OSLO: Chess World Champion Magnus Carlsen has accused American grandmaster Hans Niemann of cheating.
The Norwegian took to Twitter to issue a statement on why he withdrew from his games against the American.
"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," read the statement from Carlsen.
"I know that my actions have frustrated many in the chess community. I am frustrated. I want to play chess. I want to continue to play chess at the highest level in the best events," he added.
During the third round of the game against Niemann at Sinquefield Cup, Carlsen succumbed to a shock defeat to the American. Following that, he withdrew from the event.
"I've withdrawn from the tournament. I've always enjoyed playing in the @STLChessClub, and hope to be back in the future," he had tweeted on September 5 announcing the withdrawal.
Following that last week, he once again resigned after just one move against Niemann at the Julius Baer Generation Cup. Niemann is behind Carlsen by almost 200 Elo points, a measure used to calculate the relative skill level of chess players. Carlsen said that cheating is a big deal and poses an "existential threat" to the game.
"I also believe that chess organizers 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."
"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 was not 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," Carlsen alleged.
Coming to Niemann, the 19-year-old grandmaster has admitted to cheating twice as per Chess.com when he was 12 and 16 years of age. However, he regrets that.
"We must do something about cheating, and for my part going forward, I do not want to play against people that have cheated repeatedly in the past, because I do not know what they are capable of doing in the future," added Carlsen in his statement.
"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," concluded the world champion.
Notably, International Chess Federation (FIDE) also share the World Champion's deep concerns about cheating.
"Last week, World Champion Magnus Carlsen resigned in a game played in an online competition against GM Hans Niemann before making his move two. The week before, he left an over-the-board tournament after losing the game to the same Mr Niemann," said a statement from FIDE issued on September 23.
"These were not FIDE events; however, as the world's chess governing body, it is our duty to protect the integrity of the game and its image, and in view that the incident keeps escalating, we find it necessary to take a step forward."
"First of all, we strongly believe that the World Champion has a moral responsibility attached to his status since he is viewed as a global ambassador of the game. His actions impact the reputation of his colleagues, and sportive results, and eventually can be damaging to our game. We strongly believe that there were better ways to handle this situation."
"At the same time, we share his deep concerns about the damage that cheating brings to chess. FIDE has led the fight against cheating for many years, and we reiterate our zero-tolerance policy toward cheating in any form. Whether it is online or "over the board", cheating remains cheating. We are strongly committed to this fight, and we have invested in forming a group of specialists to devise sophisticated preventive measures that already apply at top FIDE events."
"As we have already done before, FIDE calls for reinforcing the cooperation between major online platforms, private events and top players - most of whom have already expressed their will to join efforts with FIDE. FIDE is prepared to task its Fair Play commission with a thorough investigation of the incident when adequate initial proof is provided, and all parties involved disclose the information at their disposal. We are fully aware that, in some cases, uncertainty can harm players' performance. It also can be damaging to a player's reputation - that's why we insist on the anti-cheating protocols to be followed."
"It is our hope that this whole situation could have a long-term positive effect if tackled properly. We propose to launch a dedicated Panel, that would include representatives of the leading chess platforms, Grandmasters, anti-cheating experts and FIDE officers, in order to fight this risk and prevent it from becoming a real plague," concluded the statement.