Magnus Carlsen, widely considered to be among the finest chess players in history, has reignited his rivalry with US teenager Hans Niemann by accusing him of cheating in a strongly-worded statement released on Monday.
Carlsen created headlines last week when he resigned from a match against Niemann after playing just one move, and said on social media that his decision to do so was made to help “preserve the game of chess.“
“I know that my actions have frustrated many in the chess community,” Carlsen, 31, wrote.
“I’m frustrated. I want to play chess. I want to continue to play chess at the highest level in the best events.”
“I believe that cheating in chess is a big deal and an existential threat to the game.
“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.”
Carlsen added that he believes that security measures designed to prevent cheating from players must be strengthened and that he “strongly considered” withdrawing from the recent Sinquefield Cup when he learned that Niemann had received a late invitation, before ultimately deciding to play.
Carlsen also noted that Niemann – who has admitted to cheating in online games in the past – has appeared to make huge leaps in his chess development recently despite, as he put it, not appearing to be “fully concentrating” on the match.
“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,” he wrote.
“We must do something about cheating, and for my part going forward, I don’t want to play against people that have cheated repeatedly in the past, because I don’t know what they are capable of doing in the future.”
Carlsen did not elaborate on the methods he suspects Niemann might be using to gain an unfair advantage, but speculation online has suggested that there is a belief he may be employing the use of a vibrating mechanism on his person which would signal to him the most appropriate move to make in a match.
It is also claimed within the allegations that Moscow-born Maxim Dlugy is somehow involved in the alleged cheating campaign. Dlugy was banned from Chess.com in 2017 after he too was accused of cheating.
Niemann, though, has denied allegations of cheating and says that he would submit to any form of search to prove that he is not secreting a cheating device on his person.
“I have never cheated in an over-the-board game. If they want me to strip fully naked, I will do it,” he said.
“I don’t care. Because I know I am clean. You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. I’m here to win and that is my goal regardless.”
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