World chess champion Magnus Carlsen made a statement outspoken on Monday that he believes his opponent, Hans Niemann, cheated during tournament play. He did not provide any solid evidence to support his claims. This is Carlsen’s first formal statement on the ongoing chess scandal, and the first to include an explicit allegation. There has been a furore in online conversations about this scandal for weeks.
“I believe that Niemann has cheated more — and more recently — than publicly acknowledged,” the statement said. Carlsen explained his reasoning, saying: “His board progress has been unusual, and throughout our games in the Sinckfield Cup I had the impression that he was not stressed or even fully on the game in critical positions. Wasn’t concentrating while getting me out. In a way as a black I think only a handful of players can do that. This game contributed to change my perspective.
This chess play began earlier this month, and has only continued to snowball in recent times. It all started when a much lower-ranked competitor, Niemann, defeated Carlsen in a match during the 2022 Sinckfield Cup in St. Louis. Then, on 19 September, Carlsen lost a game against Niemann after just one move, this time during Round 6 of the Julius Baer Generation Cup. Social media platforms were later lit up with conversations, as fans of chess – and even people outside the game’s general audience – debated the significance of these events.
“I believe that cheating in chess is a big deal and a potential threat to the game,” reads Carlsen’s statement. “I also believe that chess organizers and all those who care about the sanctity of the game should seriously consider enhancing security measures and fraud detection methods for board chess. ” (Checking is notoriously difficult to detect in high-level chess games. AI software is powerful enough to guide even inexperienced players to advantageous moves, while allowing experienced players to play with only a small handful of inflection points in a game.) There may be a need to resort to such equipment during
Carlson does not provide evidence of Nieman’s fraud, nor does he state whether he had any fraud. (Neiman had not previously been caught cheating in an over-the-board match. However, on September 8, Chess.com banned Neiman from the stage, and Share your reasoning on Twitter.) Carlson closed the statement by saying that he “is limited in what I can tell to speak openly without the express permission of Neiman.”
Hans has reached out to Niemann for comment.