chessgames.com: We're posting this to several different forums in the hopes that everyone sees it one sooner or later:
Ladies and Gentlemen, we wish to formally announce that the <Holiday Present Hunt will continue> until further notice.
While we understand that some solvers have been frustrated by the apparent difficulty of some clues, not to mention their speed of issuance, we ask everyone to please take note of the following:
(1) <Our loyalty is to the upstanding members of this community>, and we will always strive to put THEIR interests first.
(2) <We have detected a significant amount cheating in the 2018 Holiday Present Hunt>. We have gathered <irrefutable evidence> of this, the substance of which minimally proves a violation of the Contest Rules by documenting the use of automated processes to increase the likelihood of winning a prize. We reiterate the word <minimally>.
(3) <The cheating is isolated> to a small number of sources. No Chessgames member who has legitimately won a prize should feel any need to defend that fact.
(4) <Cheating is probably nothing new>. In the past, <Daniel> did the best he could to discourage such disgraceful behavior, but given the demands on his time, there were doubtless cases that "slipped through the cracks". We have a high degree of confidence regarding this assertion <because reasons> that we're currently declining to cite.
(5) <Admin has been expending inordinate time grappling with this issue>—time which takes away from other critical duties.
(6) <Any member who has broken the contest rules has an opportunity to be granted amnesty and have the matter handled privately—but only by coming clean> via sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org which includes a full confession. In all other cases, Admin reserves the right to go public with the evidence which proves the cheating. This amnesty period will end when the 2018 Hunt is formally complete, after 64 clues have been legitimately solved (within the best of our ability to determine). At our discretion, we may offer additional clues to offset the tainting of any clues for which "successful" cheating has been identified.
(7) <Clue difficulty has not been influenced by the cheating issue> at all. Having said that, at the onset of the 2018 Hunt, there <were> some initial claims that the clues were too easy. Just sayin'...
(8) <Send a detailed email if you have trouble accessing the site> and we'll be sure to address the issue. Please don't forget to <include your username>.
Let us be clear on the definition of cheating. On the Chessgames.com Holiday Present Hunt page, under the heading <OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES> it clearly states:
<11. The use of web spiders or other automated software systems designed to spider chessgames.com web pages for purposes of the Contest is strictly prohibited. Anybody discovered using such techniques to find the gift-graphics will be disqualified from the Contest and the prize(s) won will be returned to the pool. However, the use of public search engines (e.g. Google) is permitted and encouraged.>
Obviously, any Chessgames member (new or old) who has used such tactics—or exploited knowledge gained from them—and subsequently <claimed a prize> from the Present Hunt is a de facto cheater and has engaged in behavior which is both <petty and shameful>.
<Please bear with us> as the entire Chessgames.com Staff—both formal employees and tireless volunteers—dedicate ourselves to maintaining and improving this community and its features, and we promise that <your loyalty will be richly rewarded>.
Happy New Year to the entire Chessgames Family!
Chessgames.com Owners and Admin