The Carlsen-Niemann Affair

by Albert Silver
9/8/2022 – In the last few days the chess world has been in enormous upheaval after the World Champion Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup in protest after three rounds, with an unspoken accusation of cheating of the player who had defeated him, US rising star Hans Niemann. Lines were drawn, accusations made and defenses stated. Here is a full overview of both sides of this explosive controversy.

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It started all quite quietly. The classical stage of the Sinquefield Cup began with a few small surprises, with notably the American junior on the rise, Hans Niemann, being granted a wild card after Richard Rapport could not make it for Covid reasons. A rare and golden opportunity to brush shoulders (or knock heads as it turned out) with the greatest players of the day, including none other than the world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen.

Who is Hans Niemann?

For many outsiders, the name did not even ring a bell before all the ruckus, and understandably so. While prodigies such as Hikaru Nakamura, Sam Sevian and others, rose the rungs over a period of many years, giving fans plenty of time to acquaint themselves with their names, 19-year-old Hans Niemann's rise was nothing short of meteoric. 

Consider his ratings according to the FIDE lists:

September 2020 - 2465 FIDE
September 2021 - 2609 FIDE
September 2022 - 2688 FIDE

Extraordinary and completely unprecedented! Almost unprecedented. Though not exactly on the same level, one current player, playing in the Sinquefield Cup no less, experienced a similar late bloom blast off in his rating: Levon Aronian. The great Armenian player, who peaked at 2835 FIDE, was actually an unimpressive 2581 FIDE just days before his 21st birthday, and not in the Top 100 players at all, yet would be world No. 3 at 2756 FIDE just three and a half years later.

With an elevated rating to start with, for ratings purposes, a lot of games would need to be played to raise it so much, and needless to say Hans Niemann was not idle. In those two years, he played roughly 360 rated classical games, or a game every other day on average, and this does not include rapid events or other! It is no exaggeration to say he was eating and breathing chess.

The Stage is set

"A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!"

- William Shakespeare (Henry V, Prologue)

The tournament started very much as one would have expected. In round one, Magnus Carlsen faced his would-be World Championship rival Ian Nepomniachtchi (would-be because Carlsen has declined to defend his title, as we know) in a fascinating struggle in which the Norwegian player showed enormous will and eventually broke his opponent down in a masterful display. Without even looking at any of the other games or boards, for the pundits it seemed to herald yet another title for his ever-growing collection.

Newcomer Hans Niemann faced Levon Aronian, and though he achieved a significant edge, in which conversion was not obvious, he failed to reel in the full point. A promising start and a sign he might not be the pushover one might fear in his first introduction to the elite. 

In round two, Carlsen drew against Aronian, while 'Nepo' bounced back with an impressive win over Firouzja. Hans Niemann also surprised with a win over Mamedyarov, though much of it was self-inflicted as the hyper-aggressive Azeri forced a line of attack and defense from which he emerged lost.

Round three was to see Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann finally meet, and by now it was anticipated with rubbing hands of glee by the spectators. Niemann was obviously excited to face his hero but Carlsen was also looking forward to it, having recently stated in an interview that he was anxious to play the new generation of players and show them who was boss. 

Whatever his plans, they quickly went awry as his opening choice backfired and he emerged in a slightly worse endgame by move 17. This was obviously not the outcome he or anyone had envisioned, but it was what it was and he would now have to suffer through it and content himself with a draw. Whether rattled by his unwelcome situation, or his opponent's refusal to just timidly shake hands, the World Champion's play began to degrade until a horrific blunder 28. g4?? left him with a lost game. He tried hard to keep a dream of a draw alive, but Niemann's play was impeccable and he converted the gift into a full point.

If the chess world was stunned then, the next day reserved far bigger reasons to be so. As the live transmission started, security of the players was noticeably beefed up as they walked in, and the commentators prepared to see the next games. Magnus was late, with no news of what was going on, and then it was announced: Magnus Carlsen had withdrawn from the tournament, having informed the organizers, and had posted a provocative and cryptic tweet:

The provocativeness was not the message of the withdrawal itself, however surprising, it was the link to a quote by famed football coach Mourinho saying, "If I speak I am in big trouble, big trouble, and I don't want to be in big trouble."

The chess world and internet went crazy.

