Carlsen causes the next scandal against Niemann

Magnus Carlsen resigns against Hans Moke Niemann after just one move and then remains silent for days. Now the 31-year-old Carlsen can be heard from – without presenting evidence.

First causes a stir and then remains silent: the world chess champion Magnus Carlsen.


World chess champion Magnus Carlsen only made one move. Then he resigned in the sixth round of the Generation Cup; even before it had really begun. It was an affront with an announcement – although in this case the lack of an announcement was particularly striking. This scandal broke out on Monday last week (September 19).

Carlsen’s opponent was not a nobody in the scene, but Hans Moke Niemann, a 19-year-old American with Danish-Hawaiian roots, who surprisingly took a point from world champion Carlsen three weeks ago at the top tournament in St. Louis.

Almost exactly 24 hours after that memorable game, the 31-year-old Carlsen was to cause a storm of excitement.

Measures against fraud are strengthened

The facts can be told quickly: On September 4th, in the third round of the Sinquefield Cup, world champion Magnus Carlsen played with Weiss against Niemann, the world’s number 48, currently the greatest young talent in the USA. In the opening, the Norwegian Carlsen chose a rare secondary line, for which his opponent was well prepared. Niemann solved the opening problems convincingly and got the slightly better position. In a long final, in which neither side played flawlessly, he defeated the world champion.

The next day, Carlsen abruptly withdrew from the tournament – an almost unprecedented occurrence at this level. He did not give an official reason for his withdrawal, only a cryptic tweet in which he quoted the football coach José Mourinho (“If I say something, I’m in big trouble”).

It was initially Carlsen’s only statement on the matter. No reason was given by the tournament organizers either, at the same time anti-cheating measures were increased in St. Louis. Players were screened for illicit electronic devices even more intensively and games were no longer broadcast live but were broadcast with a 15-minute delay, eliminating opportunities for online fraud.

“Progress in on-site games is unusual”

On Monday evening, Carlsen made a detailed statement in a written statement about his withdrawal from the duel with Niemann and his departure from the Candidates Tournament in St. Louis. Carlsen wrote: “I believe he has cheated more times than he has publicly admitted.”

Niemann’s progress in on-site games is unusual, Carlsen continued. “During our game at the Sinquefield Cup, I got the impression that he wasn’t fully focused and focused on the game at the crucial moments, while he was superior to me with the black in a way that I only know from a small group of people. »

Already after Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup at the beginning of September, a shitstorm erupted about Niemann. He had just broken the mark of 2700 Elo points and taught the world champion one of the rare defeats, but nobody was talking about that. Everything revolved around the allegations of fraud, hardly anyone wanted to believe Niemann’s protestations of innocence. Under enormous pressure, he finished the tournament respectably with two wins, two losses and five draws.

The tournament organizers in St. Louis only released a dry official statement that there was no indication that anything illegal had happened. The World Chess Federation also said little. Only Ken Regan, a luminary in the field of statistical fraud detection, reported that he found nothing suspicious in the game of Niemanns.

Carlsen also presented no clear evidence of Niemann’s fraud. He is currently not allowed to say more precisely, even if he would like to go into more detail about the cause, he wrote. But he hopes that the truth will come out. «We have to do something about cheating in chess. I will contribute by not playing against players who have cheated in the past.”

Banned twice for cheating at online chess

In recent weeks, more and more self-appointed experts have made themselves heard. They provided and still provide – sometimes with a great deal of chess understanding – analyzes and proofs that are often very profound, but almost always statistically worthless. The wildest rumors soon made the rounds about how Niemann is said to have cheated.

The fact that the presumption of innocence is thrown overboard so quickly, although there is no clear evidence at the moment, also has something to do with the two protagonists. On the one hand, Niemann has a dubious reputation. He recently made a seemingly fantastic leap in performance, which inevitably drew envy and doubters onto the scene. On top of that, Niemann had to admit that he had been banned twice in the past for cheating at online chess. However, it is not clear whether he has admitted the full extent of this wrongdoing.

Although online and live chess are two different things, and cheating in the latter requires far more criminal energy, this history obviously damages credibility. And the fact that Niemann is a loner who sometimes exudes an uncomfortable arrogance in interviews doesn’t help his cause either.

Hardly anyone believed Hans Moke Niemann’s protestations of innocence.


Electronic cheating is serious business in chess

On the other side is Carlsen. A fair gamer with a massive following and little suspected of conspiracy theories. When the highest-ranked player in history takes such drastic action, there must be something to it, many say. It seems inconceivable that he could make such serious allegations out of anger at the defeat and some vague suspicions.

Electronic cheating is serious business in chess. The danger of destroying the sport through unfounded suspicions is just as great. It’s a fine line for all parties, and it would be premature to break the baton over one or the other today.

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