January 9, 2011

Malaysia throwing a game at the Olympiad?

Someone told me that recently, Raymond Siew posted something on his blog. This post does not address the main subject of the post (because frankly I'm not really sure on what it's about, especially since the content doesn't seem to relate much to the title. Yet, there are parts of his post that I have to agree with. Whatever. I'm not interested in those parts.). What I'm addressing is his scorching accusation of "[A player] throwing a game [in the Olympiad]". While I don't think it's good policy to attack a not-so-relevant minor detail of someone's "comment", those 3 words carry serious weight with them, especially in the context of the Olympiad while representing Malaysia. There is a huge difference between attacking a player for losing a game by accident, and losing on purpose. Sadly, he did not specify whether his accusation was onto a single player, or the whole team, so I'm not sure on how to carry out my attack.

Now of course, the most obvious argument is the lack of evidence. But I'm not writing this just to point that out. Anybody with a brain larger than a peanut knows that. Besides, most thrown games are hard to prove, since even grandmasters can blunder their queens or mate in 1 move(think Deep Fritz-Kramnik in 2006). Unless you do something so stupid, like replay a very nice-looking game from your database.

So let's give Raymond Siew that, and allow such an accusation without proof. Now, ask yourself this incredibly simple question:


Raymond, you have defied mankind's understanding of the human brain by converting whatever that's left of the "reasoning" part of your brain into "talk more about a game that I can barely play" brain matter. Either that or you just lost the ability to think logically.

Let me break it down for you: There are 2 types of countries relative to Malaysia: stronger and weaker/roughly equal in terms of strength.

The stronger countries don't need to fix games with Malaysia. Unless they suddenly happen to be losing, and by then it's not really possible to fix a deal(perhaps you imagined the players saying "$300 for a draw!" and pressing their clocks, and their opponents replying with "$225 and its a deal!" and pressing their clocks.).

Then there's the other two. What do these countries want to fix games with Malaysia for? There's too much to lose for something that has little value. Ranking in the Olympiad gauges where a country stands, and nothing else(unless that ranking is has a medal attached to it). Why would a team pay off another to improve their ranking from, say, 120 to 80? It's false progress if it wasn't earned, and they'd be bluffing themselves.

Now you also need to consider the fact that if a weak team wants to pay off an opponent, they're just going to get knocked off the next round, and their final ranking won't change much if they carried out the deed with more than 1 or 2 rounds to go, unless they managed to continuously bribe their opponents. So maybe they can just buy the last round match? Well, Malaysia won that round.

Perhaps it was just 2 individuals conspiring for a gain in rating? Again, there are better places to do such things. Such as individual tournaments, where the consequences of getting caught are not as serious, and there is actually a chance of winning.

So there's 2 possibilities to a lost game in the Olympiad; perhaps it was a completely fixed game, choreographed so that a game gets thrown after 2 hours of pretend-hard-thinking, so that the opposing team can advance, only to lose the next round to an opponent who will most likely not accept a bribe. And they do this in the Olympiad because most people don't think anyone dares to fix a game, so they make a bluff and do it anyway, because they want to improve their final ranking, or maybe they just want to let the world know that they beat a Malaysian player. The second possibility is that our player just blundered.

Occam's Razor: It could be the first, but isn't it much easier for it to be the second?

If anyone bothered to read Raymond's blog entries and my comments on them, you might remember that my last post was my vow to never visit his blog again. I had a good reason for that: this post. I've wasted my time writing a long article to debunk an incredibly stupid idea from our friend here.