The accusations

As Carlsen had never before in his career withdrawn from a tournament, it was safe to assume that he must have had a very good reason for this drastic step. And although the world No. 1 did not state it openly, hiding behind the very words of Mourinho: he cannot say what he thinks because of the trouble it might cause him. The implications did not need Sherlock Holmes to know what he meant. It was his opinion that he had been victim of cheating, and he would not even deign to continue in the tournament in such circumstances.

For 48 hours social media and the internet at large had a field day. Players at the tournament were asked about the withdrawal by Carlsen, without explicitly citing the reason all knew to be the case (Magnus was in good health and not sick, so that was not a viable dodge). Some players visibly sided with Magnus on this, whether because they just believed him or because they shared his point-of-view, such as a smirking Ian Nepomniachtchi who declared Niemann's play had been "more than impressive".

Others after round four, such as Levon Aronian, were less quick to reach such conclusions and urged level-headedness and an open mind.

One of the earliest and most visible critics was elite player and streamer-extraordinaire Hikaru Nakamura who during his stream was unequivocal about his position on the matter. The main points were summed up in a YouTube video posted in his channel, citing the various issues he had and what he perceived and thought.

And here is a round-by-round summary of the scandal, and the opinion of top players and officials to what has transpired.

Specifically you can listen to the opinions of the people involved. Most statements were elicited by official commentator in Saint Louis, GM Alejandro Ramirez:

  • 5'30" – Tony Rich (Executive Director of the Saint Louis Chess Club)
  • 6'56" – Levon Aronian
  • 7'54" – Fabiano Caruana
  • 8'23" – Ian  Nepomniachtchi
  • 9'02" – Hikaru Nakamura
  • 10'34" – Hans Niemann's reply
  • 12'55" – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
  • 13'54" –  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
  • 16'29" – Fabiano Caruana
  • 17'39" – Wesley So
  • 19'30" – Hans Niemann, full statement

Banned by Chess.com for cheating

Among the points Nakamura brought up were Niemann's documented cheating issues in the past. He had twice been banned by Chess.com, though allowed to rejoin the site thereafter. These are public knowledge and not open to debate he pointed out, whatever one may think of the current scandal.

Doesn't analyze like a 2700

Another damning point in his opinion was the failure of Hans Niemann to properly analyze and present moves of a standard he expected of a 2700 player in a post-game interview. He explained that these moves and suggestions were not those of a player supposedly of 2700 strength, implying therefore that the rating is fraudulent and not representative of Niemann's true strength. Furthermore, the moves all seemed to be improvised and not from his over-the-board play.

Removed from Fight Chess

Nakamura's oft-rival in one-minute chess games, Canadian GM Eric Hansen, said that he had removed Niemann from his Fight Chess events due to cheating suspicions. It was not clear whether he had confronted the American player with this, or simply taken him off the roster of possible invitees.

Where is his accent?

Yes, as frivolous and strange an entry into this list as that may seem, Nakamura repeatedly wondered at the lack of a distinct American accent by Niemann in his interviews at the Sinquefield Cup. The only reason this is brought up here is because it was actually the first thing Niemann addressed later.

The Mystery of the Opening Preparation

A powerful issue that was debated heatedly online was regarding Niemann's claims of how he prepared such an obscure line against Carlsen. He had even claimed to have analyzed the key moves that very morning, hence his familiarity with it. Niemann cited a game by Magnus played in London some years before, but no one could find this mythical reference. Since a critical and difficult move had been played very quickly, it was pointed out as evidence he was lying and had outside help.

If Nakamura seems to be cited more than anyone, it is because his audience is the largest, and he was the most explicit in his comments, not contenting himself with dodgy tweets or suggestive comments. However, nor did he openly accuse Hans, however transparent his feelings on the topic may seem, and he cited the various issues that bothered him in the entire debacle, which are no doubt echoed by many others.

As such, the Internet and Social Media rest their case, your honor.

The Defense

In Internet terms, it was an eternity in coming, and anyone hoping to see Hans Niemann address this the next day was in for a disappointment. He analyzed his game against Firouzja in his usual way, and seemed quite oblivious to what was actually being said about him or the reasons for Carlsen's withdrawal. He joked, "I am glad I beat him before he left".

It would be a day more in the coming, and while Niemann had his fair share of online defenders such as former Challenger Nigel Short, to name but a few, there is no question that the two largest contributors to his case were GM Jacob Aagaard and Hans Niemann himself.

By now the level of mudslinging and the smear campaign at large had reached a point in which Hans Niemann's very ability to play at a high level was seriously cast in doubt. Enter GM Jacob Aagaard.

