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


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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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