Magnus Carlsen has broken his silence after the shocking moment he quit a highly anticipated chess match against US grandmaster Hans Niemann after just one move.
On Monday, Norwegian player Carlsen, 31, played a virtual preliminary match against Niemann, 19, who unexpectedly – and somewhat controversially – beat him earlier this month. The win sparked cheating allegations and bizarre theories about how Niemann beat Carlsen.
“Unfortunately, I can’t speak to that in particular, but people can come to their own conclusion and they certainly have,” Carlsen said, via Chess24.com. “I have to say I’m very impressed with Niemann’s play and I think his GM mentor Maxim Dlugy must be doing a great job.”
Dlugy was banned from chess.com after allegedly cheating in 2017.
Carlsen – who did not directly accuse Niemann of cheating – and Niemann were playing in the Julius Baer Generation Cup using the Chess24 platform and Microsoft Teams, when Carlsen unceremoniously turned off his webcam and left the game.
The world No. 1 retired for the first time in his career at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis a few weeks ago after losing to Niemann – who was the lowest ranked in the competition – in a defeat in the third round.
Advertisers Peter Leko and Tania Sachdev were surprised by the pullout, with Sachdev saying it was a “unprecedentedand that Carlsen was “making a really big statement.”
Carlson’s withdrawal shocked chess fans around the world, and there was speculation that Neimann cheated.
Elon Musk popularized the theory on how Neimann could have cheated, retweeting a post that read: “Currently obsessed with the idea that Hans Niemann cheated at the Sinquefield Cup Chess Tournament using wireless anal beads that vibrate him to the right moves .”
Niemann later admitted in an interview to cheating online chess in the past, but flatly denied ever cheating overboard chess, which is a game played in person.