The game in which Magnus Carlsen (left) was beaten by Hans Niemann in St Louis in early September © FULLER

Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, has directly accused Hans Niemann of cheating following their games at the Sinquefield Cup at St Louis in early September, which Niemann won, and last week in the online Julius Baer Generation Cup, where Carlsen resigned after making just one move.

Key points of Carlsen’s message, posted Monday evening on Twitter, are that he believes that Niemann has cheated more recently than in two admitted episodes from several years ago, that he thinks Niemann cheated during their game at St Louis, that he has no intention of playing Niemann again, and that he would like to say more but does not, presumably on legal advice.

Reactions to Carlsen’s statement have so far been mixed. Most top grandmasters have supported the world champion, praised him for speaking out, and demanded stronger anti-cheating measures in elite tournaments, but other comments have expressed disappointment at the lack of specific evidence.

In particular. Carlsen’s description of their St Louis game as “outplaying me as Black in a way I think only a handful of players can do” is contrary to the general view that there were errors and inaccuracies on both sides, with Niemann missing clearer routes to victory and Carlsen overlooking several chances to draw or make the win difficult. Russia’s Alexander Grischuk summed it up succinctly: “Their game wasn’t suspicious. Niemann played average and Carlsen played poorly”. 

What happens next? Niemann is due to play in the US Championship in St Louis, starting on October 4, an event for which he qualified by winning the 2021 US Junior. There his opponents will be led by the American grandmaster elite, including three grandmasters ranked in the world top 10: top seeded Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian. Caruana has called some of Niemann’s moves “weird” and added: “with the technology, it is potentially possible to cheat while sitting at the board”.

Puzzle 2488

Nikita Vitiugov v Vladimir Kosyrev, Wroclaw 2014. White to move and win.

Click here for solution

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