While scandals are not common in the world of chess, this one is particularly special. Being accused of using anal beads to cheat is something that no one would have imagined. But it just happened with Hans Niemann after his victory against World No. 1 grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, last week. Niemann, who was born in San Francisco, is relatively new in the sport.
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During the Sinquefield Cup match in St. Louis, chess fans speculated that an accomplice used a chess program to determine the perfect move, and then sent a coded message via a vibrating toy, according to Daily Mail. While Niemann has staunchly denied cheating in that game, critics note that his Elo rating increased from 2484 to 2701 after he defeated Carlsen.
In a statement after his victory, Niemann said: “I have never cheated in an over-the-board game.” And he is now facing new speculation after he previously admitted to cheating in an online game when he was 12 years old. He said his cheating occurred as a child before he turned professional.
He stated, “I’m admitting this, and I’m saying my truth, because I do not want any misrepresentation,’ he went on. I am proud of myself that I learned from that mistake, and now I have given everything to chess. I have sacrificed everything for chess, and I do everything I can to improve.”
There are those in the sport who do not believe that Niemann’s sudden rise is possible, reinforced by Niemann’s admission that he has previously cheated in online tournaments using chess programs.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk even shared a video on Twitter of an influencer discussing Niemann’s rumored use of anal beads during the chess match. In a since-deleted tweet, Musk shared an edited version of a quote from philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, tweeting: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one can see (cause it’s in ur butt).”
Earlier in September, Niemann faced Carlsen at the $500,000 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri, but the up-and-coming champion won the tournament only after Carlsen pulled out of the fourth round.
After his withdrawal from the tournament without explanation, Carlsen posted a cryptic Tweet saying, “I withdrew from the tournament. I’ve always enjoyed playing at @STLChessClub and hope to be back in the future.”
It is rare for chess players to cheat, but it can happen by hiding computers in their shoes or jackets that predict outcomes and give them an advantage.
While the truth may come out soon, Niemann went as far as declaring he is willing to strip for the sake of denying the claims of his cheating. ‘If they want me to strip… I will do it,’ he said. But this is already impacting his career, as Chess.com has declined to invite him to their Global championship event starting with qualifications online and culminating in a final with 8 players in Toronto. It’s worth noting that Hans Niemann only became a chess grandmaster in 2020.
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