Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen has been embroiled in a scandal with US player Hans Niemann

Magnus Carlsen, the top-ranked chess player in the world, has fired a salvo in his apparent feud with American Hans Niemann after the Norwegian resigned from an online match between the two after making just one move. 

The pair were poised for a showdown at the Julius Baer Generation Cup on Monday in what was their first meeting since Niemann's win over Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup earlier in September.

And while fans were anticipating another tense encounter which was being broadcast live on Chess24, Carlsen - playing as black - brought an unusually brief conclusion to the proceedings when he resigned from the match and disconnected his video stream after moving a single piece.

Niemann, playing as white, had made two moves. He also quickly disconnected the live camera feed.

Tania Sachdev, the Indian grandmaster who was providing commentary, was left to scramble to update viewers as to what exactly was going on.

"Magnus Carlsen just resigned. Got up and left," she said. 

"Switched off his camera, and that's all we know right now. We're going to try to get an update on this."

The stand-off between the two comes weeks after the 19-year-old Niemann defeated Carlsen at a prominent event in St. Louis, after which Carlsen subsequently withdrew from the tournament. 

Carlsen refused to be drawn on speculation as to why he had opted out of the event, but hinted to his motivations on Twitter when he posted a photograph of Jose Mourinho in which he borrowed one of the Portuguese football manager's more well-known statements when dealing with the media: "If I speak, I am in big trouble."

The tweet has apparently since been deleted from Carlsen's account.

He did not elaborate further but fellow player Hikaru Nakamura speculated that his motivations were likely related to a suspicion Carlsen may have held that Niemann cheated in their match.

Nakamura also stated that Niemann was banned from competing on the popular website. 

Niemann, though, has rejected claims he cheated in his prior match with Carlsen in September but has previously admitted to doing so when he was both 12 and 16 years old.

"I have never cheated in an over-the-board game," Niemann said.

He added that he was prepared to play in any suitable environment in which cheating would be impossible, or in "a closed box with zero electronic transmission."

And while further developments are expected from Carlsen following Monday's flare-up, Sachdev was left to sum up the developments to a confused audience online.

"Magnus [is] just refusing to play against Hans," she said.

"He will play the tournament, but he is saying 'I will not play the game against him'. That's making a very big statement."

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