CHESS WORLD champ Magnus Carlsen has issued a definitive statement on his opponent, grandmaster Hans Niemann, after a month of controversy between the two.
“I believe that Niemann has cheated more — and more recently — than he has publicly admitted,” said Carlsen, currently ranked number one in the world by FIDE. “His over the board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do.”
Explaining the Magnus Carlsen vs. Hans Niemann controversy
The statement follows a contentious month between the two. In September 4, the 19-year-old American, a relative unknown playing as black against the five-time world champ, triumphed over the Norwegian in a shock win at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri.
His 53-game win streak in classical chess broken, Carlsen’s defeat kickstarted a chain of events that rocked the chess world.
The world number one abruptly withdrew from the tournament, and in a tweet, reposted a video of football manager José Mourinho’s quote: “If I speak, I am in big trouble.”
While Carlsen would clam up about his reasons, chess streamer and grandmaster Hikaru “GMHikaru” Nakamura would fan speculation that Carlsen suspected Niemann of cheating. GMHikaru also revealed that Chess.com had once banned Niemann for cheating — an incident that the American has owned up to.
However, in an interview, he denied all present speculation. “I have never cheated in an over-the-board game,” Niemann said in an interview with the Saint Louis Chess Club. He even added that he would play naked just to prove there were no devices or chess programs on him.
Online controversy about Niemann reached the point that one Reddit user theorized that Niemann might have used an “anal bead supercomputer” during his games, which would vibrate to send him signals. This hilarious, crackpot theory would later make headlines around the world.
Then, on September 19, Niemann and Carlsen met again — this time, in an online match at the Julius Baer Generation Cup. After making just one move (he was playing black), Carlsen resigned and disconnected from the match.
Carlsen says cheating is an 'existential threat' to chess
Carlsen’s statement, which he released on Twitter, goes at length about his thoughts on Niemann’s alleged cheating.
“I know that my actions have frustrated many in the chess community. I’m frustrated. I want to play chess. I want to continue to play at the highest level in the best events,” he wrote.
However, because of his belief that cheating posed “an existential threat” to chess, “I don’t want to play against people that have cheated repeatedly in the past, because I don’t know what they are capable of doing in the future.”
Carlsen once again hinted that he knew more than he was letting on.
“I am limited in what I can say without explicit permission from Niemann to speak openly,” he wrote.
“So far I have only been able to speak with my actions, and those actions have stated clearly that I am not willing to play chess with Niemann. I hope that the truth in this matter comes out, whatever it may be.”