22 votes

Magnus Carlsen withdraws from Sinquefield Cup

35 comments

  1. [5]
    streblo
    Link
    Statement from Carlsen: https://twitter.com/MagnusCarlsen/status/1574482694406565888
    9 votes
    1. [4]
      alf
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Reading this statement, I fully empathize with Magnus. While I do believe his course of action was far from ideal, he is after all a human being and I cannot truthfully say that I would do any...

      Reading this statement, I fully empathize with Magnus. While I do believe his course of action was far from ideal, he is after all a human being and I cannot truthfully say that I would do any better in his position. He now shared his reasoning, the source of his apprehension, and by doing so he opened himself to the same scrutiny Hans Niemann has received. I believe it is important to understand that even someone who is guilty of wrongdoing has the right to a defense, and up until now, without an actual public accusation, Hans Niemann was prevented from doing so (and, since I generally presume innocence, I had no reason whatsoever to believe that Hans was the reason more details didn't come to light).

      Ultimately, what we have here are strong suspicions by someone with enormous credibility and little motive to lie. That is extremely relevant, albeit weakly evidential. Hopefully, new analysis and information will surface to settle the matter completely.

      Truthfully, I think the odds of Magnus being mistaken are exceedingly low at this point.

      EDIT: this may seem like too much of a Ned Flanders thought, but I was worried about Hans Niemann's mental health when I thought he might be innocent, and now that I think he's most likely guilty I'm even more preoccupied. His entire world is about to explode.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        Rudism
        Link Parent
        Out of curiosity, what was it that tipped you over into thinking Hans is most likely guilty? Carlsen's statement doesn't seem to provide (or even hint at the existence of) any actual evidence of...

        Out of curiosity, what was it that tipped you over into thinking Hans is most likely guilty?

        Carlsen's statement doesn't seem to provide (or even hint at the existence of) any actual evidence of cheating at the Sinquefield event outside of his gut feeling.

        2 votes
        1. alf
          Link Parent
          Even though I'm definitely an evidence-first kind of guy, it is hard for me to ignore that Magnus is immensely credible and also competent enough in his domain for his concerns to have enormous...

          Even though I'm definitely an evidence-first kind of guy, it is hard for me to ignore that Magnus is immensely credible and also competent enough in his domain for his concerns to have enormous weight. I was not at all inclined to have an opinion on vague insinuations, but an actual statement, along with all the other circumstantial evidence, managed to persuade me in the direction of guilt -- but that is merely a conviction, not certainty.

          So this is just a personal opinion (and also a consequence that I am, admittedly, kinda tired of this whole thing), and I still believe that concrete evidence must surface in order to justify any actual measures taken against Hans, including the ban from chess.com. And I am still very critical of Magnus and chess.com's handling of the situation.

          1 vote
        2. Qis
          Link Parent
          Yes, I can't really fathom how cheating threatens chess on an existential level. It's not like a juicing scandal, where gains in one event presage unfair advantages in future games -- the computer...

          Yes, I can't really fathom how cheating threatens chess on an existential level. It's not like a juicing scandal, where gains in one event presage unfair advantages in future games -- the computer stops helping when you stop using it. Hans Niemann could forfeit all ill-gotten gains and then all they'd need to do to restore honor to chess is prevent further cheating... Magnus makes no suggestions on that front here, and I don't think it's honest to lean on his credibility anymore.

  2. [3]
    alf
    (edited )
    Link
    Official statement from the Chief Arbiter of the 2022 SinquefieldCup (Twitter, image): Now for a personal comment... I've been trying to stick to the facts in this post, but I will now talk about...

    Official statement from the Chief Arbiter of the 2022 SinquefieldCup (Twitter, image):

    We currently have no indication that any player has been playing unfairly in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup.

    Now for a personal comment...

    I've been trying to stick to the facts in this post, but I will now talk about something less precise: how the community is reacting to all this.

    Up until now, I was very much in my bubble, interacting sparingly and keeping to myself. Because of that, I had the misguided impression that most chess fans agreed with my positions on the matter. I was profoundly mistaken. I forgot how Fandoms often embrace corporations and capitalists.

