‘The biggest chess scandal in history’: Inside the cheating allegations that rocked the chess world

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should have been simple Magnus Carlsenor at least as simple as the top layer chess You can play games. When the chess world champion sat across from 19-year-old American Hans his Niemann in his cup earlier this month at Sinkfield, he had the advantage of playing with white pieces and was on a 53-game unbeaten streak. I was fighting someone. A person who enters a tournament as the lowest rated player.

Few expected the upset, but that’s exactly what happened.

Carlsen’s loss to Niemann in that match was unusual, but the match that followed was even more so. The next day, the world’s number one chess star withdrew from the tournament without explanation. Only short statements and memes posted on Twitter.

“I withdrew from the tournament. @STL Chess Cluband hope to come back in the future,” he tweeted, accompanied by a video clip of Jose Mourinho, adding, “I really don’t want to talk. .”

Although Carlsen himself didn’t say it outright, his decline and cryptic video were interpreted as a veiled accusation of wrongdoing against Niemann.

Niemann vehemently denied the accusations against him, but since then, the world of chess, a unique ecosystem of players and teachers, YouTubers, streamers and fans, has been consumed by drama.

“Basically, Magnus Carlsen seems to think something is wrong with Hans Niemann,” said Levy Rozman, international master and host of the popular chess-based YouTube channel. said to videoHe described it as “probably the greatest chess scandal in history”.

Chess cheating is as old as the game itself. But the rise of online play, coupled with the invention of artificial intelligence-powered chess engines that can compute millions of possible moves in seconds, has led to an explosion of cheating in recent years., the Internet’s most popular chess platform, calls cheating “the little-known dirty act of chess” that “plagues online chess websites.” .Site says it’s paused around 500 accounts per day for cheating.

So how did Niemann, who played Carlsen in person, get tricked? This is where things get weird. A theory handed down from the depths of Reddit that suggests Neiman used her vibrating anal beads to receive movement commands from an outside helper appears to be a serious possibility, according to Grandmaster Eric Hansen. was discussed. in a live stream. another hypothesis Suggested Niemann may be using a ‘small laser’ [sic] contact address. “

Niemann has its own theory, in a post-match interview “I was depressed to lose to an idiot like me,” Carlsen said. “It must be embarrassing for a world champion to lose to me. I feel sorry for him.”

What followed was akin to a true crime drama: Niemann’s history was scrutinized online, his past games studied for anomalies and patterns.

Mr. Hikaru Nakamura, a chess grandmaster and a popular chess YouTuber who ranked second in the world, restarted the game Between Carlsen and Niemann, I looked for moves that didn’t make sense. In other words, he looked for movements that could only have been caused by artificial intelligence.

FIDE’s Greg Keener Arbitrator Assistant Manager of the Marshall Chess Club new york timesNeiman’s Elo rating, based on player records, has risen by more than 500 points since January 2021, describing it as “an increase so rapid that many people don’t believe it’s possible.”

In other words, Niemann’s meteor rise was the underlying reason for many people’s suspicions.

The scandal came when it was revealed that Niemann admitted to cheating in an online game when he was younger in an interview he gave to explain his bout with Carlsen and defend himself against accusations. It deepened only to

“I cheated on a random game on I faced I confess And this is the biggest mistake of my life. And I’m totally embarrassed. I am speaking to the world because I do not wish to be misrepresented or rumored. I have never cheated on a board game. Except when I was 12, I never cheated in a tournament with prize money,” he said. Interview with the St. Louis Chess Club.

“To put the situation into perspective, I was 16 and living alone in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic, and I was going to do anything to grow my stream. I want people to know about this.” I deeply, deeply apologize for my mistake.I knew there were consequences to my actions and I suffered the consequences.”

Niemann went on to say that he would play naked to prove himself innocent to accusations of wearing devices on his body.

“If they want me completely naked, I do. I don’t care. Because I know I’m clean. A sealed box with no electronic transmission.” “I don’t mind if they ask me to let them play inside. I’m here to win and that’s my goal.”

Neimann could not be reached for comment Independent.

Two days after that interview, said in a statement that it had banned Neimann from the site without notice. Learn more.

Yet the drama continued. Neimann and Carlsen met in another game, this time online, in a tournament called the Generation Cup. After one move, Carlsen resigned from the game, turned off his webcam.

“I think this is a bigger statement than a tweet,” he said. commentator.

The rage threatened to derail a young chess grandmaster’s career before it really took off. However, no one has yet been able to provide concrete evidence of his wrongdoing.

After days of speculation, Chris Byrd, the lead arbitrator for the Sinkfield Cup where the scandal began, said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

“In response to recent rumors circulating in the chess world, there are currently no indications that any player has played rigged in the 2022 Sinkfield Cup,” Byrd said in a statement. Reuters.

of new york times report That he was invited to the next tournament at the club.



Keener times, He also pointed to comments from Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian, who played in the same tournament and defended Niemann in the postgame. interview.

“Well, I think it often happens when young players play very well. There are all these accusations against them. All my colleagues are pretty paranoid,” he said in an interview.

There was a more in-depth analysis by Professor Ken Regan, described as “the world’s foremost expert on cheat detection in chess” by ChessBase, who analyzed every Niemann game online and offline over the past two years.

“Niemann played well, but not very well,” he said. in his verdictwhich concluded that he had not cheated.

That could have been the end of the dispute.However, Carlsen also jumped on the topic this week in an interview.

When asked why he declined the final match against Niemann, Carlsen said, “Unfortunately, I can’t speak specifically to that.” They certainly do.

He then hinted that he might not be able to remain mysterious any longer.

“I’d love to talk to you some more after the tournament,” he said.

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