Did the chess player who beat Magnus Carlsen cheat?  - The post

Did the chess player who beat Magnus Carlsen cheat? – The post

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In the world of chess there is a lot of discussion about a game that was held on Monday in a major tournament, the Sinquefield Cup, which takes place every year in St. Louis, Missouri. The game in question is that between the American Hans Niemann, a 19-year-old chess player in rapid rise, who has entered the top 100 of the world ranking a few months ago, and the Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen, considered one of the best of all time. .

Carlsen, who is 31 years old and has been world champion continuously since 2013, has lost in a clear and decidedly unexpected way, interrupting an unbeaten streak that has lasted for 53 consecutive games. Shortly thereafter he withdrew from the tournament in a rather controversial way, which fueled speculation that his opponent may have cheated to win the match: he communicated it. in a tweet without explicit comments, but in which he shared an old interview with football manager José Mourinho that says “if I talk, I end up in big trouble. Big, big trouble. “

The tournament is not a single elimination, but provides a group with several matches between all the participants, so Carlsen was able to retire. However, it is very unusual for it to happen in a tournament of this level, if not for health reasons: the specialized site Chess.com he called it “practically unprecedented” in this kind of competition (there is a precedent, but it happened in a very different situation) and it is also the first time for Carlsen.

Several chess players and insiders have more or less explicitly said they believe Niemann may have cheated, although no one has talked about how he could have done so. Others, on the other hand, argued that at these levels it is not possible to cheat and that the controversy arose simply because of the exceptional nature of Niemann’s victory.

The first to speculate that Carlsen retired because he suspects his opponent has cheated was the American chess player Hikaru Nakamura, among the best in the world in so-called “blitz games”, who seemed willing to believe this version, saying that Carlsen he would never have retired without good reason: “He wouldn’t do that if he didn’t firmly believe Hans is cheating,” he said, while reiterating that “there’s no evidence, no one knows what the truth is.”

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Shortly after Carlsen’s retirement, also on Monday, the tournament organizers they announced the introduction of additional “anti-cheating” precautions, including a 15-minute delay in broadcasting the match and an increase in radio frequency controls, to track down any prompters. There were no official comments, however, on the reasons why the rules were introduced, nor on the reasons for Carlsen’s withdrawal.

Nakamura also pointed out that Niemann was in the past found cheating in online chess on Chess.com – which in addition to being a site that shares news and information on chess is also a forum frequented by professionals and the main platform for online gaming – and was then banned from the site. Nakamura spoke about it with extreme certainty, having himself extensive collaborations with the site, whose boss, however, refused to comment on the story.

Another American Grandmaster (the most important award for a chess player), Andrew Tang, seemed to endorse the possibility that there was a scam, saying that he “stopped talking to Hans about that Chess.com“.

Hans Niemann, for his part, had been rather bold immediately after the victory, and had commented: «It must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him! ». Then he explained that he managed to win a bit by chance, because that morning he had prepared to face a very unlikely opening by Carlsen, the Nimzo-Indian g3 (the one that Carlsen later used in the match), which according to Niemann had already been used by the Norwegian champion in a 2018 match in London against Filipino Wesley So.

Chess.com however, he wrote that that match never took place, that Carlsen never played that opening in a classic match, and that Niemann may have gotten confused with a blitz game played in 2019 in Calcutta, the only one in which Carlsen used that one. opening, according to site research.

Initially Niemann said he did not imagine the reason for Carlsen’s retirement, but he said he was happy that at least it happened after their game, because in this way he was able to beat him. Then he admitted a certain concern about this story, still without directly commenting on the cheating allegations, but saying he had drawn the next game, Monday night, because he couldn’t concentrate and think about anything else.

After two days of much speculation on social networks and discussion forums dedicated to chess, Niemann finally decided to officially defend himself from the allegations in an interview with the Sinquefield Cup commentator: he admitted to having cheated in the past in online gaming, a once when he was 12 and another when he was 16 (3 years ago), but he said he never cheated in live play and in a tournament with a cash prize pool.

In the interview, Niemann appeared very emotionally affected by the allegations and said he had received “thousands of messages” of threats and attacks “without any evidence”. Then he underlined the disparity of the confrontation he is facing, given the weight of his accusers: “I will not let Chess.comMagnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, probably the three most important chess entities, defame my reputation ».

It is very difficult to prove chess cheating on the physical board, and in general it is difficult to cheat when playing live, as another Grandmaster, Jacob Aagaard, who was also Niemann’s coach, pointed out: cheated online at some point. But this is simply another thing ». Levon Aronian, another Grandmaster, said such a situation “often happens when young players play very well, there are always accusations against them.”

Israeli chess player Emil Sutovsky, who is director general of FIDE (the international chess federation), declined to comment on the reasons for Carlsen’s retirement after the game. He complimented Niemann on the win and then he pointed out that Carlsen had never retired from a tournament, however he was going, and that therefore “he will have a compelling reason, or at least he thinks he does,” adding that he expects at least a comment from the tournament director.

The day after Sutovsky he wrote that Niemann “was not convincing” in the analysis of the match (the one that is usually done in interviews), that is, that he did not explain well enough how he managed to win. However, he partially justified it, saying that it happens to several players to lose concentration after matches.


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