    For many, Magnus Carlsen is the best chess player that ever lived. He is also incredibly charismatic. When Magnus wins, he is always respectful to the opponent. When Magnus loses, it's the same. Some may not be fans, but no one hates Magnus, not even his opponents. Everything about him is consistently wholesome. It is hard to find fault in Magnus, and that applies both inside and outside the matches. So, in addition to being probably the GOAT, Magnus Carlsen is also the most credible chess player on the globe.

    Talking more generally about cheating, I honestly have no idea how online tournaments with cash prizes can even exist, since it is virtually impossible to effectively referee the setup of every single player in their own homes, and there are dozens of ways to cheat online and never get caught. The notion that a similar level of insecurity is also present in over-the-board tournaments is enough to make chess-heads spin. I'm saying that to give an idea of how scary it is to even hear about the possibility of cheating in chess. The stakes are high, and the emotions involved are immeasurable. For chess, cheating is not just an issue, it is an existential threat.

    It should surprise no one that many chess fans hold certain companies and projects in high regard. So there are the Lichess fanboys that will always say chess.com is terrible, and vice-versa. I shouldn't have, but I was baffled to see that some people... just believe what they say. And that's it. If Magnus and chesscom say so, why would anyone need any proof to make someone's life a living hell?

    Adding to that, because Hans was accused of cheating, there's a psychological association between him and the very notion of cheating, something for which many chess player harbor a profound and uncontrollable hatred. It doesn't matter that we don't have any evidence of wrongdoing -- the accusation remains like a curse.

    So most people in places like /r/chess are fruitlessly trying to answer the question did he cheat?, which is a valid concern of the utmost importance, but also completely ignoring the question: did Magnus and chesscom deal with the issue in an ethical manner?. To many, the answer to the former is yes and no further proof is necessary. Of course, it is possible that Hans really is guilty of cheating, but I don't wanna be part of this mob mentality.

    It's disheartening.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      Whom
      Link Parent
      It's beside the point here, but cheating fiascos in modern chess are so fascinating to me. It's a game where everyone uses machines for learning, everyone is trying to play as machine-like as...

      I'm saying that to give an idea of how scary it is to even hear about the possibility of cheating in chess. The stakes are high, and the emotions involved are immeasurable. For chess, cheating is not just an issue, it is an existential threat.

      It's beside the point here, but cheating fiascos in modern chess are so fascinating to me. It's a game where everyone uses machines for learning, everyone is trying to play as machine-like as possible, and the correctness of one's play is judged by how close to the machine it is. Yet if you play too much like the machine (the exact thing you're trying to do), that'll arise suspicion and could get you shunned even without evidence beyond that.

      It's a strange situation and I don't envy the officials and players who have to deal with this.

      5 votes
      1. alf
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Yes, it is true that you generally wanna play like the machine. However, GMs often make choices based on how they perceive their own strengths, and how well expect their opponents to respond to...

        Yes, it is true that you generally wanna play like the machine.

        However, GMs often make choices based on how they perceive their own strengths, and how well expect their opponents to respond to certain lines. If everyone literally tried to play like a computer, all games would start with 1. e4 e5 and consist of nothing but theory for the first 20 or moves so.

        While strong, there are lines that would require superhuman accuracy, so they might be bad for a given player even though it is the correct move according to the engine.

        So, in practice, at my level, something very unsound like the Scandinavian Opening is pretty good, and the English Opening is relatively popular at the high level.

        There is also the issue of time control... if your opponent doesn't have much time, it is often a good idea to introduce complications that you can manage fine in the time available to you, but they won't be able to calculate properly. I don't think engines account for that.

        On one hand, one might say that engines made humans obsolete in chess. On the other, I would argue that engines are almost playing a different game. Engines play chess, humans play other humans.

