Whereas the cloak-and-dagger nature of the cheating accusations in opposition to 19-year-old American grandmaster Hans Niemann—and the way in which Magnus Carlsen is accusing him of dishonest with out, you realize, accusing him of dishonest—have made chess’s largest scandal in years an gratifying one to observe, it’s value noting what good foils the 2 gamers are for one another.
On the board, Magnus is a middlegame killer, a participant who has the tactical nous to take the sport to bizarre locations and outthink his opponents, whereas Niemann adheres to considerably comparable strategic pondering (play surprising strikes) however for various causes (break their brains). In individual, Carlsen is inconspicuous and extreme, his 13 years as the most effective chess participant on this planet weighing on him, perversely, even heavier now that his solely actual competitors is with historical past. The extra totally he dominates his cohort, the extra stress is on him to transcend his technology and conquer the following; that is the man who’s going to surrender his world championship title out of boredom. Niemann doesn’t thoughts being the villain. He’s copped to dishonest as a junior, and he tends to piss folks off along with his brashness. When Niemann beat Carlsen for the primary time final month on the FTX Crypto Cup (weeks earlier than the Sinquefield assembly that induced Carlsen to depart the match), he gave an immediately meme-worthy, one-line interview. They’re each very humorous, in basically reverse methods.
Naturally, Carlsen crushed Niemann in three straight video games and received the Crypto Cup. Despite resigning in one move against Niemann (as a supremely petulant act of shit-talking) throughout their sport on the Julius Bär Technology Cup, Carlsen nonetheless received the group stage by a staggering 9 factors—for context, solely 4 factors separated the second- by eighth-place qualifiers. The entire level of the Technology Cup is to match up veterans in opposition to kids, and Carlsen crushed each single one in every of them besides Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. He gave his first interview on the feud since he withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup, and it was a characteristically dry one, although he did supply just a few nuggets.
“Sadly I can’t notably converse on that, however folks can draw their very own conclusion, they usually definitely have,” he mentioned when requested about why he withdrew. “I’ve to say I’m very impressed by Niemann’s play, and I feel his mentor Maxim Dlugy should be doing an ideal job.” Although he declined to say something too particular, he mentioned he thought it was “pretty simple” to cheat, dishonest shouldn’t be taken evenly, and he hoped “to say somewhat bit extra” after the match wrapped up.
That Maxim Dlugy line was a reasonably apparent breadcrumb. Dlugy is a Russian-American grandmaster with a, let’s say, colourful previous. He was at one level the most effective blitz participant on this planet, earlier than he went to work on Wall Road to run a hedge fund, which ultimately landed him in a Russian jail on embezzlement prices. In 2013, Dlugy caught infamous cheater Boris Ivanov, effectively, dishonest, by showing feet and challenging Ivanov to do the identical. When he refused, as a result of he nearly definitely had a phalangeal dishonest machine in his sneakers, Ivanov was compelled to forfeit. Then, 4 years later, Dlugy was banned from chess.com for dishonest throughout Titled Tuesday. Carlsen’s interview made it plain that he, a) believes Hans Niemann is dishonest as hell, however b) received’t straight-up say so and danger a lawsuit or FIDE sanctions by doing so with out laborious proof.
Niemann, in the meantime, secured his third-place qualification on the Technology Cup by beating Levon Aronian in simply 21 strikes. Afterwards, Aronian said, “I feel it was a wierd sport. I feel that Hans performed very very unusual strikes sooner or later and I feel that I misplaced my focus and blundered.” He later clarified that he didn’t essentially assume Niemann was dishonest in opposition to him, solely that Niemann’s historical past of dishonest on-line form of knocked him off his axis.
If Niemann and Carlsen meet once more on the Technology Cup, it’ll be within the remaining.