The World Chess Champion has spoken — once again.
Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, 31, has provided more context on why he withdrew from a highly-anticipated virtual match against American grandmaster Hans Niemann, 19, last week after just one move.
Niemann was formerly banned from Chess.com after he admitted to cheating twice before: once when he was 12 and again when he was 16.
His mentor, Maxim Dlugy, was also suspended in 2017 for allegedly cheating.
World No. 1 Carlsen withdrew for the first time in his career during the Sinquefield Cup a few weeks ago after losing to Niemann — who was the lowest ranked in the competition — in a third round defeat.
“At the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I made the unprecedented professional decision to withdraw from the tournament after my round three game against Hans Niemann,” Carlsen started in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday. “A week later during the Champions Chess Tour, I resigned against Hans Niemann after playing only one move.”
“I know that my actions have frustrated many in the chess community. I’m frustrated,” he admitted. “I want to play chess. I want to continue to play chess at the highest level in the best events.”
In the moment, announcers Peter Leko and Tania Sachdev were taken by surprise at the withdrawal, with Sachdev saying it was an “unprecedented” move and that Carlsen was “making a very big statement.”
Many fans wondered if Carlsen bowed out because Niemann was cheating — which Carlsen addressed in the letter.
“I believe that cheating in chess is a big deal and an existential threat to the game,” he continued Monday. “I also believe that chess organizers and all those who care about the sanctity of the game we love should seriously consider increasing security measures and methods of cheat detection for over the board chess. When Niemann was invited last minute to the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I strongly considered withdrawing prior to the event. I ultimately chose to play.”
“I believe that Niemann has cheated more – and more frequently – than he has publicly admitted. His over the board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do. This game contributed to changing my perspective.”
In a statement posted on Sept. 9, Chief Chess Officer Danny Rensch wrote on behalf of the website, “We have shared detailed evidence with him concerning our decision, including information that contradicts his statements regarding the amount and seriousness of his cheating on Chess.com.”
“We must do something about cheating, and for my part going forward, I don’t want to play against people that have cheated repeatedly in the past, because I don’t know what they are capable of doing in the future,” Carlsen doubled down in his statement.
“There is more that I would like to say. Unfortunately, at this time I am limited in what I can say without explicit permission from Niemann to speak openly. So far I have only been able to speak with my actions, and those actions have stated clearly that I am not willing to play chess with Niemann. I hope that truth on this matter comes out, whatever it may be.”
At the time of publication, Niemann has not responded to Carlsen’s cheating allegations.