        3 votes
  3. alf
    Link
    Chess.com public response to concerns regarding the Hans Niemann ban, transcribed from Twitter:

    Chess.com public response to concerns regarding the Hans Niemann ban, transcribed from Twitter:

    Dear Chess Community,

    The last few days have been tumultuous for many in the chess community. At this time, we have reached out to Hans Niemann to explain our decision to privately remove him from Chess.com and our events. 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 have invited Hans to provide an explanation and response with the hope of finding a resolution where Hans can again participate on Chess.com. We want nothing more than to see the best chess players in the world succeed in the greatest events. We will always act to protect the integrity of the game that we all love.

    Danny Rensch
    Chief Chess Office, Chess.com

    5 votes
  4. [11]
    Grendel
    Link
    @alf I only follow chess loosely, could you please provide a quick summary of the events and your ur take on them?

    @alf I only follow chess loosely, could you please provide a quick summary of the events and your ur take on them?

    5 votes
    1. [10]
      alf
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Yes, of course. In a tournament game, Hans Niemann beat the World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a game of classical chess in a manner that some would find humiliating (even "worse", Hans was playing...
      • Exemplary

      Yes, of course.

      In a tournament game, Hans Niemann beat the World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a game of classical chess in a manner that some would find humiliating (even "worse", Hans was playing with black...). It is important to notice that Carlsen (as well as many top 10 players) is defeated on a regular basis in shorter time controls by weaker players, but only rarely in classical chess. In a post-game interview, Hans Niemann was way more candid than most chess players, saying things that one might interpret as offhanded provocations towards Magnus and elite players in general. The viewers seem to have generally regarded the interview positively, and many praised his lack of restraint.

      Shortly after, Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the tournament, something he never did before in his entire career. It must be noted that the Sinquefield Cup is a round-robin tournament, and because of that, his withdrawal is even harder to defend since doing so will hurt other players. Magnus announced his withdrawal in a Tweet, along with a video in which the soccer coach José Mourinho declares, in an interview, something along the lines of: "if I say anything more I will get in big trouble". While he never made a direct accusation, almost everyone took it to mean that he left the tournament because Hans cheated.

      In the next chapter of this drama, the website chess.com banned Hans Nieman from the site and removed the invitation they made him for an upcoming tournament. Chess.com is the largest chess website in the world, it has many top players in its roster (who play exclusively on chess.com), and a good relationship with the site is essential for the livelihood of many professional players.

      It must be noted that Magnus Carlsen's company, the Play Magnus Group, was recently acquired by chess.com in an $82m deal, so it is possible that he's got some leverage on chess.com already.

      In another interview, Hans shared details of two previous episodes of cheating, one when he was 12, and another when he was 16, and apologized completely and without reservations. This past cheating was, AFAIK, already public record. He also vehemently denied all accusations and contested the ban from chess.com.

      Last evening, chess.com CEO Twitted a few corporate platitudes, along with clear indications that they have some kind of proof that Hans cheating behavior continued further than what was already known while providing nothing even remotely concrete.

      Experts that analyzed the game point out that Hans didn't even play well enough to warrant a cheating accusation.

      What do I think? Regarding the question if Hans cheated or not, I don't think anything. It could be. It could very well not be. That is not where I would concentrate my attention right now. What baffles me, regardless of Hans cheating or not, is how irresponsible both Magnus and chess.com are behaving toward the sport and its fans. If you must make a cheating accusation, then just freaking do it. Show your proof, or at least share your reasoning. Don't create division, don't throw an entire fandom into toxic speculation. At the very least, Magnus is being extremely reckless. chess.com also has a huge role to play in the fandom, what they say matters. If you truly cannot, under any circumstances, reveal the reasoning behind the ban (and I think they can...), at least wait a little longer for more information to come out. The impression I'm getting is that Magnus only cares about Magnus, and chess.com, only about chess.com.

      However, if Hans is innocent, and there's absolutely no evidence that he's not, then Magnus Carlsen and chess.com basically ended the dude's career for nothing. Even if he overcomes this, that must take a huge emotional toll, and I can't imagine this won't show up on his games. Additionally, if innocent, I hope he sues... oh my god he should sue for every-single-fucking-penny and I hope he gets it.