Jacob Aaagard's account

GM Aagaard is well-respected as one of the top chess coaches today, having worked with promising juniors to players already past 2700. He is also a profuse author with many fantastic chess training books (this is the author's personal opinion). On September 6th he posted a long and detailed defense of Hans Niemann based on his personal interactions with the young player from precisely the moment he began his astonishing rise. It was titled 'Paranoia and insanity' and presented impressions of Hans Niemann as a person, as a player, and as a talent.

While you are encouraged to read his entire post, here are two excerpts that highlight his character and his ability according to Aagaard.

His personal impressions

"First of all, my personal relationship with Hans Niemann: I met him at a camp in St Louis in 2019. He was about 2450 and clearly a socially awkward character that had a feeling that all eyes were on him all the time. But he was smart, funny, and likeable. It was a good camp and we had some laughs. At the time he was talking about quitting chess a lot, but it was clear that the issue was he cared so much and had not found a mental position that worked for him.

We were sort of in contact on and off over the next two years. He was 2500 18 months ago and playing all the time. His attitude had changed. Instead of being scared of admitting that he wanted to be great, he now gave it his all."

Is he really talented?

While the above certainly helps put into perspective some of his over-the-top self-belief comments, denial or lack of objectivity could lead to similar statements by a player. So what does this veteran coach actually think?

"Hans was difficult to train. I tried to do calculation and endgame training with him (he had requested endgame training). At first, I showed exercises from recent games (last 18 months) that I really liked. He knew them ALL. I was astonished by his memory. I was astonished by his intuition. Both were off the charts for what I have seen training Shankland, Gelfand, and other 2600+ and a few 2700s."

This served as a powerful testimony by a professional coach whose experience with players of all strengths and integrity are unquestioned. However, after the fifth round, the commentator GM Alejandro Ramirez, who had led the player interviews throughout, sprung the question that needed to be asked, "We've got to speak about the elephant in the room."

Hans Niemann speaks out

Whatever one's stance on all this, one cannot but take one's hat off to the impressive defense presented by Hans regarding the many issues. Hans addressed Hikaru Nakamura's video and commented quite directly and obviously, having seen it and been equally bothered by it.

Hans Niemann's impassioned defense and love of chess left no one indifferent or unaffected, and GM Peter Svidler was so moved he declined to add words. 

His accent

Hans opened his comments with what was said about his accent. He noted that having spent years living in Europe, surrounded by people who spoke poor English, the change was a consequence of his environment, and might easily change again if he stayed in the US now. This explanation is actually valid and not even terribly unusual, though some people are less prone to it than others.

The Chess.com ban for cheating

This was a very important issue and one that Niemann faced head on. He admitted that he had indeed twice been banned and had come clean on them with Chess.com. The first time had been when he was a 12-year-old boy, and one he was embarrassed to this day about, but he had learned from. The second time was at age 16 playing some random games, unaffiliated with any tournament to jack up his rating to play stronger players. He confessed it to IM Danny Rensch who issued him a clean slate, but decided that he needed to redeem himself not just to others but to himself. After this Hans began to dedicate himself entirely to chess and over-the-board play.

"I have never ever in my life cheated in an over-the-board game. I do not want any misrepresentation. I am proud of myself that I learned from that mistake and now have
given everything to chess. I have sacrificed everything for chess and I do everything I can to improve.

I know that my actions have consequences and I suffered those consequences during that time. I completely stepped away from a very lucrative streaming career, I stopped playing at all events and I lost a lot of close friendships and relationships that meant a lot to me.

I decided to myself that the only way to make up for my mistake was to prove to myself and to prove to others that I could win myself. That has been my mission and that is why I've lived in a suitcase for two years, that is why I have played 260 games in one year, that is why I have been training 12 hours a day: because I have something to prove."

Opening preparation

He explained that he works with patterns more than precise moves and the general ideas of g3 and the Catalan were seen in games he viewed as he prepared, one leading to another.

"At this point since it's not a direct transposition I should obviously take some time to make sure that the position is going to be transposed properly here."

His extended thinking during his game against the World Champion was both due to who his opponent was, and his desire for extra verification that the transpositions were not going to lead him to a disaster.

"I'm spending extra time to make sure that the transposition is correct because it's the world champion."

