Chess superstar Magnus Carlsen has for the first time openly accused American player Hans Niemann of cheating, saying the rising star had done so more recently and more often than he previously admitted.
The chess world has been drowned in controversy for three weeks by the Carlsen-Niemann scandal, since the five-time world champion withdrew from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in the United States after losing to 19-year-old Niemann.
“I know that my actions have frustrated many in the chess community. I’m frustrated. I want to play chess. I want to continue to play chess at the highest level in the best events,” Carlsen said in a statement released on Monday.
My statement regarding the last few weeks. pic.twitter.com/KY34DbcjLo
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) September 26, 2022
The 31-year-old Norwegian’s abrupt withdrawal last week from a match against Niemann in the Julius Baer Generation Cup online tournament reignited the furore.
“I believe that Niemann has cheated more, and more recently, than he has publicly admitted. His over the board progress has been unusual,” Carlsen said.
He did not specify the exact form of the alleged cheating, but added there was “more that I would like to say”.
Niemann has not yet commented on the allegations.
Niemann has acknowledged cheating online twice, when he was 12 and 16, but says he has never played fraudulently in a face-to-face match and is even willing to play nude to prove his good faith.
In early September, the chess platform chess.com banned the American for cheating on the site.
According to Carlsen, Niemann in their matchup at Sinquefield Cup, did not seem “tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as a black in a way I think only a few players can do”.
He called cheating in chess “an existential threat to the game” and said: “I don’t want to play against people that have cheated repeatedly in the past.”
“I hope the truth on this matter comes out, whatever it may be,” he added.