Generation Cup: Drama takes centre stage as Arjun grabs the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/20/2022 – The much anticipated direct encounter between Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann, following Carlsen’s sudden withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup, took place in round 6 of the Generation Cup. The game was indeed played, but it lasted only two moves, as Carlsen resigned with black after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4. It was yet another unfortunate incident, which leaves the chess world wondering when this whole passive-aggressive quarrel will come to an end. Meanwhile, Arjun Erigaisi climbed to sole first place after grabbing two wins and two draws in rounds 5 to 8.

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Long-lasting chess fans derive pleasure from marvelling at grandmasters’ ability to create memorable struggles over the board — everything from positional masterpieces to tactical skirmishes (not without errors). Mysteries surrounding enigmatic figures like Bobby Fischer add to the game’s aura, but having missed the chance to see the American genius facing Anatoly Karpov was nonetheless a big letdown for enthusiasts in the 1970s (and perhaps, to a lesser extent, for those who more recently read about Fischer’s amazing rise to the top and sudden retirement).

Times have changed, information travels at light speed, and we have developed a dislike for lasting uncertainty, especially when we feel that there is a straightforward way to get rid of the confusion. It has been two weeks since Magnus Carlsen suddenly withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup after losing to Hans Niemann in the fourth round. The fact that both players agreed to participate in the Generation Cup seemed to indicate that we were close to getting some type of clarification. However, round 6 of the online event not only did not offer what we so eagerly expected, but further thickened the plot.

Carlsen, playing black, resigned after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4, sending a clear signal that he is not going to back down easily. Nobody knows exactly what he is silently promulgating, since he has not given any explanation, but his quick resignation is yet more evidence that this likely has to do with Niemann’s alleged cheating.

At this point, we can only demand the world champion to give further explanations, as his actions have repercussions not only on his and Niemann’s performances, but also on the overall outcome of the tournament — i.e. this result might lead to other players not making it to the knockout stage, in an event with a $150,000 prize fund. Not to mention the disrespect towards organizers and spectators.

We can already state that things could have been handled differently, both if Carlsen has proofs to back his allegations or not — he could have withdrawn from the event or asked for an official revision of Niemann’s online cheating history to question the youngster’s participation, for example. The fact that the Norwegian is a stakeholder at Play Magnus Group, the organizer of the tour, adds even more layers of complexity to the whole situation.

On the other hand, of course, if Niemann actually cheated at some point and there is information that Carlsen has access to which is not public, this is a case of a person unjustly getting invitations to top events. And we all know that cheating in chess is not like cheating in other sports — it is like using a car to race Usain Bolt.

After resigning on move 2, Carlsen seemed undisturbed as he scored a remarkable win over Levon Aronian in the following round. Aronian, who had shared a rather conciliatory opinion regarding the controversy at the Sinquefield Cup, had this to say about the issue later on:

I understand that frustration of Magnus. I really didn’t know much about a lot of things. Now I am somewhere in the middle. I do believe Hans has not been the cleanest person when it comes to online chess. But he’s a young guy — hopefully this will be a lesson to him not to do any bad things online.

Apparently, Carlsen does not plan to give any explanations during this event. Tarjei J. Svensen reported that the world champion has told Norwegian TV that he is not giving any interviews during the tournament. 

[For a detailed account of the controversy, Albert Silver’s article from September 8 is a great source of information!]

Here are a few mainstream news reports:

Arjun and Pragg impress

While the drama unfolds, the two Indian teenagers in the lineup continue to impress with astounding performances. Arjun Erigaisi (aged 19) is leading the standings with 17/24 points while Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu (17) is sharing second place with Carlsen two points behind the sole leader.

On Monday, Arjun defeated Niemann and Aronian in the first rounds of the day, extending his winning streak to five games. He then drew Pragg and Ivan Saric to consolidate his spot atop the standings.

Besides drawing Arjun, Pragg drew Radoslaw Wojtaszek and beat Vincent Keymer before facing Carlsen with white in the final round of the day. The youngster has already defeated the world champion in previous events of the tour, and did not shy away from playing an aggressive line with the white pieces this time around.


