As the Tak Times has reported, Tak player Matthew Hinton was disqualified for cheating in the Intermediate Invitational Tournament. All for a pair of - admittedly really nice - Capstones. He was using a local version of TakticianBot to play his games, which is clearly not permitted.
Not long ago, though, he brought up the possibility of someone cheating in a tournament by using a bot. This sparked a discussion among many community members and mainly ended with people saying that cheating with a Playtak bot would be obvious. But if someone downloaded a local version of a bot, then that would be harder to catch.
On March 3, 2021, Hinton asked for help installing a local copy of TakticianBot - one of the most powerful bots created - from the developers on the Tak Talk Discord server. Since this was just before the tournament was slated to begin, it definitely made me suspicious of his motives. However, a few other players in the community have local versions of the bot, but I still felt a bit off about the whole thing.
After Hinton got TakticianBot working on his computer, I looked at some of his casual games on Playtak.com. I watched a live game against TilTakBot that had me shaking my head in dismay. It was very clear, for a number of reasons, that it was not a human player on the other end. I won’t go into the specifics so as to not give away the methods by which the fraudulent play was caught, but the initial evidence was enough for me to share my suspicions with the tournament director and we decided to sit and wait and see.
When it came time for his first tournament game, I was recording and commentating it for my very excellent YouTube channel with tons of tournament commentary, tips and tricks, and other Tak resources. I was suspicious of his play, but decided to remain quiet about it for my commentary and wait until I could further analyze the games after they had completed.
While editing the video of his first match, I compiled a good amount of evidence against him and shared it with the USTA Board. They did some additional analysis and confirmed there was no possible way that he had been playing his game. After analyzing three additional games, we had even more evidence that he was not playing his match, but that a bot was.
Having shared all the evidence with the USTA Board, my job was done. The Board disqualified Hinton from the tournament and according to the official statement, Hinton accepted the disqualification without any fuss.
What Does This Mean?
Hinton has been disqualified from the Intermediate Invitational Tournament and banned from all future USTA tournaments. He has also, as of writing this article, left the Discord server. But the most noticeable effect is that the community has taken a huge hit. We’ve been a pretty tight-knit and positive community since its inception, about 5 years ago. The USTA might start imposing new measures to enforce honest participation in tournaments, which could prove to be a barrier to entry for some and reduce the amount of competitors.
But let’s look at the positive. This is the only time we’ve seen cheating in the history of competitive Tak! Let’s keep it the only time.