Yesterday, Carlsen posted a statement to Twitter that made explicit what anyone following the story already assumed: Carlsen thinks Niemann cheated to defeat him and does not want to play him due to Niemann's (admitted) history of cheating in online chess tournaments. Carlsen failed, however, to offer an explicit accusation as to Niemann's method, stating that he is "limited" in to what he can say without Niemann's permission to speak openly.
My statement regarding the last few weeks. pic.twitter.com/KY34DbcjLo
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) September 26, 2022
"Throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that [Niemann] wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions," said Carlsen. He also said Niemann outplayed him "as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do."
The statement raised eyebrows among many chess fans, as Carlsen's accusation basically amounts to him saying Niemann outplayed him in a suspicious manner. Were chess a fighting game, this could easily be interpreted by some as a "john," or a flimsy excuse to explain a loss.
For Niemann to cheat, most agree he would need to be somehow informed of the perfect move to make by an AI chess bot. However, security at the Sinquefield Cup where Niemann defeated Carlsen appeared incredibly tight, as video showed officials going so far as to inspect Niemann's chewing gum prior to the match. This led to the now-infamous anal bead conspiracy theory that proposed Niemann had a super computer in his butt that vibrated to inform him of the best possible move. Obviously, that's highly unlikely, but to some, it was as good an explanation as any for how Niemann possibly got access to a chess bot for his game against Carlsen.
Carlsen is unquestionably the best chess player in the world and is not known to make excuses for his performances. Instead, he has shown respect for players who match him over the board (recently, he applauded 17-year-old Indian player Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa after he fought him to a surprising draw). With that reputation, some Carlsen fans, including fellow chess grandmasters, were inclined to believe him, even without concrete proof of Niemann cheating.
IMHO @MagnusCarlsen has done everything right so far, and with class. The argument that he is a cry-baby is absurd – he has never been one. He hates losing but NEVER blamed anyone but himself. It's also clear that the STL game was just the cherry on the cake. Come on, wake up.
— Romain Edouard (@romain_edouard) September 27, 2022
1. Immense respect for the world champion for taking a principled stand on an important issue, forcing the world to pay attention to it at a huge personal cost. Ideally, the chess world and FIDE should have devised a good practical solution to the cheating problem years ago.
— Ramesh RB (@Rameshchess) September 27, 2022
First up: Enormous respect to Magnus. We all knew cheating was a serious problem. We all knew it was rampant. We all kept quiet, not knowing exactly how to go about it. Magnus spoke about it and in a way that the world had no option but to take notice. The action spoke loud
— Srinath Narayanan (@srinathchess) September 27, 2022
Others were fed up with Carlsen accusing Niemann of cheating without offering proof or a potential method Niemann used. Carlsen's critics continued to imply he was being a sore loser and attempting to ruin Niemann's career through innuendo.
If you have evidence that he cheated, you should present that evidence. You are destroying this kid's career based on nothing other than shady insinuations that you won't back up. The only evidence you offer is flimsy conjecture. Either prove he's cheating, or apologize.
— Roy Delfino (@RoyDelfino) September 26, 2022
HE CHEATED! BELIEVE ME! LET ME CAUSE IRREPERABLE DAMAGE BECAUSE I WANT TO! pic.twitter.com/FI8NwucKjA
— xQc (@xQc) September 26, 2022
For those unfamiliar this has an equivalent fact base of Trump’s 2020 election claims.
Absolutely pathetic Carlsen is trying to use his influence to harm the career of someone who simply beat him. https://t.co/nxBCBQH37a
— Alexander (@statesmanalex) September 27, 2022
Carlsen's statement appears to throw the ball into Niemann's court at the end when Carlsen said he is limited in what he can say without Niemann's permission. Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura interpreted this to mean Carlsen was challenging Niemann to come forward with an essential "show me what you got" in terms of Carlsen's evidence.
"If Hans is not saying anything, I think that looks very suspicious," Nakamura said. "If Hans is truly innocent in all of this, Hans should basically come out and say 'show me what you have' and that's the end of the story."