Chess Sex Toy Cheating Scandal Explained: World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, Hans Niemann in Wild Sports Controversy

It’s not often that the mainstream world of sports puts the spotlight on chess, but allegations of a cheating scandal focusing on sex toys have caught the attention of many.

On September 19, Magnus Carlsen – No. 1 and world chess champion since 2013, unexpectedly resigned while playing against Hans Niemann in the sixth round of the Julius Baer Generation Cup. Here’s the story behind it all.

How it started

The Norwegian grandmaster left the highly anticipated match unexplained during the second move, surprising announcers Peter Leko and Tania Sachdev when he simply turned off the camera and disappeared. It was a dramatic moment, but probably wanted by Carlsen to clarify his feelings about Niemann, a 19-year-old American player.

Carlsen had never explicitly accused Niemman of cheating before. Here’s the moment he left the game:

It wasn’t until September 21 when Carlsen – who is still competing in the event – finally said something about the situation, even if it wasn’t much. He kept his answers in a very general way, avoided his thoughts on cheating speculation and said he will say more at the conclusion of the tournament, which ends on September 2nd. 25.

“Unfortunately, I can’t speak specifically about this. People come to their own conclusions,” he told Kaja Snare in a live interview. “I have to say that I am very impressed with Niemann’s game and I think his mentor Maxim Dlugy is doing a great job.”

His coach, Peter Heine Nielsen, also refrained from saying much during the interview the day before.

The ongoing saga began weeks before the Julius Baer Generation Cup. On September 4, Niemann and Carlsen met in the third round of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. Niemann entered the tournament as the lowest-scoring player on the field, but was able to pull off a turnaround against Carlson, who had a 53-game winning streak and had the white piece advantage.

“I think he was so demoralized because he’s losing to an idiot like me. It must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I’m sorry for him.” Niemman said in his post-match interview.

He said a “ridiculous miracle” helped him prepare for the match and also guess how Carlsen would start the match. It was an interesting hypothesis because, as interviewer Alejandro Ramirez pointed out, Carlsen was doing an unusual variation of his typical game.

Niemann said his 31-year-old opponent played a similar variation against Wesley So at the 2018 London Chess classic, although Niemann may have accidentally referred to the wrong match because neither Magnus nor Wesley played in that tournament. He also explained that the veteran has a tendency for “this kind of weird stuff” and that Carlsen has “mannerisms” that he could learn because he grew up watching his games and interviews.

Carlsen’s move the next day was even more unexpected: he retired from the tournament for the first time in his career. He didn’t say much about why, except for a cryptic tweet referencing a quote from Roma manager Jose Mourinho.

“I really prefer not to talk. If I talk, I’m in big trouble, in big trouble. And I don’t want to be in big trouble.” says Mourinho in the video linked by the grand master.

Emil Sutovsky, Director General of the International Chess Federation, said on September 17. 5 that he had no intention of speculating on the reason for Carlsen’s retirement, but he pointed out that it seemed out of place.

“He must have had a compelling reason, or at least he thinks he does. Don’t call him an angry or disrespectful loser.” Sutovsky tweeted.

The allegations of treason

Grandmaster and online streamer Hikaru Nakamura theorized that the reason Carlsen retired was because he suspected Niemann was cheating. Nakamura also shared a clip of Canadian grandmaster Eric Hansen saying he removed Niemann from the chess events he hosted due to suspicions of treason. Meanwhile, Chess.com – the world’s largest online chess platform – also believed Niemann might not be an honest player and banned him from the site.

In an interview on September 6, Niemann faced speculation and said the chess world seemed to have allied itself with him on social media.

“Many of my heroes, whom I once had respect for, whom I once admired, many of my heroes have decided to get on this bandwagon,” Niemann said. “There has been a lot of speculation and a lot of things have been said. I’m the only one who knows the truth.”

However, Niemann admitted that he cheated twice during his chess career, once when he was 12 and again at the age of 16. That second time, he explained, was because he was trying to improve his ranking to play against. stronger opponents. Niemann said cheating was his biggest career regret, but he learned from it and that he would never cheat in a cash prize tournament.

He claimed that Chess.com has what he described as “the best cheat detection in the world” and that he was open to them about his past. Niemann said it was “ridiculous” that they had banned simply because Carlsen was insinuating that he had done something wrong.

“I won’t leave Chess.com, I won’t leave Magnus Carlsen, I won’t let Hikaru Nakamura – arguably the three biggest chess entities – simply slander my reputation,” Niemann said.

Unfortunately for Niemann, the speculation has not subsided. Rumors of cheating continued to spread, and even Tesla CEO Elon Musk got involved when a particularly strange cheating rumor began to gain more popularity online. a post reddit suggested that Niemann could have used a sex toy to cheat. There is no hard evidence and the claim might sound outrageous, but technically it would be possible to use vibrations to communicate.

In July, programmer James Stanley proved he can cheat using vibrations in his shoes.

“If they want me to strip completely naked, I will. I don’t care because I know I’m clean,” Niemann said. “You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. I’m here to win and that’s my goal regardless.”

On September 8, Chess.com Chief Chess Officer Danny Rensch said Niemann was banned because they found information on the site that contradicts his claims about the extent and severity of his cheating. Rensch also added that he invited Niemann to provide an explanation and an answer to try to find a solution.

Two days later, the Sinquefield Cup has sent an official statement saying there was no indication that any player had cheated in the tournament. However, the tournament has established further anti-cheat measures after the incident. These precautions included radio frequency identification checks for players and a 15 minute delay in live broadcast.

Due to all the drama and uncertainty, the Niemann vs. Carlsen’s rematch at the Julius Baer Generation Cup – the seventh event of the Champions Chess Tour – was highly anticipated by those who were aware of the context. Some hoped that the match between them would bring a sense of normality, but the opposite happened when Carlsen stepped down.

Carlsen has no longer made public comments on the situation. While there are people who want an explanation of him, others like the Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian understand his silence.

“I understand that Magnus doesn’t want to explain why he creates more drama,” Aronian said during a live interview on the show. “Right now, he’s just saying, ‘I’m not going to play this person and that’s it.'”

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