It’s been a tough year for Magnus Carlsen. First he renounces to defend his crown of world champion of standard chess, then the possible sale of his company to a direct competitor such as chess.com and finally, his withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup tournament. There is no cause for illness as it seems, since the tweet announcing his retirement has embedded a video of Jose Mourinho saying he can’t speak because otherwise he would be in serious trouble.
It is inferred that the cause behind this abandonment is Hans Niemann. He is a player invited to the Sinquefield Cup who beat Magnus in the third round. Hans’ behavior has raised suspicions among many elite players and fans in general. It’s strange such a huge explosion in just a few months. However, Magnus, nor anyone so far, has proven with evidence that Hans Niemann is cheating. Rumors are not evidence.
The evolution of Hans Niemann
Hans Niemann had a continuous evolution upwards in the ELO fide ranking, both in classic, blitz and fast mode. He is currently 19 years old, born in 2003, and obtained the title of Maestro Fice (FM) in 2016, the title of International Master (IM) in 2018 and the title of Grandmaster of Chess in 2021. In one year he has gone from winning the GM title to having a ranking of more than 2700 and beating the current world champion Magnus Carlsen. Chance?
The 2700 website you can see the top 100 chess players in real time and you will find Hans Niemann.
Sinquefield Cup, the tournament of the abandonment of Magnus Carlsen
The ninth edition of the Sinquefield Cup tournament is played between September 1 and September 13, 2022. Before the fourth round, Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the tournament. This round started 15 minutes late due to a thorough security check, particularly of Hans as seen in this video:
In an interview Hans gave just after beating Magnus in round 3, he mentioned how he “miraculously” saw a dark opening line that happened in one match and that he had only looked at it because Magnus had played it against Wesley So at the 2018 London Chess Classic. Several people investigated this game, including Hikaru Nakamura, and it turns out that they did not find it. , although there are other people who say it does exist.
Speculations about Hans Niemann ‘s traps
There has been speculation about this player for several years now. Even, in a live Twitch, he was banned by chess.com although later the account was returned and today it is still active. Many players have stated that he somehow cheats, either with a bot as Nepomniachtchi says, or Fabiano Caruana who knew the reasons why Magnus had left the tournament.
In the fourth round of the tournament Hans Niemann played against the prodigious Alireza Firouzja and they made tables his game, and then Hans gave an interview on the official platform with the analysis engine turned off and had a seemingly incoherent analysis. It’s as if the interviewer is giving it a test as you can see in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Advantageous positions versus bad positions
Miracles in chess do not exist. There are winning positions and losing positions. In chess there is a principle that is always fulfilled. When you have an advantage you can choose between playing 4-5 plays, without hardly losing that advantage. They are wildcard lines, which you can play and continue to maintain the initiative in the game. However, if you have a bad position many times you only have one play, and all the others make you lose, lose even more. Great masters are able to see that single play and are often saved because their ability to analyze makes them reach it.
Hans’ moves over the past few months have been a source of assessments and analysis. He has lost games, but he has also beaten the world champion twice in the last month. Beating Magnus Carlsen, the best player in the history of chess is undoubtedly a very complicated challenge. His analytical skills are extraordinary and he sees plays that other great masters don’t see. Hans Niemann also seems to have that gift for plays that nobody sees but that leads to gaining an advantage.
The shadow of a doubt
Now what? Traps in chess have existed, exist and will exist. However, it is very cruel to call someone a cheater and not prove that they are. Ask Anna Rudolf, GM from Hungary and who lives in Spain, who was falsely accused of cheating in a 2008 tournament for using a lipstick.
There are cheaters who have been caught red-handed such as an Indian player named Dhruk Kakkar who used his mobile phone hidden in his ankle, or the Georgian player named Gaioz Nigalidze who had a device hidden in the bathroom, or Igor Rausis who also used a mobile device.
If there are suspicions of cheating they have to be confirmed with facts, as demonstrated in the previous 3 cases. It is not worth shooting without evidence. Hans Niemann until proven innocent, although there are indications and his statements and behavior also give rise to speculation. What is certain is that Hans’s game will no longer go unnoticed. Maybe it’s true or maybe it’s that he doesn’t like to lose and acts capriciously.