FIDE Ethics Commission fines Carlsen 10,000 euros

by André Schulz
12/13/2023 – The FIDE Ethics and Disciplinary Commission (EDC) has deliberated on Magnus Carlsen's withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup following his defeat to Hans Niemann in September 2022 and has now reached a verdict. Carlsen has been fined 10,000 euros for his unjustified withdrawal. | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Center

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Magnus Carlsen lost to Hans Niemann in the third round of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup and then posted a video on Twitter with a quote from football coach Jose Mourinho in which he said: "If I speak I am in big trouble, big trouble, and I don't want to be in big trouble." This led to suspicions in the chess world that Carlsen was convinced that Niemann had won the game against him by unfair means, namely computer assistance.

After losing the game to Niemann, Carlsen, accompanied by his father Henrik Carlsen and grandmasters Peter Heine-Nielsen (his second), Ian Nepomniachtchi and Peter Svidler, approached the chief arbiter Chris Bird and announced that he was withdrawing from the tournament because he felt cheated. Ian Nepomniachtchi had also raised suspicions about Niemann when he heard of Hans Niemann's participation. Chris Bird pointed out the possibility of lodging a complaint with FIDE's Fair Play Commission. However, the players did not make use of this option.

Niemann admitted in an interview during the tournament that in previous years he had played with computer assistance in online tournaments on, but never in a game at the board.

Three weeks after the tournament Carlsen published a statement in which he commented on his withdrawal from the tournament. The behaviour of Hans Niemann during the game and the earlier suspicions against Niemann had prompted him to withdraw. Carlsen said that "I believe that Niemann has cheated more - and more recently - than he has publicly admitted".

In the "Julius Baer Generation Cup" online tournament (from 18 to 25 September 2022) Carlsen resigned his game against Niemann after one move. On 26 September Carlsen published another post in which he pointed out, among other things, Niemann's rapid chess development and his lack of tension during the games. published a report listing the online tournaments and games in which Niemann is alleged to have cheated with computer assistance in the past. Niemann is said to have admitted the cheating in a conversation with representative Daniel Rensch after he had been banned.

On 29 September FIDE announced an investigation into the matter after Carlsen's withdrawal and the allegation of cheating caused a stir in the chess world and beyond.

In October 2022 Hans Niemann filed a lawsuit against Magnus Carlsen, his company
Play Magnus Group, the online platform,'s Chief Chess Officer Daniel Rensch and also Hikaru Nakamura, who had supported Carlsen's suspicions in a stream, for defamation and damage to reputation and demanded USD 100 million in damages from each defendant. The case was partially dismissed in June 2023. The opponents have since settled.

FIDE investigated the playing conditions and anti-cheating measures at the Sinquefield Cup and spoke to the organisers. There were a number of anti-cheating measures in place at the tournament. None of the organisers found anything suspicious in Hans Niemann's behaviour on site. In the report, however, the investigating commission found inconsistencies. Prof Regan, who statistically analysed Niemann's games from the last three years, found no anomalies in them. His analysis was regarded as particularly important by FIDE. Niemann's improvements in rating were judged to be considerable, but not unusual.

However, the FIDE Ethics Commission agrees with Carlsen's argument that at the level of top grandmasters it is very unlikely that statistical methods will detect cheating that may have been committed in only one move.

FIDE also submitted Niemann's games to two super-GMs, who judged the games to be "normal for a GM level player". However, one of the two super GMs found the games "somewhat suspect".

The investigating committee asked Hans Niemann and Magnus Carlsen to comment. Hans Niemann replied through his lawyers and referred to the ongoing legal proceedings against Carlsen.

Magnus Carlsen replied that he had never directly accused Niemann of cheating, but had only given his personal impressions. His direct accusations had only related to online games. These were supported by the report.

According to the judgement of the investigating commission, Carlsen's accusations against Niemann are factually unfounded, as no evidence was presented. The FIDE investigation also found no evidence of computer cheating by Hans Niemann in any major tournament in the last three years.

During the investigation the Commission was in contact with Magnus Carlsen, who complained about various aspects of the nature of the investigation. Carlsen gave the Commission indications as to why he and other players had come to the conclusion that Niemann's successes were due to computer assistance. He felt that the investigation was incomplete because Niemann had refused to provide information, citing the ongoing legal dispute. In the meantime, however, the case had been closed. Carlsen also made a number of other criticisms, which are listed in the report of the Ethics Commission.

The FIDE Ethics Commission reached the following verdict: Magnus Carlsen is found guilty of violating Article 11.9(b) (Unjustified withdrawal from a tournament) of the FIDE Disciplinary Code and is fined 10,000 euros.

Carlsen may appeal against the decision.


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.