World chess champion Magnus Carlsen resigns after just one move in an online tournament. The background is a dispute with opponent Hans Niemann, who has to defend himself against allegations of fraud.
Next scandal between chess world champion Magnus Carlsen and the talented teenager Hans Niemann: The online game on Monday (September 19, 2022) between the two chess professionals as part of the “Julius Baer Generation Cup” lasted only a few seconds. Carlsen gave up after just one move and left the video chat. The chess scene is seething.
Already at the beginning of September there was a scandal between the two opponents. After an unexpected defeat against the American Niemann, Carlsen surprisingly pulled out of the “Sinquefield Cup“-football tournament in St. Louis, but did not publicly comment on his motives. On Twitter he only posted an old interview with soccer star coach José Mourinho, who said: “I prefer not to say anything. If I say something, I’ll get in big trouble, and I don’t want to get in big trouble.“
Streamer Nakamura fuels speculation
In the chess scene, Carlsen’s exit was interpreted as allegations of fraud against Niemann. The speculation was fueled, among other things by the American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who reaches an audience of millions with his online streams.
The 19-year-old Niemann was still playing during the “Sinquefield Cup” in St. Louis an emotional interview, in which he admitted and regretted cheating in online games on two occasions as a young teenager, but never in person at the chessboard. It is unclear whether the talented US professional only cheated twice in online games. As part of the allegations at the “Sinquefield Cup”, the largest chess platform in the world, Chess.com, his account as there was evidence to support the allegations. The operators of the platform have not yet gone into more detail.
Referees examine the allegations
In fact, investigations by the St. Louis umpires found no evidence of unsportsmanlike conduct in the frame of the 2022 tournament, as confirmed in an official statement – not even by Niemann. All players were frisked daily before entering the competition venue and checked for unauthorized electronic devices. After Carlsen’s exit, the security measures were increased again and, for example, a 15-minute delay in the live stream signal was decided.
Carlsen’s immediate resignation from the “Generation Cup” draws criticism from the chess scene. The Hungarian grandmaster Peter Leko showed himself “speechless“. Maurice Ashley, US chess player, tweeted: “This is shocking and disturbing. Nobody can be happy that this is happening in the chess world. Unbelievable!“
“Witch Hunt” against Niemann
From the point of view of International Champion Jovanka Houska, who commented on the tournament, Carlsen “poured more fuel on the fire” and spoke of a “witch hunt” against Niemann, in which there would be no evidence of cheating. In fact, the scandal left its mark on the talented US teenager. After Carlsen’s exit, his sporting form pointed downwards at the “Sinquefield Cup”.
But Carlsen’s reputation was also damaged by the affair. The highest-ranked chess player in history seems to be in a crisis of meaning. Since he no longer sees a sporting challenge in defending his World Championship title again, the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi and Chinese Ding Liren will fight for the World Championship crown in a direct duel next year.