How To Be A Stinkin’ Chess Cheat — Sockfish

[James Stanley] enjoys chess, isn’t terribly good at it, and has some dubious scruples. At least, that’s the setup for building Sockfish, a shoe-to-Pi interface to let you cheat at chess. We’re pretty sure only the first point is true, but the build is impressive all the same. It’s a pair of 3D printed shoe inserts, with two pressure-sensitive inputs on each insert, coupled with a vibration motor in each. Tap out your opponent’s moves during the game, and the Stockfish software will buzz instructions back to you. Just follow the instructions, and you too can be a chess master.

In practice things went a bit awry, as poking in encoded move data with one’s feet isn’t the easiest task, and discerning the subtle tickles on the toes is error-prone at best. [James] arranged a match against an unsuspecting friend (in the name of science), and managed to fat-finger (fat-toe?) the inputs on both games, leading to Sockfish instructing him to make illegal moves.

This seemed like too much cheating, even for [James], so he played the rest of each game on his own abilities, winning one of the two. Once the deed was done, our anti-hero gladly doffed his shoes to show off his gadgetry. After some debate, they concluded the device might “bring the game into disrepute” if used for greater evil. Naturally [James] is already working on an improved version.

Thanks to [Abe Tusk] for the tip!

18 thoughts on “How To Be A Stinkin’ Chess Cheat — Sockfish

  1. I remember hearing of gamblers using something similar (but more primitive) in Vegas years ago, and when he got caught it did not go well for him. Good thing the Mafia isn’t involved in chess.

    1. I believe it was for “counting cards” at blackjack. Counting cards is in no way illegal. But casinos, being private companies can and absolutely will throw you right the F out for even trying to count cards if they want.

      1. The various laws usually end up on the principle of it’s okay your own skills, with no outside aid of technology. Until the casino avails itself of the right limit your wager size, deny you the ability to play certain games, or outright ban you from their private premises. Shady, but legal.

      2. Counting cards using an electronic or physical device (even an abacus) is ABSOLUTELY illegal. Counting with a partner is also illegal most places. Counting in your head, alone, is VERY challenging but not illegal because it would be hought crime.

  2. Although this contraption is rudimentary, it shows how it’s possible to cheat. Imagine something better engineered, smaller, with networking capabilities. Very possible to create something stealthy and usable.

    1. The recent chess cheating allegations fiasco has really opened my eyes to how conspiracy theories spread. With no evidence to support any cheating occurred in that game, and no direct accusation from the person who appears to be suggesting it did, the story spread like wildfire with many people expressing certainty on the topic despite “the proof” not being proof at all, and there being nothing suspicious about the moves or behavior of the accused player during the game itself. …and then came the anal beads. That idea was entirely made up as a joke by GM Eric Hansen during a Twitch stream, but because Elon Musk saw a clip of it and Tweeted, there are now a hundred articles online suggesting it may have happened. This is now the state of the world. Whatever one wants to believe happened…that’s what happened. There is no objective reality anymore.

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