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Inside the cheating scandal that rocked the chess world

Inside the cheating scandal that rocked the chess world

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IIt should have been as simple for Magnus Carlsen, or at least as simple as a first-class chess game. When the world chess champion sat across from 19-year-old American Hans Niemann at the Sinquefield Cup earlier this month, he capitalized on playing the white pieces, was in 53 straight games unbeaten, and was facing someone who entered the tournament as the player Lowest rated.

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


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Carlsen’s loss to Neiman in that match was extraordinary, but what followed was more than that. The next day, the world’s number one chess star withdrew from the tournament without explanation. Just a short statement posted on Twitter and meme.

“I withdrew from the tournament. I always enjoyed playing in Tweet embedI hope to come back in the future,” he wrote in a tweet accompanied by a video of Jose Mourinho, saying: “I’d rather not really talk. If you talk, I’m in big trouble.”

Carlsen did not say it himself explicitly, but his withdrawal and the encrypted video were interpreted as a disguised accusation of cheating against Neiman.

Neiman has vehemently denied the accusations, but the drama has consumed the chess world – which is its own ecosystem for players, educators, YouTubers and fans.

Levi Rosman, international professor and host of the popular chess-based YouTube channel, said: video. He called it “probably the biggest chess scandal in history”.

Chess cheating is as old as the game itself. But the rise of online play, along with the invention of AI-powered chess engines that can calculate millions of possible moves in seconds, has led to an explosion in cheating in recent years. Chess.com, the most popular online chess platform, describes cheating as “not the dirty secret of chess,” a system that has “plagued online chess sites.” The site says it’s suspended 500 accounts per day to cheat.

So, how was Neiman, who played Carlsen personally, supposed to have cheated? This is where things get weird. A theory has been discussed from the depths of Reddit, which suggested that Neimann used vibrating anal beads to receive transfer orders from an outside assistant, as if it was a dangerous possibility by great teacher Eric Hansen. In the live broadcast. else theory It was suggested that Niemann might use a “small laser” that “draws an ultraviolet line on the board visible only through [sic] Contacts.”

Nieman had his own theory In his post-match interview That Carlsen “was so frustrated that he lost to a jerk like me. It must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him.”

What followed was akin to a true crime drama. Neiman’s history has been heavily scrutinized on the Internet, and his past games have studied inclinations and patterns.

Hikaru Nakamura, the great chess teacher, former world number two and YouTube chess celebrity, Replay the game Between Carlsen and Niemann to search for meaningless motions. In other words, search for movements that can only be driven by artificial intelligence. “I’m really sassy,” he said.

Greg Keener, FIDE Rule and assistant director of the Marshall Chess Club, in an analysis of The New York TimesThat Neimann’s Elo rating, which is based on a player’s playing record, has risen by more than 500 points since January 2021, describing it as “a sharp increase that many people don’t think is possible.”

In other words, the Niemann meteorite rise was a primary reason for many people’s skepticism.

The scandal only deepened when it emerged that Neiman, in an interview he gave to explain his game against Carlsen and defend himself against the accusations, confessed to cheating in online games when he was younger.

“You cheated on random games chess.com. I experienced. confessed. This is the single biggest mistake of my life. And I feel completely ashamed. I’m telling the world because I don’t want distortions and I don’t want rumours. I’ve never cheated on a board game. Other than that when I was 12, I never cheated in a tournament with prize money,” he said in Interview with the Saint Louis Chess Club.

“To give context, I was 16 years old and living alone in New York City at the center of the pandemic and was willing to do anything to grow my own stream,” he added. “What I want people to know about this is that I am deeply sorry for my mistake. I know that my actions have consequences and I have suffered from those consequences.”

Neiman went on to say that he would play naked to prove his innocence of the accusations against him while wearing devices on his body.

“If they want me to strip completely, I’ll do it. I don’t care. Because I know I’m clean. You want me to play in a closed box with no electronic carrier, I don’t care. I’m here to win and that’s my goal regardless.”

Nieman can’t be reached for comment before independent.

Two days after that interview, Chess.com said in a statement that it had blocked Neiman from entering the site, without it Going into more detail.

However, the drama continued. Neiman and Carlsen met in another match, this time online, at a tournament called the Generation Cup. After one step, Carlsen quit the game and Turn off his webcam.

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

The uproar threatened to derail the young man’s chess career even before it had even begun. However, no one has yet been able to provide any concrete evidence of his cheating.

After days of speculation, Chris Bird, the main referee at the Sincofield Cup, where the scandal began, said there was no evidence of cheating.

“In response to recent rumors circulating in the chess world, I can confirm that we currently have no indication that any players were playing unfairly in the 2022 Sinkfield Cup,” Bird said in a statement. Reuters.

The The New York Times mentioned He was invited back to the club’s next tournament.

(chess24.com/Getty)

Keener, in his analysis of times, He also referred to comments by Levon Aronian, the top Armenian who played in the same tournament and who defended Neiman in the post-match match. an interview.

“Well, I think it often happens when young players play well. There are all these accusations towards them. All my teammates are pretty much paranoid,” he said in the interview.

There was a more in-depth analysis by Professor Ken Reagan, described by ChessBase as “the world’s greatest expert at spotting chess cheats,” who analyzed all Niemann’s games from the past two years, both online and offline.

“Niman played well. But not so well in his judgmentWhich concluded that he does not cheat.

Perhaps that was the end of the controversy. But Carlsen got into the topic again this week in an interview.

“Unfortunately I can’t speak privately about it,” Carlsen said when asked why he quit his last match with Neiman. “But, you know, people can come to their own conclusions and they certainly have.

Then he hinted that he might not remain a mystery much longer.

“I hope to say more after the tournament,” he said.