New Delhi: Chess world champion Magnus Carlsen has called grandmaster Hans Niemann a cheater, in a statement issued to explain why the Norwegian withdrew from his recent games against the 19-year-old American.
Carlsen was very direct in the statement he posted on Twitter on 27 September: “I believe that Niemann has cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted.”
The Norwegian said Niemann’s “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”.
“This game contributed to changing my perspective,” Carlsen wrote.
My statement regarding the last few weeks. pic.twitter.com/KY34DbcjLo
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) September 26, 2022
At the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in September, Carlsen made the “unprecedented professional decision” to withdraw from the tournament after his third round game against Niemann.
A week later, during the Champions Chess Tour, he resigned after playing only one move.
In his statement, Carlsen also said: “I believe that cheating in chess is a big deal and an existential threat to the game.”
He urged chess organisers and all those who cared about the “sanctity of the game” to consider increasing security measures and enhance methods of “cheat detection” for over the board chess.
Carlsen also said that his actions have proved that he was unwilling to play chess with Niemann. “I hope that the truth on this matter comes out, whatever it may be,” the 31-year-old said.
Before he sat down to play Niemann in the Sinquefield Cup, Carlson had been unbeaten in 53 games of classical chess and had the advantage of playing white — thereby moving first, the BBC reported.
Niemann, the lowest ranked player in the tournament, seemed undaunted and cofidently nullified the advantages of the first move and slowly gained control over the game. Carlson then resigned after being out in a hopeless position.
Soon after the game, Carlson withdrew though six more rounds were left — an unprecedented decision in the top level of chess.
As fans tried to fathom his move, Carlson tweeted a video of football manager Jose Mourinho where he says: “if I speak I am in big trouble”.
Though no direct accusations were made then, the tweet was seen as an attempt to raise suspicions of cheating.
As the chess world continues to debate the fallout of the tweet, Niemann admitted to having cheated before — at ages 12 and 16 — with the help of computers, but denied he did it over the board which is considered a more serious offence.
He told his detractors he could play naked. “You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. I’m here to win and that is my goal regardless.”