Regarding his confusion on the actual source game and location, Nigel Short had this to say:

Analyzing like a 2700

Hikaru Nakamura was visibly bothered by what he deemed to be post-game analysis unworthy of a 2700 player, declaring in no uncertain terms that no 2700 player would analyze like this. This opinion is not universally shared and not only did GM Aagaard contradict it by writing in his post:

"When Nakamura is saying that no 2700 calculates this poorly, he is flat out wrong. I can also show positional mistakes from Nakamura that undermines the credibility of the playing strength of the former No. 2. Mistakes that Hans would simply not believe a GM had made. Because they are his strengths and Nakamura’s weaknesses."

But he is not alone, and Nigel Short points out:

"Chess is my entire life and I've sacrificed everything for this game, and I'm willing to do anything to prove myself and to improve at chess. (...) Chess is everything to me." 

- Hans Niemann (2022)

The evidence

While the debate on right or wrong, guilty or not guilty, has been raging for days now, two things remain quite missing. One is a proper declaration and position by Magnus Carlsen. He started this affair and massive storm in the chess world, not to mention the legions attacking Niemann, and as a result should own up to his words and make his position clear. It was not merely a powerful condemnation of a young player on the rise, but his withdrawal from the tournament is an unprecedented act that should be justified.

The second and most obvious missing piece here is any shred of genuine evidence to condemn Hans Niemann. The fact is that while some pointed out Hans Niemann's excellent play and win against Magnus Carlsen as a source of suspicion, more significant was the poor quality of the World Champion's play against Hans. As a colleague was quick to point out, "with those mistakes any 2700 would have beaten Carlsen." In other words, Magnus lost the game through his own doing, and not as a result of god-like moves unleashed by his opponent.

The Consequences

There are few things more brutal and unfeeling than an Internet lynch mob out for blood. It is perfectly fine to harbor doubts, and feelings, but to condemn someone without any form of proper evidence is something we would hope we were above. As an American, the concept of innocent until proven guilty is one that is taken to heart and lived by, and one cannot but wonder at how damaging this can be for the career of a young player making waves, who instead of celebrating the greatest moment of his career is forced to defend it as if it were a shameful crime that needed explaining. 

"You know you spend your entire life looking up to someone and then you meet them and then you know my dream came true. I lived my dream for a day beating Magnus and then all this happened."

According to Hans Niemann, there are already consequences as he was informed he was not only being removed from the Global Chess Championship organized by Chess.com, but his account had also been summarily suspended.

Let us hope that cooler heads prevail, but one thing is also true: The controversy has single-handedly made certain the entire world knows who Hans Niemann is. Hans said that in his life he was most fueled by people telling him he was not good enough or unworthy, and the desire to prove them wrong.

"Spite has been a strong fuel for me. When I was starting to play chess in the Netherlands my school teacher told me I wasn't good enough and that certainly fueled me. I've always been one to prove people wrong and this absolutely fuels me and makes me want to win the tournament even more."

One cannot imagine a greater motivator, however dark in origin, than what he has undergone now.

Links


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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GR2 GR2 9/19/2022 09:46
Niemann was asked "whats next?", in his last interview at the Sinquefield Cup. I am sure his reply did not mention the Generation tournament just started. Now he is playing in an online tournament which includes Carlsen. What's going on? Why would Carlsen play in this tournament if Niemann is playing.? What's happened?
A Alekhine A Alekhine 9/18/2022 02:29
Very fine article, and it does not leave Carlsen looking good.
SKAcz SKAcz 9/13/2022 08:00
Well chess is Carlsen world and online chess also more or less,
and as said companies make own rules.

Btw.
Aug 24, 2022 | 19:14by chess24 staff
Play Magnus Group receives Chess.com offer

