Garry Kasparov on Magnus Carlsen: "his behavior was unacceptable"

by Albert Silver
10/4/2022 – There is a sense of frustration at this stage by parties wide and large, and while the quote in the headline will hit closer to home for chess players, the venerable British newspaper 'The Guardian' also took an unprecedented step by declaring their own official position regarding the entire scandal.

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It was somewhat unexpected to see Garry Kasparov appearing in a short interview granted to Carl Fredrik Johansson of Uppsala Chess+ Academy in Sweden, but a welcome surprise as it goes without saying that after his initial Tweet on the topic, the question burned on what he thought of the ongoing Carlsen-Niemann Affair. Kasparov did not mince words.

The quotes below were edited for clarity.

On Carlsen's loss to Niemann

"I understand his frustration and his anger after losing the game and finding other reasons than his own poor play in his game to blame for his loss"

Regarding his actions

"...leaving the tournament was unacceptable. Even if he had proof, and as to the specific game Magnus lost there was no evidence of any wrongdoing, I think that was really bad for chess, it was bad for St. Louis. It's one of the most important tournaments, if not the most important tournament in in the world."


"... I think that his behavior was unacceptable and it creates some sort of precedence. There are many things you could do without violating your contractual obligations."

The Guardian makes a statement

Over the weeks, we have seen this topic brought up pretty much everywhere by now, and papers with a tradition of chess coverage such as the British newspaper 'The Guardian' have done so more than once. However, they took the rather unusual step of stating their official position on the matter, not as an article signed by one writer or another, but as an Opinion piece representing the newspaper as a whole.

"Niemann has acknowledged cheating online as a teenager, but insists he has never done so in an over-the-board game and angrily denies the new claims. “Once a cheat, always a cheat,” chorus his detractors, but Niemann should surely not be condemned for youthful misdemeanours in games where little was at stake. There is no evidence that he cheated when he beat Carlsen."


"But he (Carlsen) is wrong to muddy the waters around Niemann without substantive evidence. Britain’s former world title contender Nigel Short says that the young American is at risk of suffering “death by innuendo”. Experts reckon Carlsen played unusually poorly in his defeat to Niemann. Maybe it was just a bad day at the office. Or perhaps it was the result of paranoia: once a player believes their opponent is cheating, that inevitably affects their own play. Carlsen needs to produce concrete evidence – ideally as part of the inquiry announced on Thursday by the International Chess Federation – or let Niemann get on with his career."

Link to full article



Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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nexe nexe 2/4/2023 05:05
It can be difficult to prove cheating. And it is equally quite unfair to destroy a career with unproved rumours.
Leavenfish Leavenfish 10/14/2022 05:49
"The Guardians View"....seriously, it's one guy...probably a reasonable chess player (?) but to use this phrase in quotes is to make it sound more 'substantial' than it really is. One mans view.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/7/2022 05:01
@mstefa the fact that players run into the preparation of their opponent happens regularly and they happen even quite deep into the position. Also, it does happen in offbeat and rare variations. Excluding that Carlsen might have run into Niemann's preparation because it is unprobable does not look to be a correct assessment.

Running into the preparation of opponent has the exact pattern that

- player X did not expect player Y to have analyzed that position
- player X was wrong about it
- usually player Y mops the floor with player X

I'm quite baffled that anyone would seriously agree for the mathematical impossibility of Carlsen running into Niemann's prep after 20+ moves.
mstefa mstefa 10/7/2022 12:54
The game Magnus played several years back matches first 7 moves ( I read that article too) and not even in the same order.
And having played chess my whole life I know that most of the moves possible can be discounted easily. I also know that in that position after move 7 there are at least 3-4 sensible moves and 3-4 sensible replies by black piece side. That’s already 10-15- next move as well.. going from 7 to 22 moves when Magnus does not play top theoretical moves for exact same reason means that Hans would have to prepare approximately top 3 moves and top 3 moves .. 15 times. So at the least 3 to the power of 15. So sorry.. it’s not billions, it’s 14 million different ones.. oh but he said : even further!! Haha.
As far as court- yes in civil court balance of probabilities is always used. Even in criminal we use DNA and say 1 in 5 billion chance it’s him . And to jail he goes. OJ Simpson lost civil court even though he wasn’t convincted in criminal. So yes, they argunent would hold. If something is statistically highly improbable.. it probably didn’t happen and courts would acknowledge that. So, he did cheat.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/6/2022 12:20

"You had THIS position in your prep this morning?
Hans boldly answered “ even further”
Now that my friend is not possible. Number of possible variations to study to move 22 is in billions.. "

That's a fallacious statement. Preparations go to this depth and beyond and a player has hundreds, if not thousands of such prepared lines during his preparation. The aim of the preparation is to anticipate what the opponent might play and of course there are some no brainer moves at the start of the game that are parts of well-established opening reperoires. It is quite possible that the position on move 22 was considered during preparation as well.

If we know he cheated (we do not), then we also know how he cheated, apart from extreme cases, such as when he admits cheating but does not reveal his method.


"claiming he had prepared as Black, based off somehow randomly that very morning having watched a single Magnus game in that opening from years earlier that didn't even follow the same line, defies credulity."

Jonathan Pein answered this objection, by pointing out why he thinks it to be wrong. Have you read that?
JGHakeem JGHakeem 10/6/2022 07:06
@Michael Jones - claiming he had prepared as Black, based off somehow randomly that very morning having watched a single Magnus game in that opening from years earlier that didn't even follow the same line, defies credulity.

