The genteel world of chess has been rocked by accusations of cheating made by the game’s leading player.
Magnus Carlsen, the world champion and a player widely considered one of the greatest ever, posted a statement on Twitter in which he said he believed 19-year-old American opponent Hans Niemann “has cheated more — and more recently — than he has publicly admitted.”
Carlsen lost to Niemann two weeks ago at the over-the-board Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, after which Carlsen withdrew from the tournament.
The Norwegian then quit a game against Niemann at the online Julius Baer Generation Cup last week after making just one move.
Niemann not tense enough, Carlsen says
“His over-the-board progress has been unusual,” Carlsen wrote about Niemann in his Twitter post late Monday, “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 offered no evidence of Niemann cheating.
“There is more that I would like to say,” Carlsen wrote. “Unfortunately, at this time I am limited in what I can say without explicit permission from Niemann to speak openly.”
Carlsen added he is “not willing to play chess with Niemann.”
Niemann has previously admitted to cheating when playing online chess when he was 12 and 16, but has denied ever cheating over the board.
International Chess Federation has ‘deep concerns’
“We must do something about cheating,” Carlsen said, “and for my part going forward, I don’t want to play against people that have cheated repeatedly in the past, because I don’t know what they are capable of doing in the future.”
In a statement published on Friday — three days before Carlsen’s accusations — the president of the International Chess Federation, Arkady Dvorkovich, said the governing body shared Carlsen’s “deep concerns about the damage that cheating brings to chess” and is prepared to investigate incidents “when the adequate initial proof is provided.”
Speaking about Carlsen’s conduct in leaving a game after one move, Dvorkovich added: “We strongly believe that the world champion has a moral responsibility attached to his status, since he is viewed as a global ambassador of the game.
“His actions impact the reputation of his colleagues, sportive results, and eventually can be damaging to our game. We strongly believe that there were better ways to handle this situation.”
Niemann has not publicly responded to Carlsen’s accusations.