      So, in short, the main question right now is not if he cheated or not, the question is, will anyone take responsibility for actions that are hurting the sport and its fans, and which may very well be hurting the life and career of an innocent man?

      17 votes
      1. [4]
        Grendel
        Link Parent
        Thanks for that breakdown! Reading over that reddit thread it seems like Hikaru probably has a lot to answer for as well. It seems like he somehow manages to tangle himself up (apparently...

        Thanks for that breakdown! Reading over that reddit thread it seems like Hikaru probably has a lot to answer for as well.

        It seems like he somehow manages to tangle himself up (apparently intentionally) in all drama surrounding pro chess. He acts like a social media influencer who's all about the clicks.

        Everyone besides Hans seems pretty childish about this, which sadly seems to be more common in pro chess anymore.

        4 votes
        1. [3]
          alf
          Link Parent
          Hikaru is extremely toxic, but he's also #6 in the world. So people tend to let it go.

          Hikaru is extremely toxic, but he's also #6 in the world. So people tend to let it go.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            Grendel
            Link Parent
            I think people let it go because it's entertaining. Everyone talks about drawing in more chess fans, especially young people. Hikaru isn't dumb, he know that drama brings people in. I haven't paid...

            I think people let it go because it's entertaining. Everyone talks about drawing in more chess fans, especially young people. Hikaru isn't dumb, he know that drama brings people in.

            I haven't paid attention to pro chess in at least 6 months, yet here I am talking about it, and talking about Hikaru specifically no less. I haven't watched his videos on this whole debacle, but how many people have?

            Who needs to win tournament prizes when you can get YouTube ad money? Hikaru has a strategy to boost himself at the expense of those around him.

            4 votes
            1. alf
              Link Parent
              Yeah. I get the impression that a lot of Hikaru's audience is fairly young, they just eat the toxicity up. And Hikaru's demeanor is quite infantile as well. He's a whining child. I'm pretty sure...

              Yeah. I get the impression that a lot of Hikaru's audience is fairly young, they just eat the toxicity up. And Hikaru's demeanor is quite infantile as well. He's a whining child.

              I'm pretty sure being the topmost US chess player also plays a role with American audiences. And he even managed to be in the Candidates while being a full-time streamer. The guy is a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, he is also an asshole.

              4 votes
      2. [5]
        frailtomato
        Link Parent
        As somebody who thinks chess is cool, but only experience is a tournament where I quit because I needed to piss and was afraid to ask if I could go…how does one cheat in chess?

        As somebody who thinks chess is cool, but only experience is a tournament where I quit because I needed to piss and was afraid to ask if I could go…how does one cheat in chess?

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          alf
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Online, people cheat by manually feeding the opponent's moves to an engine and then using the engine recommendation in the game. Over-the-board it's the same, but the process of feeding moves and...

          Online, people cheat by manually feeding the opponent's moves to an engine and then using the engine recommendation in the game. Over-the-board it's the same, but the process of feeding moves and getting them back is more complicated.

          A GM was caught using his phone in the bathroom to get answers, and was promptly banned for life. There is also the possibility of using an earbud that feeds the moves; in that case, you would probably need a collaborator. Such a collaborator could be following a stream, but you can also do it without any electronics on your body -- someone that is present in the room could feed the moves to the engine and then use signaling to give you the right moves. The third party (or even a team) could also come up with the moves by themselves, so no electronics at all.

          Also, at the GM level, you don't even need to cheat at every move to have a great advantage, a tip for a particularly complicated junction is enough to guarantee a victory. It doesn't even need to be a specific move, something like a number from 1 to 10 representing the current engine evaluation of who's leading would be enough to tip the scale.

          There is also the issue of espionage, someone on your team could leak your prep to the opponent.

          So ultimately, the main question is not so much "how does one cheat", but rather, "how the hell do we catch them"?

