Mystery and controversy have crept into chess. The world champion Magnus Carlsen (31 years old) has had a strange attitude and behavior for a month after a surprising loss, after 53 games undefeated, in the prestigious Sinquefield Cup, in San Luis, against the American Hans Niemann (19 years old). The Norwegian was not eliminated by that setback, but he still announced on Twitter (where he has 748,800 followers) that he was leaving the tournament with an enigmatic message: “I have retired. I have always enjoyed playing at the San Luis Chess Club and hope to be back in the future.” The tweet was accompanied by an old video of José Mourinho in which the Portuguese soccer coach said: “If I talk I get into big trouble.” His last post to date, by the way.
Social networks began to blaze over Carlsen’s clear insinuation that something strange had happened in a game in which Niemann, number 49 in the world ranking, was playing at a good speed with black in classical chess against a rare variation of the nimzo-Indian that Magnus had prepared expressly for that game. “By some kind of miracle, I checked that line today. I don’t know why, it may sound ridiculous but it was like that”, justified the young player who in the past, at the age of 12, starred in an episode of fraud in an internet chess tournament.
“I think Magnus thinks Hans is probably cheating,” World 5 Hikaru Nakamura said live. For his part, the great master Miguel Illescas, eight times champion of Spain, analyzed the game in depth on his YouTube channel and concluded that he does not see the American doing anything illegal. The possible traps became a ‘trending topic’ and former players, analysts and board experts have been arguing reasons in favor of one or the other for three weeks.
Computer help is the possible workhorse, but how? In the 2006 World Cup, the Bulgarian Topalov accused the Russian Kramnik of going to the bathroom many times to, as he denounced, consult the internet to activate one of the multiple chess engines that simulate the game board and analyze the possible moves. It was never proven, but currently the surveillance in the most prestigious tournaments is gigantic and now this option is practically impossible. Another option? Use a hidden transmitter to receive external information. The formulas and explanations in the Niemann case have gone ‘in crescendo’ and the high point has come with a conspiracy theory that Elon Musk has made viral on networks: Niemann would have used vibrating anal beads to give orders in Morse code and so on. anticipate the movements of the Norwegian.
The rumor reached the ears of the North American who, ironically, has answered taking the opportunity to send a message to Carlsen: “If you want me to get completely naked and play like this, I will.. I don’t care because I know I’m clean. I cheated in random games on Chess.com, but I confessed to it. It was the biggest mistake of my life and I am completely ashamed. I have never cheated in a game on the board or with prize money except for that time when I was 12 years old. By the way, it must be embarrassing for a world champion to lose to an idiot like me. I am very grateful to fate for having the opportunity to play chess at such a high level and pursue my dreams.”
Tension that, far from diminishing, has grown exponentially when this week They have had to face each other, via internet, in the Julius Baer Generation Cup. What has happened? Before his second move, Carlsen gave up, giving victory to his rival and showing his discomfort with Niemann. “It is unacceptable to lose on purpose and very unsportsmanlike, an attitude that can be just as sanctioned as cheating,” commented Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norwegian television TV-2. Other board myths like Karpov and Kasparov ask Carlsen for explanations, who remains silent on the matter.