The ongoing chess cheating scandal won’t die down, and it’s starting to look like the rest of us are just pawns shuffled from one accusation to another.
Earlier this week, during a preliminary game against chess master Hans Niemann in the ongoing Julius Baer Generation Cup, which is played through the Chess24 online platform, Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen discarded both the game and the stream after only the second move. It was a sudden shock to both the hosts and the chess community, and it seemed to imply that he continued to protest against Niemann’s participation in the tournament.
He did not give statements at the time, but on Wednesday he broke his silence to the Chess24 stream. He declined to speak specifically and actually make any real allegations of cheating, adding “but people can draw their own conclusion and they certainly have. I have to say I’m very impressed with Niemann’s playing, and I think his mentor GM Maxim Dlugy must do a great job.”
Despite him saying that he is not making a scene with any full accusation, his mention of Dlugy also seems to be a further accusation of cheating. Chess coach and FIDE (the International Chess Federation) master Yosha Iglesias wrote on Twitter that Dlugy was allegedly caught cheating Chess.com back in 2017.
It appears that the ongoing chess-cheating scandal relies on circumstantial evidence which, while giving Niemann a bad look, does not provide any real evidence. Other chess masters have also mentioned how Niemann performs “strange movements” during his game, but it is still very far from actually being true proof.
Chess.com’s CEO Erik Allebest reportedly declined to offer a statement, according to their own news bulletin. FIDE Director General Emil Sutofsky told the Julius Baer cup stream Wednesday that their organization plans to connect with Chess.com and put out some sort of statement, saying it’s something they have to “review carefully.”
The 19-year-old American chess champion Niemann defeated Carlsen during the Sinquefield Cup earlier this month. The 31-year-old Norwegian grandmaster, one of the most glorified players in the world, then left the tournament and exited tweet this seemed to imply that there was something wrong with his opponent. It caused a firestorm of speculation, even some wild conspiracies that Niemann used vibrating anal beads to give him clues about his next move.
Niemann previously admitted to using computer aid at online chess when he was 12 and 16 years old, which also led to a ban from Chess.com and an end to his streaming career.
In an an interview Earlier this month, Niemann called his past cheating “the biggest mistake of my life” and went on to say that if his detractors want to strip him and force him to play out of a box with “zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. . . I’m here to win.”
Gizmodo’s past coverage pointed out that the case might be less of a cheating scandal and more of the way that amazing improvements in chess AI have changed the game, forcing a new paradigm where players memorize opening moves and play by repetition and less by calculation.
Chess.com’s fraud detection was developed in part by Kenneth Regan, a chess researcher and professor at the University of Buffalo. He is written enough about differences between how computers and humans play chess. He recently told the Chess24 stream that, based on what he’s witnessed, he hasn’t found any evidence that Niemann is cheating, although few if any researchers factor in anal beads, so who knows.