It's the end of the (chess) world as we know it because the community is currently entangled in one of its biggest scandals in ... pretty much ever. During the third round of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, 19-year-old American grandmaster Hans Niemann defeated reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen.
Following his loss, the 31-year-old Norwegian grandmaster withdrew from the tournament and announced his decision in a cryptic tweet that led fans to accuse Hans of cheating during the match. Then things took another turn when Magnus abruptly resigned during a rematch. And people started talking about anal beads. Wait, what? Keep reading for all the deets.
Magnus Carlsen explicitly accused his chess opponent Hans Niemann of cheating.
On Sept. 4, five-time world chess champion Magnus Carlsen lost a third-round match to Hans Niemann; the next day, he took to Twitter to announce he backed out of the tournament. Magnus explained his reasoning alongside a video of Portuguese football manager José Mourinho saying, "I prefer really not to speak. If I speak, I'm in big trouble, and I don't want to be in big trouble."
On Sept. 26, Magnus released a statement via Twitter and explicitly accused his 19-year-old rival of cheating.
"I believe that cheating in chess is a big deal and an existential threat to the game," Magnus stated, adding that chess organizers 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. I believe that Niemann has cheated more — and more recently — than he has publicly admitted."
Magnus continued, "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."
According to The Guardian, Hans Niemann had cheated at chess before; a few years ago, the California native was reportedly temporarily banned from Chess.com for using his computer during an online tournament.
Now, during an interview with Saint Louis Chess Club, the chess newcomer revealed that Chess.com had taken action to permanently remove his login access and banned him from playing in its global championship amid the cheating scandal.
Hans Niemann has denied the cheating accusations.
After various accusations were thrown around, Hans addressed the cheating allegations with the Saint Louis Chess Club. He denied any wrongdoing at the Sinquefield Cup, accusing Magnus and others — including Hikaru Nakamura — of trying to sabotage his career.
Nevertheless, Hans did admit that he had cheated during chess matches when he was younger.
"I cheated on random games on Chess.com. I was confronted. I confessed. And this is the single biggest mistake of my life," Hans disclosed to grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez of the Saint Louis Chess Club. "I am completely ashamed, and I am telling the world because I don’t want misrepresentation, and I don’t want rumors."
There was also a rumor that Hans could be using vibrating anal beads to cheat. (Yes, really.)
OK, so this is where things get even wilder. Obviously, people want to know how it's even possible to cheat at chess. One theory that has gotten a lot of attention is that someone who wanted to cheat could theoretically have the best moves communicated to them via wireless, vibrating anal beads.
In response to this bonkers conspiracy theory, Hans said he'd be willing to play naked to prove he wasn't using a device to cheat during games. "If they want me to strip fully naked, I will do it. 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," he said.
On Sept. 19, Magnus abruptly resigned from a rematch against Hans.
Magnus and Niemann had a virtual rematch as part of the Julius Baer Generation Cup on Sept. 19, and things took yet another turn. Magnus turned his camera on, made a single move, then resigned and turned his camera off without saying anything.
The chess world is still waiting for an explanation, but Magnus has remained pretty tight-lipped so far. He did participate in an interview after resigning, but only said of Hans that he thought his mentor "must be doing a great job."
With so many new eyes on the chess world after the recent drama, we're sure there will be more updates to come.