Play Magnus Group (PMG), that includes chess24, has received an offer from Chess.com that may see the two companies join forces. The offer values PMG at around $82.5 million and will take around two months to finalise, subject to shareholder approval and other closing conditions. Magnus Carlsen commented, “now we are entering a new era, and the combination of these two companies creates opportunities for the game of chess that no-one has imagined before”.
Arminio12 Arminio12 9/11/2022 08:58
@ Tauno. Well, that’s that then. Of course, it doesn’t mean that their actions are okay. Perhaps legally, but certainly not morally. Now I’m not a law expert, but if I were Niemann, I would try and figure out if there is indeed nothing that can be done. Companies can make their own rules, but if these imply that certain rights are violated (e.g. the right to be heard before any action is taken) a court might still decide that they are in fact unreasonable and decide against the company. Secondly, even though the ban is completely ‘legal’ by Chess.com’s own rules, it may not be so legal to terminate someone’s account in such a way that it causes tremendous ‘collateral damage’. As we said before: the timing was inexplicable and contributed considerably to the defamation of Niemann. His reputation, his career, etc. are on the line, and he cannot remedy the situation as long as those who started their campaign against him refuse to say why and on what grounds they did what they did. Quite a few rights being violated, I guess. Not sure though whether there is a case to be won here.
dougforkes dougforkes 9/11/2022 07:23
Chess.com may without cause terminate an account
Did they?
tauno tauno 9/11/2022 06:04
For all rules, policies, and agreements on Chess.com please read this page: http://www.chess.com/legal

Anyway, Chess.com has in no way violated its own rules by banning Niemann. The legal rules on Chess.com are so clear and unambiguous that they should leave no room for interpretation. Pay particular attention to this part:

”Termination

You agree that Chess.com may, with or without cause, and without prior notice, immediately terminate your Chess.com account, any associated email address, and access to the Service. Chess.com may terminate with or without cause at any time and effective immediately, at Chess.com’s sole discretion, including but not limited to Member’s failure to conform with these terms and conditions of the Agreement. Compliance with this Agreement or the Other Policies does not constitute a promise or guarantee of future access to Chess.com or to the Service. ”
Jacob woge Jacob woge 9/11/2022 05:38
Where would we be without social media, ladies. Does a downward spiral rotate anti-clockwise on the southern hemisphere?
nielslau nielslau 9/11/2022 05:12
By now it is fair to assume, that Hans Niemann did not cheat during the game. There is no real indication for that, the moves were fairly normal, while Carlsen did not play up to his best. What might have disturbed Carlsen could be that HN was prepared and ready for his rare opening choice, as if HN had been in the know in advance. A bit of a shock for Carlsen, followed by thoughts of suspicion that somebody from his camp had been careless, or somehow his analysis place or internet communication was bugged. So MC played under that influence, and decided that he had to find the potential leak, before he could continue the tournament.
This is to me a plausible outcome, and also the best honorable explanation, taking the heat out of the cheating accusations, so life can go on. This scenario is of course subject to whatever facts might further a different story.
dougforkes dougforkes 9/11/2022 04:47
Best analysis I have seen to date. Innocent until proven guilty.

Carlsen knows very well the firestorm he has started. It is unfair and cowardly to remain silent
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/11/2022 12:35
Why do I (and others) think Carlsen insinuated that Niemann cheated, without actually accusing him:

1. The tweet he made, as far as I know was originally an insinuation of cheating.
2. When Carlsen has withdrawn, the organizers of the tournament mentioned they were okay with postponing transmission by 15 minutes, which strongly implies that cheating as a suspicion popped up. The fact that they were mentioning this in the context of Carlsen's withdrawal and their attempt to convince Carlsen to continue to play is very telling.
3. Carlsen never denied that he believed Niemann was cheating, while, if he did not think so, then he would have very likely clarified this, as it is Niemann's professional reputation at stake. So, if Carlsen didn't believe Niemann was cheating, then it would be a cruel thing not to clarify this.
tauno tauno 9/11/2022 12:08
@ Arminio12. I got it. So Chess.com has secret evidence of something we don't know the extent of. Niemann may have said something that contradicts the evidence, but it cannot have anything to do with the ban because he said it only after the ban.

P.S. 1. We should not forget that Chess.com is a company, and the purpose of a company is to do what? Profit for it’s owners?

