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It should have been easy for Magnus Carlsen, or at least as easy as a top chess game can be. When the world chess champion took on 19-year-old American Hans Niemann in the Sinquefield Cup earlier this month, he had the advantage of playing the white pieces, had a 53-match unbeaten streak and was against one. who entered the tournament as the lowest rated player.
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Carlsen’s loss to Niemann in that game was unusual, but what followed was even more so. The next day, the world’s No. 1 chess star withdrew from the tournament without explanation; just a short statement posted on Twitter and a meme.
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“I withdrew from the tournament. I’ve always enjoyed playing at @STLCessClub and hope to return in the future,” he wrote in a tweet accompanied by a video of José Mourinho saying: “I really prefer not to talk. If I talk, I’m in big trouble.
Carlsen did not explicitly say so, but his withdrawal and the cryptic video were interpreted as a veiled accusation of fraud against Niemann.
Niemann has vehemently denied the allegations against him, but the chess world – which is its own ecosystem of players and teachers, YouTubers, streamers and fans – has since been consumed by drama.
“Basically, it looks like Magnus Carlsen thinks there’s something wrong with Hans Niemann,” Levy Rozman, an international master and host of a popular chess-based YouTube channel, said in a video. He described it as “probably the biggest chess scandal in history”.
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Cheating in chess is as old as the game itself. But the rise of online play, coupled with the invention of AI-powered chess engines that can calculate millions of possible moves in seconds, has led to an explosion of cheating in recent years. Chess.com, the Internet’s most popular chess platform, calls the scam “chess’ dirty, not-so-big secret,” one that has “plagued online chess sites.” The site says it suspends about 500 accounts a day for fraud.
So how should Niemann, who personally played Carlsen, cheat? This is where things get weird. A theory reported from the depths of Reddit, which suggested that Neimann uses vibrating anal beads to receive movement commands from an outside helper, was discussed as a serious possibility by Grandmaster Eric Hansen in a live stream. Another theory suggested that Niemann uses a “tiny laser” that “creates an ultraviolet line on the plate only visible through social contacts [sic]”.
Niemann had his own theory, proposing in his post-match interview that Carlsen “was so demoralized because he lost to an idiot like me. It must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him.”
What followed was something akin to a true crime drama. Niemann’s history has been scrutinized online, his past games studied for anomalies and patterns.
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Hikaru Nakamura, a chess grandmaster, former world number 2 and popular chess YouTuber, replayed the game between Carlsen and Niemann to look for moves that didn’t make sense. In other words, he was looking for movements that could only be determined by artificial intelligence. “I’m really addicted,” he said.
Greg Keener, FIDE arbiter and assistant manager at The Marshall Chess Club, wrote in an analysis for the New York Times that Niemann’s Elo rating, which is based on a player’s playing record, has increased by more than 500 points since January 2021, describing it. as “a growth so strong many people don’t think it’s possible”.
The scandal only intensified when it emerged that Niemann, in an interview he gave to explain his play against Carlsen and defend himself against the charges, admitted to cheating in online games when he was younger.
“I cheated random players on Chess.com. I was confronted. I admit it. And this is the biggest mistake of my life. And I’m very ashamed. I’m telling the world because I don’t want misrepresentations and I don’t want I don’t want rumours. I don’t I’ve never cheated in an over-the-board game. And except for when I was 12, I’ve never cheated in a cash tournament,” he said in an interview with St. Louis. Chess club.
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“To give context, I was 16 years old and living alone in New York City in the heart of the pandemic and willing to do anything to increase my flow,” he added. “What I want people to know about this is that I am deeply, deeply sorry for my mistake. I know my actions have consequences and I have suffered those consequences.
Niemann went on to say that he would play dumb to prove his innocence to the charges of having devices on his body.
“If they want me to come out really sticky, I will. I don’t care. Because I know I’m clean. You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. I’m here to win and anyway this that’s my goal,” he said.
Two days after that interview, Chess.com said in a statement that it had banned Niemann from the site, without elaborating.
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However, the drama continued. Niemann and Carlsen met in another game, this time online, in a tournament called the Generation Cup. After one move, Carlsen resigned from the game and turned off his webcam.
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After days of speculation, Chris Bird, chief referee at the Sinquefield 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 player has played unfairly in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup,” Bird said in a statement, according to Reuters.
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And to the comments of Levon Aronian, an Armenian grandmaster who played in the same tournament and who defended Niemann in a post-match interview.
“Well, I think it happens quite often when young players play really well. There are all these accusations against them. All my colleagues are quite paranoid,” he said in the interview.
There was an even more in-depth analysis by Professor Ken Regan, described as “the world’s leading chess cheat detection expert” by ChessBase, who analyzed every Niemann game from the past two years, online and offline.
“Niemann played well. But not too well,” he said in his judgment, which concluded that he did not cheat.
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That could have been the end of the controversy. But Carlsen addressed the issue again in an interview this week.
“Unfortunately, I can’t talk about that specifically,” Carlsen said when asked why he pulled out of his last match with Niemann. “But, you know, people can draw their own conclusion, and they certainly did.”
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Please refresh or navigate to another page on the site to be connected automatically. Update your browser to connect NEW DELHI: Arjun Erigaisi and former national title holder Lalith Babu M R are at seven-way after the fourth final of the 19th Delhi International Chess Tournament here on Thursday.
Arjun got the better of Kushagra Jain without much of a fight to register his fourth win on the trot while Lalith beat Padmesh in a lead with Arjun, Visakh N R; Iniyan P, Shahil Dey, Azerbaijani Mirzoev from Azerbaijan and Seyed Kian Poormosavi from Iran.
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With seven matches to go, as many as sixteen players, including 13-year-old Yashita Rout from Odisha, sit eighth – half a point off the table leaders.
Yashita stole the show on Thursday when she stopped grandmaster Mitrabha Guha, who scored over 1100 rating points, to a creditable draw.
Stage four started as a normal tournament after the organizers opted for the Accelerated Matchmaking System for the first three rounds so that norm seekers would have more chances instead of more entries. This paved the way for Yashita to look at higher level chess.
Early in the third round, third seed and five-time Commonwealth champion Abhijeet Gupta suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Rohith Krishna, while Shahil Dey got the better of Iranian grandmaster Masoud Mosadeghpour.
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