Cheating Uproar Follows Carlsen's Stunning Tourney Withdrawal

Reigning champion provides few clues, but 19-year-old American denies wrongdoing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2022 2:26 PM CDT
Cheating Uproar Follows Carlsen's Stunning Tourney Withdrawal
Magnus Carlsen of Norway competes during the FIDE World Championship at Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.   (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Magnus Carlsen's loss to a newcomer was only the first surprise in the Sinquefield Cup competition in St. Louis. The world's top player withdrew from the tournament hours later without saying why, the Wall Street Journal reports, kicking off widespread suspicion that his opponent, Hans Moke Niemann, had cheated. That was the guess of the World's No. 6 player, though he pointed out that nothing has been proven. "I think Magnus believes that Hans probably is cheating," said Hikaru Nakamura. It was the first time that the reigning world champion had withdrawn from a tournament, per the Guardian.

The only clue provided by Carlsen was a tweet of a video in which a soccer manager complains about an outcome by saying, "If I speak, I am in big trouble." Chess officials and players thought that was clear enough. Niemann has a record: He was kicked out of an online competition for using a computer to analyze moves, and he has admitted to cheating in online matches. But the 19-year-old American said his play in in-person, sit-down chess remains untainted. "I have never cheated in an over-the-board game," he said, per the Daily Beast. Niemann spoke more forcefully after playing to a draw in a later round. "I'm not going to let, I'm not going to let Magnus Carlsen, I'm not going to let Hikaru Nakamura, the three arguably biggest entities in chess, simply slander my reputation," he said. Niemann has been barred from

The chess world is in an uproar. The director-general of its governing body pointed out that "no matter how his tournaments went," Carlsen never quit before. "He must have had a compelling reason, or at least he believes he has it," Emil Sutovsky tweeted. "Don't call him a sore loser or disrespectful." Speculation has centered around whether Carlsen thinks his pregame analysis was leaked, per the Guardian, possibly through a computer hack. It's also possible Niemann anticipated Carlsen's strategy by learning from a match he played in 2006. In the meantime, tournament security has been enhanced. Niemann was even frisked for electronic devices before his next match. (Carlson also has suggested he may quit the game entirely.)

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