A scandal rocks the chess world

Upset in the sporting world is not unusual. There have been several occasions where legends taste defeat in the hands of newbies, something that often adds to the beauty of sports. But since the recent defeat of the world’s best Chess player to an unlikely opponent, the chess world has not remained the same. 

What’s happening there? 

Magnus Carlsen achieved the highest rank possible in Chess – chess grandmaster – when he was only 13 years old. The 31-year-old five-time World Champion threw the chess world into turmoil after he was defeated by 19-year-old Hans Niemann at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Though shocking, his defeat was, however, not a concern for observers. Carlsen subsequently announced his withdrawal from the remainder of the tournament, a move never seen before from the top player, at least not without a genuine reason – leading to questions in the chess world. 

What was his reason? 

In response to pressure from the Chess community, Carlsen tweeted a video of football’s most controversial manager, Jose Mourinho, in which the former Tottenham Hotspur boss suggested that officials in the Premier League were involved in ‘behind the scene’ manipulation but he [Mourinho] chose to keep quiet to avoid “trouble”. Though he made no direct claim of cheating, Carlsen’s tweet led to more questions in the Chess world, with many suggesting he must have had evidence of wrongdoing by his opponent. 

Did Carlsen explain what the tweet meant? 

No, he didn’t. “I’ve withdrawn from the tournament. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the @STLChessClub, and hope to be back in the future”, Carlsen tweeted with the video. Unsatisfied with Carlsen’s suspense, other chess grandmasters began analyzing the Carlsen-Niemann match to see if there was any evidence of foul play. In one of the analyses, American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura – via a YouTube video – suggested that Niemann played in a strange manner, and thus concluded that Niemann had outside help. 

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The match was streamed live and nobody was seen feeding Niemann information, leaving observers to wonder how he could have cheated without being caught. Observers have, however, been reminded of a July article, in which the author claimed to have figured out a way to communicate with a chess engine in real time through his socks – through which he could receive tips on his opponent’s moves and how to respond, all without being noticed. Though no evidence of cheating was found on Niemann, a history of cheating allegations in online tournaments, which resulted in his ban by “chess.com“, has left questions hanging over his famous win.