Chess world champion Magnus Carlsen explicitly accused rival and fellow chess grandmaster Hans Niemann of cheating in a shocking statement released on social media Monday.
The statement comes after Carlsen withdrew from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis after his third round defeat against Niemann, a loss that ended Carlsen’s 53-match unbeaten streak. He then subsequently chose to withdraw while playing the American after making just one move during the Julius Baer Generation Cup on September 20.
Carlsen openly accused Niemann of cheating for the first time in Monday’s statement, claiming that the 19-year-old’s progress in over the board chess–chess that is played face to face–has been “unusual.”
“When Niemann was invited last minute to the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I strongly considered withdrawing prior to the event. I ultimately chose to play,” the 31-year-old Norwegian wrote.
He continued: “I believe that Niemann has cheated more—and more recently—than he has publicly admitted. His over the board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do. This game contributed to changing my perspective.”
Niemann responded to the cheating allegations in the days after the Sinquefield Cup and denied any wrongdoing in his match against Carlsen. The 19-year-old did admit to cheating at the ages of 12 and 16 but said in an interview with the St. Louis Chess Club he had never cheated in over-the-board games.
“I’m saying my truth because I do not want any misrepresentation,” Niemann said. “I am proud of myself that I have learned from that mistake, and now I have given everything to chess. I have sacrificed everything for chess.”
In Monday’s statement Carlsen noted that he has no intention of playing against a player that has cheated repeatedly in the past because he “doesn’t know what they are capable of doing in the future.”
“At this time I am limited in what I can say without explicit permission from Niemann to speak openly,” he said. “So far I have only been able to speak with my actions, and those actions have stated clearly that I am not willing to play chess with Niemann. I hope that the truth on this matter comes out, whatever it may be.”
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