Magnus Carlsen Accuses Hans Niemann Of Cheating, Refuses To Play Him
Carlsen, the highest-ranked classical chess player of all time and five-time world champion, will refuse to play Niemann in competitive play, putting tournament organizers and chess authorities in a difficult position.
The statement, which Carlsen posted on Twitter, was released after the completion of the Julius Baer Generation Cup, an online tournament which pitted established chess players against relative newcomers.
Carlsen dominated the event, winning 10 of his 15 preliminary matches before decisively defeating Levon Aronian, Vincent Keymer and Arjun Erigaisi in the championship bracket. Niemann performed well but ultimately lost to Le Quang Liem in the quarterfinals.
One of Carlsen’s few losses in the entire tournament came against Niemann via forfeit, as he refused to play the young American due to his suspicion that Niemann was cheating. Carlsen elaborated on this refusal in his statement.
“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 on this matter comes out, whatever it may be,” Carlsen stated.
My statement regarding the last few weeks. pic.twitter.com/KY34DbcjLo
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) September 26, 2022
Carlsen’s comments came after nearly a month of controversy which started with his game against Niemann in the Sinquefield Cup. In the high-profile tournament in St. Louis, Niemann defeated Carlsen with the black pieces in the third round of the tournament. It was a massive achievement for a 19-year-old player who only become a grandmaster in 2021. But the victory also led Carlsen to withdraw from the tournament, igniting the massive scandal.
While Carlsen refused to elaborate on his withdrawal for several weeks, speculation ran wild in the chess community. Niemann’s past transgressions in online chess slowly came to the surface. Though the American admitted to cheating in online tournaments when he was younger, he emphatically denied ever having cheated over the board.
In his recent statement, Carlsen finally clarified his feelings when he chose to withdraw from the Sinquefield Cup.
“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 concentrated on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do,” Carlsen said.
Chess.com, a popular online chess hosting site, also disputed Niemann’s claims, concluding that he cheated online far more than he originally admitted. Though there still isn’t any concrete evidence of Niemann cheating over the board, the investigation into his online play led the site to ban him from all future tournaments that it hosted.
Carlsen’s subsequent forfeit in the Generation Cup, the next meeting between the two players, sent even more shockwaves through the community, and it’s now clear that it may not be the last time it occurs. Carlsen will not play against Niemann, and future matchups between the two players may result in more forfeits.
Because of his status in the chess community as one of, if not the greatest, players of all time, Carlsen enjoys a massive amount of leverage over Niemann with tournament organizers. It’s practically impossible to host a high-level tournament without Carlsen’s presence, and if these hosts must choose between the five-time champion and a 19-year-old with a proven history of cheating, Niemann’s career could suffer as a result.
Only future tournaments can truly reveal the full impact of Carlsen’s actions.
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