In the year when everyone went online to play chess, and even went online to watch a TV show about chess, players developed a nasty new habit. They started cheating at chess online.
As newbies and grandmasters alike flocked to platforms like Chess.com and Lichess in 2020, administrators noticed a surge in suspicious activity unlike anything they had ever seen. So they turned to a group of nerds with expertise so obscure that there are only a handful of them on the planet: the chess narcs.
They are international masters, legal experts, and computer scientists—sometimes all three. Their job is to root out patterns that reveal the player across your virtual board might be reaching for outside assistance. They are the reason chess has been able to make the once unthinkable leap from an over-the-board game with waning popularity to wildly popular esport in a manner of months.