Monday’s online chess match between Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, and Hans Niemann, another grandmaster, was called off before Carlsen even made a move.
The new update in what appears to be a dispute between the two players occurred as the pair competing in the Julius Baer Generation Cup when Carlsen abruptly turned off his screen and left the game.
“We’re going to try and get an update on this,” commentator Tania Sachdev said in a live broadcast of the match on chess24. “Magnus Carlsen just resigned — got up and left, switched off his camera and that’s all we know right now.”
Carlsen’s representatives were contacted by CNN for comment, but they did not respond.
The Norwegian withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis earlier this month after suffering a shocking loss to American star Niemann, marking the first time in his career that he has done so, according to chess24.
Carlsen confirmed his withdrawal on Twitter, posting: “I’ve withdrawn from the tournament. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the @STLChessClub, and hope to be back in the future.” Carlsen’s tweet also included a well-known video of football manager Jose Mourinho saying: “If I speak, I am in big trouble.”
Hikaru Nakamura, another grandmaster, claimed Carlsen is “suspicious” of Niemann’s behaviour. Days after the Sinquefield Cup match, Niemann responded in the public to claims that he had cheated in the past.
The 19-year-old acknowledged to cheating when he was 12 and 16, but he claimed he never did it in over-the-board games in an interview with the St. Louis Chess Club.
“I’m saying my truth because I do not want any misrepresentation,” said Niemann. “I am proud of myself that I have learned from that mistake, and now I have given everything to chess. I have sacrificed everything for chess.”
The tension between Niemann and Carlsen has rocked the chess community. Niemann said he had been removed from popular website Chess.com following Carlsen’s tweet and that “the entire social media and chess world is completely attacking me and undermining me.”
“To see my absolute hero (Carlsen) try to target, try to ruin my reputation, ruin my chess career and to do it in such a frivolous way is really, really disappointing,” he added.
Neither Niemann nor Chess.com responded to CNN’s request for comment.
In a statement on September 8, Chess.com’s Chief Chess Officer Danny Rensch said the site had “shared detailed evidence with [Niemann] concerning our decision, including information that contradicts his statements regarding the amount and seriousness of his cheating.”
Rensch continued: “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.”
Following the former’s abrupt resignation on Monday, Carlsen and Niemann played two more games against different opponents. After eight rounds, Carlsen is two points behind tournament leader Arjun Erigaisi, while Niemann is four points further back.
“It looks like he (Carlsen) is clearly insinuating something, but until you catch someone, you cannot do anything,” Anish Giri, who is also competing at the Julius Baer Generation Cup, told chess24.
“It just looks very odd now. Clearly, it all makes sense if, supposedly, Hans is cheating and he doesn’t want to play him, but if he isn’t (cheating), then it is really very wrong.
“So I don’t know, we have to see. Again, everybody is expecting some kind of big rabbit from the hat with Magnus, but he just doesn’t want to play Hans, it seems.”
Levon Aronian, who is also competing in the tournament, said Niemann “has been not the cleanest person when it comes to online chess,” but added that “this is a problem that requires a solution.”