P.S. 2. Carlsen's intention with his tweet was of course that we would understand implicitly what he could not say directly. And it seems his message has reached most of us. - If he suspected that we had misunderstood him, surely he would have corrected it already, right?
Marozka Marozka 9/11/2022 11:06
Cheating insinuations aside, Carlsen needs to explain why he withdrew costing Niemann a full point in the race for tournament victory. Illness would be a fair reason of course.
Arminio12 Arminio12 9/11/2022 10:05
@ Tauno. I must have been confused by your suggestion that Chess.com banned Niemann because he "lied" about his cheating record. Only afterwards did I realise the reversed chronology in this. Niemann made his statements in the interview with Ramirez after round 5. By then Chess.com had already banned him, as it one of the things he complains about in the interview. In other words, he hadn't yet "lied" when they banned him.
I fully agree about the timing issue. As I said before, it is just devastating for Chess.com. Of course, it can't be a coincidence: it doesn't take a great mind to anticipate their timing would be perceived as inexplicable. The fact that they went through with it anyway, without hearing Niemann first, without explaining things or supplying evidence, is telling. Either they have a strong case, and then it is inexplicable that Niemann is still in the tournament, or they have not, which would mean they are way out of line against Niemann. Awkward indeed. Let's hope, as you say, that "the pressure of the chess community" will lead to some answers soon.
tauno tauno 9/11/2022 02:32
@Arminion12. In other words, Chess.com has also evidence about something bad that Niemann has done. It can be about cheating at Chess.com (a few years ago, as far as we know), but it can also be about something else (but what?). I do not believe it can be about cheating with Carlsen - if there was any evidence, he would absolutely not be allowed to continue to play in the tournament.

It sounds strange (in my ears) that Chess.com banned Niemann BEFORE he had been given an opportunity to defend himself against the accusations by Chess.com. But the most strange thing is the timing. Why in earth to ban Niemann just now, in the middle of the tournament, after the game with Carlsen. Can it really be just a coincidence?

So far, the evidence seems to be a big secret and it’s only shared with Niemann. Fortunately the pressure from the chess community is overwhelming, so I think we’ll soon get, if not the whole truth, at least some more information on this matter - either by Chess.com or by Niemann himself (he has got all the details now).

P.S. This whole situation is very awkward for everyone involved, but mostly for Chess.com. I think.
Arminio12 Arminio12 9/10/2022 11:29
@ Tauno. I don't read the statement that way, especially because it says "detailed evidence ... concerning our decision, including information that contradicts his statements ....". The evidence "includes" but is not limited to the information meant. The fact (if so) that Niemann minimalised his cheating history (or "lied about it" as you call it) can hardly be a reason for the ban, and if it were, it was certainly not the only one. So far, no evidence has been presented with respect to Niemann cheating in the Sinquefield Cup or cheating OTB. Seems very unlikely that he should be punished for trying to look a bit better than he actually deserved.
Arminio12 Arminio12 9/10/2022 11:10
@ hansj. As I said, and as you again fail to understand, Carlsen is not the issue. As he cannot be blamed for things that he may or may not have done, you pretend there is no problem. But there is, and a very serious one at that. It is Niemanns reputation, career, etc. that is on the line. No concern of Carlsen’s, or yours, apparently, as long as he is left out of the picture. Insinuations are fine against Niemann, though he may be innocent, but not done against Carlsen, though there is no shred of doubt that he has at least some responsibility in the defamation of the young American.
You also imply that everything apart from your two facts is just guessing, speculating, insinuating. That is blatantly wrong. First, all that guessing etc. is largely the result of what Carlsen did and did not do. His Mourinho-meme (also a fact) suggested foul play. He left the building – nobody followed (another fact) – and so almost wordlessly put Niemann in the line of fire (another fact). Anti-cheating measures (Hey, did Carlsen say anyting about cheating?) were stepped up, but no cheating was discovered (again a fact).
Some facts about Niemann, too. Following Carlsen’s departure, he is suspected of cheating. The people who could clear his name (as they don't seem to have any proof) refuse to take any step whatsoever in that direction. Chess.com specifically choose to point out that Niemann minimalises his cheating history, but deliberately fail to comment on what they have against him now, echoing Carlsen’s position.
A non-exhaustive list of facts you ignore.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 9/10/2022 07:27
@ tauno, excellent analysis.
tauno tauno 9/10/2022 06:32
@Arminio12, the quoted tweet from Chess.com was for informational purpose only; some of the commentators was asking for it.

And what about my opinion? Well, it seems that Niemann’s cheating - in the past - was NOT the cause to ban him. Chess.com com is saying that what Niemann SAID about his cheating (in the past) was the cause to ban him: Niemann gave “information that contradicts his statements regarding the amount and seriousness of his cheating” at Chess.com.

It’s clear that Chess.com knows that Niemann must know that he has been cheating more than he had admitted publicly. So the cause to ban Niemann was that he lied, according to Chess.com. (It would have been an easy solution to say that tell the truth, or otherwise you will get banned.)

Personally I strongly believe that Chess.com was absolutely sure that Niemann cheated in his game against Carlsen and banned him for that reason - timing again. Afterwards they understood that probably they had wrong. But is not always so easy to apologize, so they had to find another explanation.

