Chess champion Magnus Rage quits, reigniting cheating drama

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen holds a trophy and smiles.

Photo: Donor (Getty Images)

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen was supposed to play Hans Niemann, a 19-year-old who he previously hinted was a cheater, in the Champions Chess Tour 2022 today. Instead, he quit after making a single move, reigniting the embers of a scandal that has consumed the chess world this month. Now people are asking him to finally break his silence and plead his case rather than let the cloud of innuendo continue to cast its sordid shadow.

To recap: Niemann beat Carlsen in a stunning technical upset earlier this month in the Sinquefield Cup. Carlsen, the five-time world chess champion, resigned from the tournament in anger without any explanation apart from a cryptic tweet that included a quote from José Mourinho about getting in trouble if he said anything what’s more. Niemann admitted to cheating once as a child on, but denied ever breaking the rules in a live tournament. With nothing concrete from Carlsen, the chess world created a meme about use supercomputers inside anal beads cheating at age-old board game.

The two players met today during the Julius Baer Generation Cup, one of the many online tournaments that make up this year’s Champions Chess Tour. Gathered in this virtual setting, Niemann moved first in white and Carlsen followed in black. But when it came time for the world champion to respond to the 19-year-old’s second move, he gave up instead. There was no explanation, and online hosts were left stuttering as Carlsen’s camera footage disappeared from the stream, followed by Niemann’s.

“As soon as we saw Magnus appear on the webcam I thought we were going to play at least that will help blow things up let’s focus on chess again but what do we say now it’s a bigger statement than the tweet I think,” one host said.

Another replied: “Definitely a big statement and now he has proven by his actions that he confirms all the rumors and allegations and now he has to make a statement I will say he can’t just do that.”

Part of the shock comes from Carlsen’s own organization hosting the tournament. Rather than bail out a third-party-sponsored event, Carlsen actually invited his apparent enemy into his virtual home and then walked out the back.

After Niemann confirmed the allegation that he had cheated in at least one previous game on by using a computer program to advise him on his next move, the platform banned him for life. However, he is still welcome on, where the current tournament is hosted, and no further evidence of cheating on his part has been uncovered so far.

Neither Carlsen nor Niemann have publicly commented on the latest drama, although the chess community is already agitated with new comments.

The history of chess is full of little dramas. We are so blessed to experience this one.