I am fascinated by how widespread cheating is at the highest levels of our society, especially in the world of sports. Name me a champion or record breaker in any high-stakes sport, and I will name you a cheater, whether it be Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, or Sammy Sosa (baseball); Tom Brady and Bill Belichick (North American football); Lance Armstrong (cycling); Ben Johnson (Olympics), etc., etc. It now turns out that the world of chess is not immune from this sordid pattern. Check out, for example, this revealing report by Archie Bland for The Guardian. (Hat tip: The Amazing Tyler Cowen.) Here is an excerpt: “Chess.com, the world’s biggest site for online play, said it had seen 12 million new users this year, against 6.5 million last year. The cheating rate has jumped from between 5,000 and 6,000 players banned each month last year to a high of almost 17,000 in August.” But be that as it may, we still have to ask, What is the “optimal level” of cheating in any particular sport?
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