World chess champion Magnus Carlsen refrained this Thursday (22) from saying categorically whether or not he believes rival Hans Niemann is a cheater. On Monday (19), Carlsen abruptly abandoned a match against the American in the Julius Baer Generation Cup online tournament, after a move.
This was the second time this month that the Norwegian withdrew from games or tournaments in which Niemann was also involved.
Carlsen, world champion since 2013, withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup in the US earlier this month after unexpectedly losing with the white pieces to the American.
It was the Norwegian’s first defeat with the white pieces, in a match in the classic model, since October 2020, when he lost to American Levon Aronian.
The day after the loss to Niemann, Carlsen explained his withdrawal from the tournament via Twitter. At the time, he posted a video of Portuguese football coach José Mourinho saying: “If I talk, I’m in trouble.”
The tweet sparked a furor of comments and allegations that 19-year-old Niemann had cheated. Weird theories emerged. One of them is that he used an anal device – wirelessly, of course – to receive, in Morse code vibrations, the feedback of the moves he should make at each moment of the confrontation.
“In response to recent rumors circulating in the chess world, I can confirm that we currently have no indication that any player has acted unfairly in the Sinquefield Cup 2022,” said tournament chief referee Chris Bird.
Niemann had previously been banned from chess.com for cheating in online matches, having admitted that he did not play fairly in non-competitive games on the site in his youth.
However, he denied any wrongdoing in the board games.
“If they want me to be completely naked, I’ll do it. I don’t care. Because I know I’m clean. You want me to throw it in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care,” he said recently.
Asked about his surprise withdrawal from both tournaments, Carlsen told Norwegian TV NRK: “Unfortunately I can’t speak particularly about it.”
“But people can draw their own conclusions and I certainly have and I must say that I am very impressed with Niemann’s game. I think his mentor Maxim Dlugy must be doing a great job.”
Asked if his decision had anything to do with him suspecting Niemann of cheating, Carlsen said, “I can’t comment on that.”
In July, Carlsen said he would not defend his 2023 world championship title against Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi as he was not motivated to play another match.
Nepomniachtchi will face China’s runner-up Ding Liren.