a blitz rating of 1,100 and gained 900 points in two weeks!” Subur was taking 10 seconds for most moves, even obvious ones, which indicated he was waiting for a prompt from the chess engine. The dust has settled and Rozman sees the silver lining in the controversial episode.

Making money

“People made money. Irene Sukandar got nearly $14,000. Subur, even though one can argue that it’s unethical or undeserved, received $7,000. Debby Corbuzier (the actor who organised the match) got like 15 million views. Chess products are apparently selling out in Indonesia right now,” Rozman said.

A chess match. (File)

He was taken aback by the death threats and hate comments which followed once blocked Dewa Kipas. The mental trauma apart; he also feared about the immediate future of GothamChess.

“Receiving hate is part of the growing online personality. The issue was mostly in finding a way to get the truth out, while not receiving permanent damage to my brand. I published 45 videos in February 2021 alone and I was watching it get brigaded and torn apart, which was a bit upsetting. Some of the people writing hateful messages had public Instagram profiles. They were husbands, fathers, religious men, writing they would kill me or Lucy. (It) was such a weird dichotomy,” Rozman said.

Influential names in the chess world have analysed Subur’s loss to Sukandar which has helped in changing opinions. Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, a respected voice, concluded that Subur was caught out, although he was definitely not a beginner.

“It is pretty clear cut in terms of what we know happened during the Levy game. There was something which was not right about the game… You don’t go from playing that game against Levy to playing like this… I think made the right decision. You see the blunders in this match (against Irene), there were no such blunders when he played online versus his over-the-board games,” Nakamura said in an online video.

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