But the good thing is that Niemann has now an easy way out: he has only to to “admit” that he has been cheating at every single game (or whatever they want) to please Chess.com, so the can remove the ban. :-)

P.S. Nakamura is a nice and funny guy; he can say anything without getting into trouble.
hansj hansj 9/10/2022 05:01
@Arminio12
You are quite right. What Carlsen told the organisers we do not know. And it really does not make sense guessing here.

What we do know is this:
1) Carlsen left the building
2) He has not in public accused anyone of anything

So let us stick with these facts and stop guessing and insinuating.
Arminio12 Arminio12 9/10/2022 02:45
@ hansj. Ridiculing things is a very poor way to reply. Carlsen must have claimed something to justify his departure. You admit you “do not know what Carlsen told anyone”, yet you claim that he never accused Niemann of anything. Clearly, you must be the one with inside information, then. Let us stick to the facts. We know that Carlsen made no direct, public accusations and that he does not bother to confirm or contradict the suspicions that he quite deliberately made possible. As to the role of Chess.com, they did ban Niemann right after his game with Carlsen and his departure. Either their action was related to this, and then their statement can only be read as a cheating accusation, or it was not, and then their timing was completely off. Moreover, whether there is a suspicion, still unproven no less, against Niemann of cheating in the Sinquefield Cup, is in fact not their concern or their business, especially without proof. The fact that the organisers apparently saw no proof, no reason to take punitive measures against Niemann, begs the question why Chess.com think they should do so instead. Looks like the hand of Carlsen. Now that is something, I’ll admit, we do not know for sure. Finally, you totally fail to understand that Carlsen is not the real issue here, Niemann is. High time to change your tune.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/10/2022 01:41
@hansj sure, the organizers are happy, as you claim. I'm sure they were eagerly anticipating Carlsen's withdrawal...
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 9/10/2022 12:47
If someone keeps on repeating himself, quotes out of context and doesn't react to what he has no answer for, what do we call him?
Of course I'm not calling anyone a troll.
hansj hansj 9/10/2022 12:05
@Arminio12
"What he told the organisers of the Sinquefield Cup or the people of Chess.com, may be an entirely different matter."
I do not know what Carlsen told anyone.
But you have inside information, I understand? I do not.
Could you reveal that information or is it secret?
Arminio12 Arminio12 9/10/2022 11:54
@ hansj: Maybe it's time you got your facts right. Carlsen never PUBLICLY claimed that Niemann cheated. What he told the organisers of the Sinquefield Cup or the people of Chess.com, may be an entirely different matter. Also, he deliberately chooses not to do or say anything to get Niemann off the hook, so he implicitly confirms the suspicion of cheating. Lastly, Chess.com's statement makes quite clear that their decision has to do with cheating. The only way they can know anything about that related to the Carlsen-Niemann game is through Carlsen, which is quite telling for his views on the matter or on Niemann. Your "Carlsen never claimed..." mantra is a cowardly excuse to tell everybody to shut up, as if Carlsen is the only one involved here, and to justify that someone who may be innocent is professionally etc. "damaged beyond repair". I could quote Orwell, here: all chess players are equal, but some (like Carlsen) are more equal than others.
hansj hansj 9/10/2022 11:23
@ConwyCastle
Carlsen never claimed that Niemann cheated.
And he does not owe you an explanation.
ConwyCastle ConwyCastle 9/10/2022 11:03
Carlsen should absolutely make a clear statement. There doesn't appear to be any evidence that Niemann cheated over the board.
Arminio12 Arminio12 9/10/2022 10:34
@ Tauno. As you just quote the statement by Chess.com's Chief Chess Officer Danny Rensch, I don't know what you think of it, so I can't be sure whether we'll agree or disagree on this. There is one question Danny Rensch and Chess.com do not answer, and it is completely devastating for them: Niemann's "What's with the timing?"
chamishavolkov chamishavolkov 9/10/2022 10:03
@Cizia, I didn't hear that French GM, but I thought of the exact same thing based on what was made public. If you know what line your opponent is preparing against you, you can focus your prep and go deeper in exactly the lines you need. Doing that on scale (combined with the fact that he isn't untalented) would also explain his supernatural rise over the past two years.
hansj hansj 9/10/2022 09:46
@Frits Fritschy
Yes, it surely would be interesting to know the reason why Carlsen left.
But he is under no obligation to explain that to you or to me. It is none of our business.
He obviously cleared things with the organisers, and they are satisfied.
eric b eric b 9/10/2022 02:47
@hansj
Again, you are correct concerning the facts. However, I still don't think that there is anything wrong with speculating on a scenario that is very plausibly true, that being that Carlsen thinks Hans Niemann cheated. One point that I would make is that if Carlsen really doesn't think Hans cheated, he would at least issue a statement saying so, if only to save a fellow GM from having his chess career unfairly damaged. Such a statement may be something like the following "I left the tournament early for reasons that had nothing to do with cheating, however, I will give the chess world more clarification as to why I did at a future date". This at least would stop much of the very speculation that you are concerned about.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/10/2022 01:09
It's sad to see off-the-board schemes to destroy chess players. If one cheated (and I do not mean Niemann, as I have not seen evidence about his alleged cheating), then the person deliberately deprives the other from a possibly hard-earned success. If someone who didn't cheat is accused of cheating (and I do not say Niemann didn't cheat, as I do not factually know that either), then the person deprives the other from his hard earned success and damages his reputation.

