After almost a month anal gem memes and chess drama, world champion Magnus Carlsen has finally opened up about his stunning defeat to 19-year-old grandmaster Hans Niemann and his shocking stunts that followed. Long story short: He thinks Niemann is a cheat, across the board and online, and he refuses to ever compete against him again.
“I think Niemann has cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted,” Carlsen wrote in a statement published on Twitter. “His over-the-board progress has been exceptional and throughout our games in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he was not tense or even quite [concentrating] on the game in critical positions while playing out as black in a way that I think only a handful of players can do.”
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The drama started earlier this month when Carlsen lost to Niemann in an unusual match in their first ever meeting at the personal Sinquefield Cup. Niemann should have been outclassed, but instead Carlsen made some mistakes and the 19-year-old capitalized on them with astonishing precision. Rather than move on to his next opponent, Carlsen withdrew from the entire tournament after the defeat and tweeted a provocative YouTube clip that strongly suggested he believed foul play was involved.
The chess world spent the following week in heated debate and speculation about whether Niemann was in fact a cheat and, if so, how he could have accomplished it. On Twitch and Reddit, chess shitposters joked that Niemann might be using supercomputers inside anal beads to communicate the best moves to him via vibration. There was no evidence of that, but the outlandish meme captured everyone’s imagination in part because it reflected the fact that there was no evidence for Carlsen’s insinuation in the first place.
Fast forward to last week and Carlsen and Niemann met in an online match in the Julius Baer Generation Cup. The latter played only two moves before the chess master retired, leaving the announcers shocked and escalates the whole dispute to an even higher level. Niemann lost in the knockout stages before the two could meet again, while Carlsen ended up winning the tournament, but not before strongly suggesting once again that the 19-year-old was a cheater and should never have been allowed to participate in the first place.
Already now, however, Carlsen has stopped presenting any actual evidence for the claims. While Niemann admitted to cheating once when he was younger on Chess.com, the largest online chess site, which has since banned him, Carlsen is back to claiming that Niemann specifically cheated him in the Sinquefield Cup. He even goes so far as to blame the tournament organizers for not paying enough attention.
“I also believe that chess organizers and all those who care about the sanctity of the game we love should seriously consider increasing the security measures and methods of cheating detection for over-the-board chess,” he wrote. “When Niemann was invited at the last minute to the Sinquefield Cup 2022, I strongly considered withdrawing ahead of the event. I ultimately chose to play.”
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As The Guardian reports, the chess police tasked with identifying cheating uses a mix of tools, including computer programs that analyze player behavior and look for irregularities. Basically, if someone is playing also well, the software will flag it and the experts will investigate further. Computer scientist Ken Regan, who developed the program used by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), checked Carlsen’s now infamous loss to Niemann and found nothing.
Danny Rensch, a chess master and manager at Chess.com, said Guardian his platform has better anti-cheat models that are fine-tuned to each grandmaster’s player profile. “Once in a while, irregularities happen,” he said. “But if you have a lot of smoke, a lot of evidence, and a lot of reason to believe the DNA of who someone is, and you walk into the room and they just say, ‘I just lifted that refrigerator with a arm,’ you’re like, ‘Fucking bulShit, damn it.’” Is there a lot of smoke in the Niemann case? Rensch doesn’t say that. At least not yet.
Niemann has continued to deny the accusations, although he has yet to respond to Carlsen’s latest salvo. But the 19-year-old has broken at least one promise. When the drama first started, he promised to play his next match naked to prove he wasn’t hiding anything. To everyone’s relief, he didn’t make good on that threat.