Entertainment And News

Theorists Think 19-Year-Old Chess Player Used Vibrating Beads To Cheat In Win Against World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen

Photo: LINGTREN.COM / Shutterstock.com / YouTube
Hans Niemann, Magnus Carlsen

On September 5, 2022, world-renowned chess champion, 31-year-old Magnus Carlsen, withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis after a stunning loss to 19-year-old US chess grandmaster (GM), Hans Niemann.

In a statement following his withdrawal, Carlsen hinted that he was accusing the teenager of cheating in order to win against him leading to one of the largest controversies the chess world has ever seen — and the theories are plentiful.

Did Hans Niemann cheat against Magnus Carlsen? 

Officials have not accused Niemann of cheating nor is he being investigated but Carlsen and chess fans around the world have insinuated there may be a sinister reason behind his win.

Some impressively creative theories online claim Niemann won on a fraudulent basis, but cheating in a chess tournament — especially one held in person — would be wildly difficult to pull off.

Typically, people believe that someone who cheated in a classical, over-the-board game of chess would need some assistance from an AI computer that would give them a signal.

RELATED: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ — This Is How Traumatized Children Survive

The computer would predict moves and signal what the best move to make next would be, allowing the player to gain the advantage in any situation.

Niemann ended Carlsen’s 53-game unbeaten streak in classical, over-the-board tournaments and was subsequently searched, offering no proof that he cheated using said device.

According to the International Chess Federation’s (FIDE) rankings at the time of writing, based on an ELO ranking system, Carlsen remains the #1 player in the world with a rating of 2861 while Niemann sits at #49 with a rating of 2688.

Since the ranking discrepancy between these two players is so large, and Carlsen is arguably the best chess player to ever hit the board, many people believe that Niemann had to have cheated against the reigning five-time World Chess Champion.

However, via their blog, The Grand Chess Tour, supported Carlsen's withdrawal and refused to give attention to the cheating rumors.

“A player’s decision to withdraw from a tournament is a personal decision, and we respect Magnus’ choice, '' said Tony Rich, Executive Director of Saint Louis Chess Club. “We look forward to hosting Magnus at a future event in Saint Louis.”

Magnus Carlsen appears convinced that Hans Niemann cheated.

The tweet Carlsen sent out announcing his withdrawal was accusatory — including a short clip from the former manager of Chelsea's soccer club, Jose Mourinho.

“I prefer really, not to. Not to speak,” Mourinho says when asked about the refereeing against Chelsea in a post-game interview. “If I speak, I am in big trouble, in big trouble, and I don’t want to be in big trouble.”

Some theorists think Niemann used anal beads to cheat.

Since a search on Niemann directly after his game with Carlsen proved fruitless and there was no evidence of Niemann using a device to cheat, people came up with the theory that they didn’t find anything in his clothes because the device was lodged inside his posterior.

RELATED: Princess Diana's Bodyguard Says She Was Planning The Same Big Move As Prince Harry Before Her Death

The idea spawned from a streamer who claimed that “anal beads would beat the engine.”

This theory went viral after someone tweeted about it, saying “Currently obsessed with the notion that Hans Niemann has been cheating at the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament using wireless anal beads that vibrate him the correct moves.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk even chimed into the conversation, providing a twist on an old quote from Schopenhauer that reads: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one can see (cause it’s in ur butt).”

No matter how preposterous the theory sounds, Niemann has addressed the concerns because he believes that they’re currently costing him his reputation.

“If they want me to strip fully naked, I’ll do it, I don’t care, because I know that I’m clean and I’m willing to subject myself,” he said. “You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care, name whatever you guys want.”

The accusations have done nothing but fuel Niemann up, claiming that “I’m here to win, and that’s going to be my goal regardless.”

In an interview with chess analyst and GM Alejandro Ramirez after his historic win, Niemann claims that Carlsen simply “played poorly,” and that by some miracle, he checked a former opening that Carlsen had played in the past to secure him the victory.

During the interview, Hans Niemann addressed previous cheating accusations.

Elaborating a little more, Niemann defends himself against the criticisms of people on social media as well as the cheating accusations.

“I noticed throughout social media a lot of people who I once had respect for, who I once looked up to, a lot of my heroes, have decided to hop on this bandwagon,” he said.

“There has been a lot of speculation, and there’s been a lot of things said, and I think I’m the only one who knows the truth.”

Niemann is specifically referencing an instance in which the popular chess streamer and current #6 ranked GM Hikaru Nakamura, indirectly accused him of cheating.

“This is probably something I should not say, but I will say this anyway,” Nakamura said during a stream in which he responds to the Niemann-Carlsen controversy, “which is that there was a period of over six months when Hans did not play any prize-money tournaments on Chesscom.”

Niemann admits that, twice, when he was 12 years old and 16 years old, he cheated in online games on Chesscom (Chess.com), the largest online platform for chess playing and players.

“Other than that, after I was 12, I had never, ever in my life cheated in an over-the-board game, in an online tournament,” he said.

“They were unrated games,” he continues, “and I’m admitting this, and I’m saying my truth, because I do not want any misrepresentation.”

RELATED: Unexpected Life Lessons You Can Learn From 'The Queen's Gambit'

Niemann expresses that he learned from his mistakes and has since, “sacrificed everything for chess, and I do everything I can to improve.”

He also expressed his disappointment in Carlsen, a man that he looked up to and called his hero, for insinuating that he cheated after losing to Niemann.

“But for me to see my hero, to see my absolute hero try to target, try to ruin my reputation, ruin my chess career, and to do it in such a frivolous way, is really disappointing,” he said.

"Because you spend your entire life looking up to someone, and then you meet them. My dream came true, I lived my dream for a day, beating Magnus, and then all of this happened.”

As a result of the scandal, Niemann has been uninvited from the $1 million World Chess Championship.

“After the game against Magnus, obviously Magnus puts his tweet, clearly some insinuations, and everybody starts to pile on,” Niemann says. “I get an email from Chesscom saying that they’ve privately removed access to my Chesscom account and that they have uninvited me from the Global Chess Championship.”

They explained to him that, because of his game against Carlsen, they decided to “privately remove” him from the website and rescinded his invitation to the World Chess Championship, which has a prize pool of $1 million and consists of online qualifiers that will result into an 8-player final championship.

After speaking with some of the higher-ups at Chess.com, Niemann was removed from the website entirely — a move that makes him feel as though he’s being targeted.

RELATED: 25 Best Board Games For Adults Who Have A Competitive Streak

Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Since graduating from Rutgers University, he spends most of his free time gaming or playing Quadball. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!