He didn't say that Magnus has a pattern of playing that opening (because he almost never does). He didn't say he had some insightful way of predicting Magnus would play it. He claimed that he just randomly happened upon a single previous game that very morning (though he got the year and place of the game wrong) and then prepares all those moves to counter that game based on....what?

It was like the rest of his post-game analysis, all vague and shrugs without any depth of thought.
JGHakeem JGHakeem 10/6/2022 06:58
The Guardian states "Niemann has acknowledged cheating online as a teenager". He's still a teenager now! Those were very recurrent actions. Making it sounds like his cheating was a youthful indiscretion in the distant past muddies the waters.
Michael Jones Michael Jones 10/5/2022 07:13
@mstefa: referring to the number of possible variations in the billions and claiming this is proof that Niemann couldn't have looked at a particular one shows that you are the one who doesn't understand chess. There might be billions of variations which are theoretically possible, but the vast, vast majority of those will never occur in an actual game because they consist mostly of senseless moves. You don't need to bother analysing a line beginning (for instance) 1. a4 Nh6 2. Ra2 f6 because it will never happen. In practical play, some lines occur much more frequently than others, and when those lines have been analysed for years by a bunch of top players with the assistance of engines, it's quite plausible that the players will know them until move 20 or beyond and not have to start thinking at the board until they finally get out of book at some point after that. There is nothing unusual about Niemann claiming to have prepared a position to move 22; watch post-game interviews with any top player and they will frequently say the same.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/5/2022 04:55
@mstefa - saying he cheated but you don't know how. Do you seriously think that statement would hold a candle in a court of law? I mean in what universe are we talking about here?
Eatenbyapuma Eatenbyapuma 10/5/2022 02:59
Kasparov invested with Dlugy's hedge fund and ran Karpov's FIDE President campaign with Dlugy... Dirty
arzi arzi 10/5/2022 02:04
mstefa:"Around, what’s a side character?"

Someone else had that same Lance -story of yours in his/her writing. If mistaken I apologize.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/5/2022 01:09
Saying that Niemann has cheated, but we do not know how is almost self-contradictory. If we knew he was cheating, (apart from very few exceptions) we would already knew how he has done it. One analysis claims he makes too many (centipawn) mistakes, the other claims he doesn't commit mistakes, so the proponents of different narratives may need to synchronize their theory.
arzi arzi 10/5/2022 06:57
mstefa:"Hans said " oh I had miraculously prepared it that morning" which is akin to Lance saying " I trained hard for that last week" Chances of both are exactly 0.
So he cheated - we don't know how."

Read Malcolm Pein article. There he will be explaining to you about prep.

Btw, mstefa, have you changed your side character again?
DaoudLS DaoudLS 10/4/2022 10:51
Given Kasparov's widely publicised malicious and unsubstantiated allegations (never retracted) against one of his seconds, Vladimirov, of leaking his (Kasparov's) preparation after he lost a third game in a row to Karpov in their first match, which had an adverse affect on his (Vladimirov's) career, I think Kasparov is the last person who should be publicly talking about Carlsen's behaviour. Has he no shame? What a hypocrite!
tom_70 tom_70 10/4/2022 10:44
I remember Kasparov. He was world champ a hunnerd years ago.
e-mars e-mars 10/4/2022 10:29
"his behavior was unacceptable" from Garry Kasparov who accused IBM to cheat during their second match with DeepBlue, accusation that took more than two decades to be fully retracted
mstefa mstefa 10/4/2022 10:25
if Lance Armstrong was riding his bike 150 MPH, nobody would be doubting that he's cheating - it would be only question how. When Hans plays 100% engine correlated moves, people still ask for proof? Humans simply can't play at that level on their own. So.. to cover for that, Hans said " oh I had miraculously prepared it that morning" which is akin to Lance saying " I trained hard for that last week" Chances of both are exactly 0.
So he cheated - we don't know how.
dakchung dakchung 10/4/2022 10:21
Investigation finds that U.S. grandmaster "likely cheated" more than 100 times.
Theochessman Theochessman 10/4/2022 10:20
Garry who? Wasn't he some politics guy?
Maatalkko Maatalkko 10/4/2022 09:51
RE the comments on the pot calling the kettle black: takes one to know one, perhaps? Now that Kasparov has had a few decades to reflect on some of his own bad behavior in the past, maybe he would do things differently in hindsight.
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 10/4/2022 09:32
only USA believe in lie detectors.
lagrigorescu lagrigorescu 10/4/2022 09:31
Well, some things are impossible to be proved with evidence, but there is that 6th sense...and Magnus has it. What if Magnus was spied on and critical data was transferred to Hans just in time? How can a regular person - even if that person is Chess World Champion - can prove a sophisticated hack?
arthur nugent arthur nugent 10/4/2022 09:13
HANS takes a lie detector test.Simple.
A Alekhine A Alekhine 10/4/2022 07:56
I agree with the general burden of this article: Magnus should put up or shut up. And apologize to Niemann.
strokajlo strokajlo 10/4/2022 07:40
Perhaps Kasparov can talk next about his own unacceptable behaviour, on and off the board, and apologize for it.
Mamack1 Mamack1 10/4/2022 07:21
Gazza knows a bit about "unacceptable behaviour" himself, of course.
Green22 Green22 10/4/2022 06:23
Exactly and WHERE'S THE PROOF already? what a sham! and people actually think Hans cheated OTB - hilarious with no proof provided yet.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/4/2022 05:42
I think by now everything has been said about this subject, except by the ones involved. I've had enough.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 10/4/2022 05:41
Yep. Niemann did not have to play like a god to win that game - a legit victory by a near 2700 player in that position is totally plausible.