I would not like either Niemann or Carlsen to be banned for this scandal, (unless the alleged cheating is proven, of course, in which case Niemann should face harsh punishment by FIDE and tournament organizers), nor people belonging to ethnic groups, or voicing political views or believing (or not believing) in religions.

Chess used to be the sport of wood pushers, now it increasingly looks like a soap opera and I'm really disturbed to see that some people are indeed voicing the idea of banning players. Carlsen has been a world champion since 2013 and he has played great chess. I do not like him as a person, since he damaged the world championship, the single most important event, but I would like to see him play chess. A brilliant idea does not lose its value by the sheer fact that I do not really sympathize with its author.

Maybe Carlsen is going to speak up and apologize or explain his exact position.
tauno tauno 9/10/2022 12:42
Quote from Twitter by Chess.com:
https://twitter.com/chesscom/status/1568010971616100352

"Dear Chess Community,

The last few days have been tumultuous for many in the chess community. At this time, we have
reached out to Hans Niemann to explain our decision to privately remove him from Chess.com
and our events. We have shared detailed evidence with him concerning our decision, including
information that contradicts his statements regarding the amount and seriousness of his
cheating on Chess.com. We have invited Hans to provide an explanation and response with the
hope of finding a resolution where Hans can again participate on Chess.com. We want nothing
more than to see the best chess players in the world succeed in the greatest events. We will
always act to protect the integrity of the game that we all love.

Danny Rensch
Chief Chess Officer"
hansj hansj 9/10/2022 12:19
@eric b
Let us stick with the facts of the case, and they are:
1) Carlsen left the building
2) He has not accused anyone of anything
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 9/10/2022 12:09
Arzi, I just wrote Carlsen has some questions to answer. He can do that at his own volition, but there are certainly grounds to force him to do so.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 9/9/2022 11:44
You must be catholic, Jacob.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 9/9/2022 11:36
Why?

“Well I guess that’s just - a mystery.”
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 9/9/2022 11:26
Are we seeing the unraveling of Carlsen? First he refuses to defend his world championship title. Then he withdraws from the Sinquefield cup. He said he wanted to challenge himself against the younger generation. Well, he got his chance, but didn't handle the outcome very well.

@ChessSpawnVermont, I'd also like additional clarification as to what is going on with chess.com.

And what did he do before, supposedly the games he cheated on when 16 yo were unrated online games?

Great information by Frits Fritschy

@Jack Nayer, if there is reasonable suspicion they can seize Neimann's electronic devices and check the content, web history, etc. I doubt if Carlsen would have had files online to be in a position to be hacked, or if he would have had weak security.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 9/9/2022 10:58
Chessdrummer,
Everything is possible when speculating. Why did Carlsen say he wants to come back next year?
chessdrummer chessdrummer 9/9/2022 09:29
I find one of the biggest problems (and it was missed in this article) was what the Mourinho meme was about. It wasn't the words, "If I speak I am in big trouble, big trouble, and I don't want to be in big trouble." That is not the crux of the tweet and it is actually secondary. The issue was that Mourinho had accused the referees of cheating. Carlsen understands the reference although about 90% of the people commenting on the tweet don't get the connection.
Jack Nayer Jack Nayer 9/9/2022 08:41
hansj: read the second sentence.