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Chess, Cheating, Psychology, Analogy

Posted By: Jeremy Bagai
Date: Tuesday, 17 June 2014, at 7:06 p.m.

Nice article: How To Catch A Chess Cheater: Ken Regan Finds Moves Out Of Mind.

Here's a passage I'd like to understand better:

“[Alan] Turing wanted to model human cognition with a computer, but I’m going in the opposite direction,” Regan says. “I want to use the computer to inform us about the human mind.” Regan’s data has reproduced a result in psychology first discovered by Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman and colleague Amos Tversky, which states that human perception of value is relative. “You’ll drive across town to save $4 on a $20 purchase, but you wouldn’t do it for a $2,000 purchase,” says Regan. His data shows that players make 60 percent to 90 percent more errors when half a pawn ahead or behind than when the game is even. Regan claims that this is an actual cognitive effect, not a result of high-risk/high-reward play, because it is observed with players who have both the advantage and disadvantage.
I understand the Kahneman example. People often mistakenly behave as though $x is of greater value when it is a higher percentage of some reference $y. So they are more likely to put effort into "saving" $x (driving across town) when $y is low.

Can someone explain how the chess example is in anyway related to this?
And (separate question) is it possible that even chess positions are objectively "easier to play" (more stable?) than positions with slight imbalances? Is the error data actually evidence of a cognitive bias?

(I liked the article -- not trashing it, just low-knowledge regarding chess.)

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