Pragg went for 5.h4 Nf6 6.h5 Nxh5 7.Rxh5, going for the throat! Carlsen’s reaction when the youngster played this move said it all.

Moreover, White got winning chances in the struggle that ensued. Carlsen was resourceful throughout, however, and managed to hold a draw — and even got some chances of his own at some point. Once the game had finished, the world champion once again reacted expressively.

Do take a look at the game in our dynamic replayer at the end of the article!

Crosstable - Preliminaries (win = 3 pts; draw = 1 pt)


All games


Master Class Vol.8 - Magnus Carlsen 2nd Edition

Let our authors show you how Carlsen tailored his openings to be able to outplay his opponents strategically in the middlegame or to obtain an enduring advantage into the endgame.


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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eric b eric b 9/21/2022 04:39

"Doesn't Nieman remind a lot of the young Carlsen? You remember his depressive mood, slack posture, sloppy speech, unkempt curly hair… The Young Carlsen felt very uncomfortable in interview situations"

That's a good assessment of Carlsen, I've always noticed those things about him too, especially the slack body posture. The only difference is that Niemann often shows a great deal of emotion when speaking, while Carlsen has a very flat emotional affect. I would say that Carlsen has features that are more typical of autism spectrum. Of course, this is speculation on my part, but I would stand by it.
Green22 Green22 9/20/2022 07:08
@TimoKrogh - My thoughts also!
TimoKrogh TimoKrogh 9/20/2022 03:03
Carlsen should be thrown out of this Baer tournament and not be invited for other tournaments. Who knows when he will throw games or quit again.
Tournament directors: invite Hans Niemann instead.
tauno tauno 9/20/2022 02:40
Doesn't Nieman remind a lot of the young Carlsen? You remember his depressive mood, slack posture, sloppy speech, unkempt curly hair… The Young Carlsen felt very uncomfortable in interview situations. His analysis of his own games was usually very poor - his standard answer used to be "I don't know." - Some reporter even asked him if he is autistic, remember?

Nieman almost seems to be an imitation (or a parody) of the young Carlsen. So no wonder if Carlsen hates him. No wonder why he plays not so well against Niemann – must be hard to concentrate when there's so much emotion involved. When Niemann then succeeded in beating Carlsen on the chessboard, it was just too much! The cup overflowed.

My point is that there is also a lot of psychology involved here. What do you think?

Recommended reading:
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/20/2022 10:52
It is high time for Carlsen to clarify his position and present his evidence if he accuses Niemann of cheating. Or, if he is just handling his losses badly, then he should bite the bullet and apologize. His behavior harms chess.
arzi arzi 9/20/2022 09:14
The latest News in Chessbase: "Dr. Regan analyzed all of Hans Niemann's games over the last two years, including online games, such as played on and their events, and his conclusion is there is no reason whatsoever to suspect him of cheating."
Claudioarrau Claudioarrau 9/20/2022 08:59
As World Champion, Magnus understandably might have felt an obligation to make a statement to FIDE and the chess world in general that cheating is a problem that still needs urgent attention. Certainly, Hans has confessed to cheating online as a 12-year-old. But, unless Magnus has evidence of more recent transgressions, what is the point, at this time of day, of treating him as a pariah? Rather than very publicly humiliating Hans, wouldn't it have been the adult approach to discuss the matter with him, with a view to a joint statement that cheating is completely unacceptable? I'm inclined to think Hans would have been more than happy to sign on to that.
arzi arzi 9/20/2022 08:57
@FIDE_chess Online Chess Regulations apply in cases not covered by their regulations. Article 9 "Players' Conduct" has 9.1 "The players shall take no action that will bring the game of chess into disrepute..."

