'It's an existential threat to the game': World No.1 Magnus Carlsen on players cheating in chess events

IANSUpdated: Tuesday, September 27, 2022, 01:10 PM IST
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Magnus Carlsen |

A day after world No.1 chess player Magnus Carlsen crushed India's Arjun Erigaisi to clinch the Julius Baer Generation Cup -- the seventh leg of the USD1.6 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour -- and broke the 2900 Tour Rating barrier, the world champion shed light on him sensationally quitting his game against American star Hans Niemann after playing just one move in the preliminary stage of the tournament on September 19, saying it was because his opponent had "cheated".

In a statement posted on social media, Carlsen, who had caused a wave of shock when he pulled out of a match for the second time in two weeks, seemingly in protest at alleged cheating by his opponent, said, "At the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I made the unprecedented professional decision to withdraw from the tournament after my round three game against Hans Niemann. A week later during the Champions Chess Tour, I resigned against Hans Niemann after playing only one move.

"I know that my actions have frustrated many in the chess community. I'm frustrated. I want to play chess. I want to continue to play chess at the highest level in the best events," said Carlsen, terming cheating an "existential threat" to the sport.

"I believe that cheating in chess is a big deal and an existential threat to the game."

Onus on organisers

Carlsen also urged the organisers of tournaments to increase their vigil to ensure weeding out of the cheats. "I also believe that chess organisers and all those who care about the sanctity of the game we love should seriously consider increasing security measures and methods of cheat detection for over the board chess. When Niemann was invited last minute to the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I strongly considered withdrawing prior to the event. I ultimately chose to play.

Change in perspective

"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," added Carlsen.

In an indication he was not willing to play against Niemann anymore, Carlsen said, "I don't know what they (alleged cheaters) are capable of doing in the future."

Repeated cheating

He added: "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. There is more that I would like to say. Unfortunately, at this time I am limited in what I can say without explicit permission from Niemann to speak openly. 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," added Carlsen.

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