          8 votes
          1. [2]
            mycketforvirrad
            Link Parent
            I was curious and went down the rabbit hole. For anyone else similarly curious, the following was gleaned from Igors Rausis' Wikipedia page. But I think my favourite has to be the time they went...

            A GM was caught using his phone in the bathroom to get answers, and was promptly banned for life.

            I was curious and went down the rabbit hole. For anyone else similarly curious, the following was gleaned from Igors Rausis' Wikipedia page.

            In July 2019, Rausis was caught cheating in the Strasbourg Open, using a mobile phone in the toilet. He admitted to having cheated, and announced his retirement from chess. Prior to the incident, Rausis had been under suspicion for several months.

            In 2003, there were allegations that he provided "occasional help" to his wife during correspondence chess tournaments.

            But I think my favourite has to be the time they went incognito at a small-town chess tournament in their home country of Latvia.

            It was only before the start of the third round that GM Arturs Neiksans, the heavy favorite as the only grandmaster in the field, noticed that Igors Rausis was also playing. Or rather, Isa Kasimi, the new name that Rausis is now using.

            Source: Peter Doggers – chess.com

            2 votes
            1. alf
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Oh, so he evaded the ban, didn't know that. He probably would have, though. There's an actual picture of him in the stall, it is hard to come back from that.

              Oh, so he evaded the ban, didn't know that. He probably would have, though. There's an actual picture of him in the stall, it is hard to come back from that.

              3 votes
  5. [5]
    alf
    Link
    Magnus Carlsen resigns from rematch with Hans Niemann after opening move.
    5 votes
    1. Grendel
      Link Parent
      The ethics of Magnus' actions no longer hinges on the legitimacy of his accusation. Even if we saw conclusive evidence that Hans cheated it wouldn't justify this irresponsible behavior. If you...

      The ethics of Magnus' actions no longer hinges on the legitimacy of his accusation. Even if we saw conclusive evidence that Hans cheated it wouldn't justify this irresponsible behavior.

      If you think someone cheated just say it. He opened the door to massive speculation and he knows what that does.

      It honestly reminds me of the tactics used by US conservative politicians: say enough that people know what you mean but not so much that you can't deny it later.

      Directly making the accusations would place the burden of proof upon him. By letting the public speculate he puts Hans on the defensive.

      He's made the poor guy guilty until proven innocent and that's not right, regardless of whether he was cheating or not.

      8 votes
    2. [3]
      Qis
      Link Parent
      This is absurd, right? I'm reading this as embarrassingly petty. Did they have real evidence that anything happened at the sinquefeld game?

      This is absurd, right? I'm reading this as embarrassingly petty. Did they have real evidence that anything happened at the sinquefeld game?

      3 votes
      1. alf
        Link Parent
        I really don't know how to qualify Magnus' actions at this point, but no actual evidence was ever shared with the public.

        I really don't know how to qualify Magnus' actions at this point, but no actual evidence was ever shared with the public.

        2 votes
      2. Rudism
        Link Parent
        All of this drama and Magnus' failure to put out any kind of straight forward statement (let alone any evidence) while continuing the childish shenanigans has really caused me to lose a ton of...

        All of this drama and Magnus' failure to put out any kind of straight forward statement (let alone any evidence) while continuing the childish shenanigans has really caused me to lose a ton of respect for him.

        2 votes
  6. [3]
    alf
    (edited )
    Link
    Ian Nepomniachtchi: I was unhappy to hear Hans Niemann will replace Rapport in Sinquefield Cup, (full video). FIDE Statement on the Carlsen - Niemann polemic:

    Ian Nepomniachtchi: I was unhappy to hear Hans Niemann will replace Rapport in Sinquefield Cup, (full video).

    FIDE Statement on the Carlsen - Niemann polemic:

    Last week, World Champion Magnus Carlsen resigned in a game played in an online competition against GM Hans Niemann before making his move two. The week before, he left an over-the-board tournament after losing the game to the same Mr. Niemann.

    These were not FIDE events; however, as the world’s chess governing body, it is our duty to protect the integrity of the game and its image, and in view that the incident keeps escalating, we find it necessary to take a step forward.