This was not a clever way of acting by Carlsen.
arzi arzi 9/20/2022 08:12
A question ... if Magnus knew that Niemann is playing in the same tournament why he did not abort the tournament in the very beginning? Why did he keep everyone on a loose rope until the last moment? Is this correct behavior towards the opponents, the crowd and the sponsors? In the old days, two players who were hostile to each other either played the game fighting to the last piece or did not enter the same tournament. This Magnus way of acting is quite childish.
Eclipse2008 Eclipse2008 9/20/2022 06:37
For FIDE to take action, Carlsen so far, has not broken any rules laid out by FIDE. He is clever that way.
arzi arzi 9/20/2022 06:11
I think Carlsen resigned the game when he saw Niemann´s powerful second move, 1...Nf6. 2. c4. 1-0. No human can invent such a powerful move! It has to be a quantum computer´s move. The Alpha has changed to the Beta. Yes, Carlsen had no other choice. Even though Carlsen is ex-WC, not even him can beat the Beta. Sad, humankind has lost the fight in chess. Let´s move on the fight in checkers.
AidanMonaghan AidanMonaghan 9/20/2022 06:07
Magnus Morphy?
arzi arzi 9/20/2022 05:55
How is it possible that Carlsen did NOT abort his tournament in Julius Baer Generation Cup?! He lost again against Niemann. CHEATING! Who? Not the band, but Somebody!

To NoSystem: Everybody should get a second chance, even Magnus ... or third.
Leavenfish Leavenfish 9/20/2022 05:04
@A Alekhine. Yes. King Magnus needs a break.

1. He renounced the 1 think every chess player would kill for - his crown. Then,
2. His Play Magnus Group was going downhill to the point that he had to see it sold off to the 'evil empire'...then
3. He regularly starts getting beaten by various 'young princes' from distant realms. (Pragg, Hans)

It's like some Shakespearean tragedy unfolding before our very eyes.
VVI VVI 9/20/2022 04:29
I would like to add further : Hans`s prior online cheating episode and reprimand was quite known in the elite chess circles . Then why did Magnus play Hans in the Maimi online FTX Crypto cup? After losing the first game, Magnus did not complain and won the match 3-1. He agreed to play Hans in the Sinquefield cup ; prior to his own game witnessed Hans outplaying Aronian and later beating Mamedyarov. Nobody doubted Hans`s play then.
Why should then Magnus speculate foul play when he loses the game and create a saga ? In the next game, amidst all the tensions and heightened security, Hans outplayed Alireza. I believe Hans is innocent until proven.
The chess fraternity should support Hans.
A Alekhine A Alekhine 9/20/2022 03:34
Carlsen is showing poor sportsmanship. It's time for him to make a statement or start behaving properly. Soon he will not even be the world champion since he has refused to defend his title. Perhaps he is having a meltdown after many years of playing in the pressure-filled world of top-level chess? I suggest Carlsen step away for a while and clear his head.
knnt954 knnt954 9/20/2022 03:25
You are carrying the torch. Behave yourself like the Champ. You are just a kid in a man's body. Grow up, kid!
Leavenfish Leavenfish 9/20/2022 03:20
Does 'throwing a game' not count as 'cheating' anymore? King Magnus just gave Hans 3 points...and he keeps trying to beat everyone else. It harms the other players who are vying for the top 8 so they can advance.

Kings make their own rules....but Magnus just lost any claim to the 'moral high ground' in the cheating debate.
NoSystem NoSystem 9/20/2022 03:10
I do not blame Magnus at all. While his might not be the most laudable reaction, it is perfectly reasonable. I, too, would object to a proven online cheater being allowed to play in an online tournament, and possibly any other. Hans has no right to complain; this mess is of his own making.
VVI VVI 9/20/2022 02:22
Magnus is getting a free ride for his obnoxious behavior. This is unwarranted. Poor Hans is again in the middle of the storm. He is 19 yrs old and his past mistakes are simply no reason to doubt his present character. His play would get affected again in this tournament as was the case in Sinquefield cup. Hans may also not get invitations from tournaments . FIDE needs to step in to demand explanation from Magnus and put an end to this saga.
tom_70 tom_70 9/20/2022 02:10
This is unbecoming behavior of a man who purports to the very best chess player on Earth.

The whole world is watching. Nobody is cheating. Prove your worth or shut up.
tauno tauno 9/20/2022 01:22
A thoughtful article of the Magnus Carlsen chess scandal in Norway's most-read online newspaper VG (use Google Translate).
GR2 GR2 9/20/2022 01:15
Why are these two in the same tournament if there is an issue? Is this a staged crisis to get more interest in chess?