Chess Scandal 2021

Written By Danish, Penang Malaysia
It's not often that the mainstream world of sports shines the spotlight on chess, but allegations of a cheating scandal captivated the attention of many. There is currently a $100,000,000 lawsuit in play, two amended complaints and no end in sight yet. The world took notice on Sept. 19, when Magnus Carlsen -- world No. 1 and the World Chess Champion since 2013 -- resigned unexpectedly while playing against Hans Niemann in the sixth round of the Julius Baer Generation Cup. After a week of silence, he finally explained his reason. "I believe that Niemann has cheated more -- and more recently -- than he has publicly admitted," Carlsen said in a statement on Sept. 26. That was in reference to Niemann admitting publicly to having cheated twice earlier in his career. However, -- the largest online chess platform in the world -- has been investigating Niemann, and it came up with a 72-page report claiming he likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games. Niemann fired back and initiated a lawsuit against Carlsen, and other defendants for "egregiously defaming him and unlawfully colluding to blacklist him" on Oct. 20. Defamation lawsuits are difficult to win, but Niemann is not giving up. There have been two amended complaints since the original one.In the latest update of this saga, Carlsen's legal team filed a motion to dismiss on Jan 24. "Niemann has now amended his complaint multiple times.The most Niemann has been able to do . . . is double down on his tale of persecution by engaging in gamesmanship and asserting new—but equally specious—claims," reads the document. Here's the story behind it all. Norwegian grandmaster Carlsen left the highly-anticipated match at the Julius Baer Generation Cup without explanation during Move 2, surprising everyone when he simply turned off his camera and disappeared. It was a dramatic moment, but one that was likely intended by Carlsen to get his point across regarding how he feels about the Niemann, a 19-year-old American player. Here's the moment he left the match: It wasn't until Sept. 21 when Carlsen finally said something about the situation, although it wasn't much because he was still competing in the event. "Unfortunately, I cannot particularly speak on that. People come to their own conclusions," he told Kaja Snare during a live interview. "I have to say I'm very impressed by Niemann's play and I think his mentor Maxim Dlugy must be doing a great job." Name-dropping Dlugy was an interesting decision, as Dugly was suspended from in 2017 and 2020 after being suspected of cheating. On Sept. 28, Vice published an article regarding emails in which Dlugy admits to cheating and explains that one of his students used a chess AI to feed him moves. The ongoing saga began weeks before the Julius Baer Generation Cup. On Sept. 4, Niemann and Carlsen faced each other in Round 3 of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. Niemann entered as the lowest-rated player in the field, but was able to pull off an upset against Carlsen, who was on a 53-match winning streak and had the advantage of the white pieces. "I think he was just so demoralized because he's losing to an idiot like me. It must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him." Niemann said in his post-match interview. He said that a "ridiculous miracle" helped him with his preparation for their match and also to guess how Carlsen would start the game. It was an interesting guess because, as interviewer Alejandro Ramirez pointed out, Carlsen was doing an unusual variation of his typical game. Niemann said that his 31-year-old opponent played a similar variation against Wesley So at the 2018 London Chess classic, although Niemann might have accidentally referred to the wrong match because neither Carlsen nor Wesley played in that tournament. He also explained that the veteran has a tendency for "these kinds of weird things" and that Carlsen has "mannerisms" that he has been able to learn because he grew up watching his games and interviews. Carlsen's move the following day was even more unexpected -- he withdrew from the tournament for the first time in his career. He did not say much as to why, except for a cryptic tweet that referenced a quote by Roma head coach Jose Mourinho. "I prefer really not to speak. If I speak, I am in big trouble, in big trouble. And I don't want to be in big trouble." Mourinho says in the video linked by the grandmaster.