    First of all, we strongly believe that the World Champion has a moral responsibility attached to his status, since he is viewed as a global ambassador of the game. His actions impact the reputation of his colleagues, sportive results, and eventually can be damaging to our game. We strongly believe that there were better ways to handle this situation.

    At the same time, we share his deep concerns about the damage that cheating brings to chess. FIDE has led the fight against cheating for many years, and we reiterate our zero-tolerance policy toward cheating in any form. Whether it is online or “over the board”, cheating remains cheating. We are strongly committed to this fight, and we have invested in forming a group of specialists to devise sophisticated preventive measures that already apply at top FIDE events.

    As we have already done before, FIDE calls for reinforcing the cooperation between major online platforms, private events and top players - most of whom have already expressed their will to join efforts with FIDE.

    FIDE is prepared to task its Fair Play commission with a thorough investigation of the incident, when the adequate initial proof is provided, and all parties involved disclose the information at their disposal. We are fully aware that, in some cases, uncertainty can harm players' performance. It also can be damaging to a player's reputation - that's why we insist on the anti-cheating protocols to be followed.

    It is our hope that this whole situation could have a long-term positive effect, if tackled properly. We propose to launch a dedicated Panel, that would include representatives of the leading chess platforms, Grandmasters, anti-cheating experts and FIDE officers, in order to fight this risk and prevent it becomes a real plague.

    Arkady Dvorkovich

    FIDE President

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Liru
      Link Parent
      So is this a confirmation of some sort that Carlsen was concerned about Niemann cheating, or does it seem like weaselly language to ease speculation?

      At the same time, we share his deep concerns about the damage that cheating brings to chess. FIDE has led the fight against cheating for many years, and we reiterate our zero-tolerance policy toward cheating in any form. Whether it is online or “over the board”, cheating remains cheating. We are strongly committed to this fight, and we have invested in forming a group of specialists to devise sophisticated preventive measures that already apply at top FIDE events.

      So is this a confirmation of some sort that Carlsen was concerned about Niemann cheating, or does it seem like weaselly language to ease speculation?

      1 vote
      1. alf
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Someone in /r/chess provided a valid interpretation (permalink):

        Someone in /r/chess provided a valid interpretation (permalink):

        I disagree that its a non-statement. Lets read between the lines.

        1: They say Carlsen handled it poorly, called his behavior unprofessional. This one is pretty open.

        2: They say online cheating is just as immoral as over the board cheating. Niemann has challenged this notion before, saying it was just online, and used this argument to defend his position.

        3: They are urging Carlsen and Niemann, possibly also chess.com, to disclose information to them. It would seem neither party has done it so far, or at least not using the correct procedure.

        4: They want to work with online platforms, possibly with the intention to introduce sanctions for online cheating, which reinforces statement number 2.

        5 votes
  7. vili
    Link
    Carlsen has now said something, repeating that he can't really talk about the situation, but also putting forward what seems like a suggestion that Niemann's coach Maxim Dlugy is involved.

    Carlsen has now said something, repeating that he can't really talk about the situation, but also putting forward what seems like a suggestion that Niemann's coach Maxim Dlugy is involved.

    3 votes
  8. alf
    (edited )
    Link
    Naroditsky: I am pretty confident that Magnus believes Niemann has cheated over the board before Saint Louis (video) Daniel King: I’m really disappointed to see how Carlsen behaved with this...

    Naroditsky: I am pretty confident that Magnus believes Niemann has cheated over the board before Saint Louis (video)

    Daniel King: I’m really disappointed to see how Carlsen behaved with this strange resignation protest. (video)

    Ken Regan calls Hans accusations unfounded (vreddit).

    GM Greg Shahade on Twitter:

    In all seriousness, one big reason this is bad is Hans is by no means a lock to make the final 8. If he makes it by half a point or point over someone, that person has a very legitimate grievance. Magnus forfeit doesn’t only affect him and Hans and IMO he should be disqualified

    2 votes