The two were playing an online match Monday in the Julius Baer Generation Cup, using the Chess24 platform via Microsoft Teams, when Carlsen’s webcam suddenly turned off while he was on the clock for his second move.
“What happened? That’s it?” exclaimed Petro Leko, grandmaster who provided an analysis of the nutrition.
“We’ll try to get an update on that,” said fellow analyst and international master Tania Sachdev. “Magnus Carlsen just resigned. Got up and left. Turned off his camera, and that’s what we know now.”
“Wow – speechless, huh?” Leko said.
Carlsen, 31, led the tournament in the early going at the time. The Julius Baer Generation Cup is the seventh event of the nine-tournament Champions Chess Tour, which runs from February to November. Carlsen is in first place in the series, while Niemann ranks 16th.
Carlsen and Niemann competed this month in the Sinquefield Cup, a St. Louis-based, in-person event on the Grand Chess Tour, when Niemann defeated the five-time world champion. Adding to the massive level of upset was that Carlsen was on a 53-match unbeaten streak in over-the-board tournaments and held a significant ranking advantage over Niemann.
The next day, Carlsen withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup, saying in a tweet that he always enjoyed competing there and hoped to return in the future.
What got the chess world excited, however, was that Carlsen added to his tweet a video of famous football manager José Mourinho saying in 2021: “I really prefer not to talk. If I talk, I’m in big trouble.”
The tweet gave the impression that Carlsen was alluding to some bad behavior from Niemann, who was enjoying himself meteoric rise in the sport. Speculation that Niemann cheated only increased after Hikaru Nakamura, a 34-year-old American grandmaster who has a massive following of his own. Twitch streams, offered his take shortly after Carlsen’s withdrawal.
“This is probably something I shouldn’t say, but I’ll say this anyway, which is: There was a period of over six months where Hans didn’t play any prize money tournaments. Chess.com,” Nakamura said. “That’s the only thing I’m going to say, and that’s the only thing I’m going to say on this subject.”
Nakamura added on his Twitch stream: “I think Magnus believes that Hans is probably cheating. … He’s stepping back to make the point without publicly making the point.”
Niemann, who was submitted thorough scan for devices that could help him cheat when he arrived for another match at the St. Louis tournament, later admitted to having cheated several years before on Chess.com.
On September 5th an interview with grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez that was shared online by the Saint Louis Chess Club, which hosted the Sinquefield Cup, Niemann said his cheating. Chess.com happened when he was 12 – “I was just a kid” – and 16. Of the latter episode, he said he wanted to get higher ratings so he could “play stronger players” and was keen at the time to “do anything to grow up. my stream.”
Describing his unethical behavior as an “absolutely ridiculous mistake”, Niemann claimed that since then, he has “never in my life” cheated.
“I’m proud of myself,” he said, “that I learned from that mistake and now gave everything to chess. … I was confronted, I confessed, and this is the single biggest mistake of my life and I am utterly ashamed.”
“I’m not going to let Chess.com, I’m not going to let Magnus Carlsen, I’m not going to let Hikaru Nakamura – the three possibly biggest entities in chess – simply slander my reputation,” Niemann added, “because the question is: Why would they remove me from Chess .com right after I beat Magnus? What’s with the time?”
“We shared detailed evidence with him about our decision, including information that contradicts his statements about the amount and seriousness of his cheating at Chess.com,” the website. stated. “We have invited Hans to provide an explanation and answer in hopes of finding a resolution where Hans can once again participate in Chess.com. We want nothing more than to see the best chess players in the world succeed in the biggest events. We will always try to protect the integrity of the game we all love.”
The “tumultuous” situation in the chess community, such as Chess.com put itstrengthened when Niemann proposed to “strip completely naked” if it would help prove that he didn’t use any tools to help him cheat.
Then came Monday’s highly anticipated Carlsen-Niemann rematch. It ended quickly, but Carlsen’s swift, statement-making resignation ensured that this conflict was far from over.