World chess champion Magnus Carlsen officially accused young American grandmaster Hans Niemann of cheating on Monday. A new escalation in one of the biggest scandals to have shaken the middle. For some, Magnus Carlsen is right to sound the alarm, while others accuse him of destroying the career of a young talent without solid proof. There is something rotten in the kingdom of chess. The world champion, the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen came out of silence, Monday, September 26, to officially accuse another player, the American Hans Moke Niemann of cheating. These allegations come to reignite a scandal that has rocked the chess world for almost a month, and seems to fascinate the world’s media far beyond the experts of the 64 squares. “I think Hans Niemann cheated more often – and more recently – than he himself admitted. […] During our game, I had the impression that he was not really focused at critical moments, while dominating me as only a very small number of players can do,” said Magnus Carlsen, who has five world champion titles.. “I don’t want to play against Hans Niemann anymore,” he added in his statement. David against Goliath or simple cheat? A clarification by Magnus Carlsen eagerly awaited by the gaming community, caught off guard by the world champion’s unprecedented behavior towards the young 19-year-old American grandmaster, who had the misfortune of beating him in a tournament at the beginning of September. It all started in Saint-Louis, in the United States, where the very prestigious Sinquefield Cup tournament took place from September 1st to 13th. On the third day of this competition, which brought together the cream of the international grandmasters (GM), Hans Niemann, the lowest ranked in the tournament in the Elo system which makes it possible to estimate the level of the players, defeated the undisputed champion of the world since 2013. And, in the opinion of many observers, the game was not even hooked: the American outsider made short work of the Norwegian giant. ignite chess fans. After all, Magnus Carlsen hadn’t lost a game in over two years. But from a mythical triumph, this victory turned into “ground zero” of the biggest chess scandal in decades. The day after his defeat, Magnus Carlsen announced that he was retiring from the tournament. An unprecedented decision for the world champion, which he does not deign to justify. He just adds to his withdrawal tweet a video of football coach José Mourinho declaring, in 2014, “if I speak I will have problems”. A well-understood implication in the world of chess. Very quickly, the commentators suspect that the king of the chessboard took this drastic decision because he considers to have been victim of Hans Niemann “the cheater”. The organizers have also reinforced measures against cheating, by setting up, for example, a more extensive search with a metal detector. And tongues are also starting to loosen up. Hikaru Nakamura, one of the most popular personalities among the chess elite (he has nearly 1.5 million subscribers on his Twitch channel where he plays live), implies that Hans Niemann has a history of cheater.Niemann, repentant cheaterIt would have been “more than impressive [contre Magnus Carlsen]”, adds with a knowing smile Ian Nepomniachtchi, the last unfortunate challenger of world champion, the day after the performance of the young American. The Russian player will specify, a few days later, that he had requested additional security measures when he learned of the participation of Hans Niemann. The latter had, in fact, been retained at the last minute to replace another player who had withdrawn. A way of suggesting that the use of cheating by Hans Niemann was an open secret in the chess world. The latter does not dispute it… Except that he claims to have only cheated online – Internet chess has exploded in recent years – and only twice, at age 12 and 16. Since then, he would be “clean”. He even offered to come and play naked to prove that he was not hiding any cheating utensil, such as a microphone or a pocket computer. But nothing helped. Two weeks later, Magnus Carlsen does it again. During a new face-to-face with the young American, this time on the Internet, he plays a first move… then gives up. For Hans Niemann it is too much. The player claims his illustrious opponent is looking to ruin his fledgling career. He fears becoming persona non grata among the chess elite when no proof of his alleged cheating has been provided. Other illustrious voices in this environment are also in the same direction. This is the case of French Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the current world champion in the 5-minute quick game, who believes that it is a little easy to cast doubt on a player without advancing the slightest proof. The organizers of the Sinquefield Cup have also assured that they have discovered no element suggesting that Hans Niemann could have cheated. Hence the importance of Magnus Carlsen’s clarification. Except that his press release is far from being the expected checkmate. The world champion is only relying on “an impression” while affirming that he does not want to play against opponents with a history of cheating because “you never know what to expect”. Statements which will probably not stop the rumor mill around “high tech” methods that Hans Niemann could have used to cheat in Saint-Louis. Sole or connected anal plug… Cheating is, in fact, a recurring problem in the world of chess. In 2006, world title contender Veselin Topalov accused incumbent champion Vladimir Kramnik of cheating when he went to the bathroom during their match. In France, Grand Master Sébastien Feller was found guilty in 2010 of having set up a whole cheating network which had allowed him to perform exceptionally well during the Chess Olympiads. But with the advent of computer king, players fear that cheating will become more and more sophisticated. In the case of Hans Niemann, the craziest theories circulated. Some have argued that he had connected insoles which allowed him to receive the strokes to be played by pulsation, transmitted by an acolyte seated behind a computer. Another rumor, even more bizarre and taken up by billionaire Elon Musk (who is definitely of all the controversies), claims that Hans Niemann was equipped with an anal plug which would work a little like the connected soles… but placed in another part of the body. It is moreover this detail which earned this scandal a wide media echo, even though the rumor is not based on anything concrete. However, this case illustrates one of the most important challenges for a game – or a sport for some – millennial which is changing in depth. The power of computers has turned practices upside down, from computer-assisted pre-match preparation to post-game analysis, greatly facilitated by the computing power of machines. Magnus Carlsen’s brilliant coup is also symptomatic of a generation of gamers who realize that their world may not be ready to deal with cheating 2.0. The measures in place have not changed much since the time when the main threat to fair play was that a player isolates himself in the toilet with a laptop. The world champion also qualifies cheating, in his press release , “of existential threat” for chess. He calls on the community to get up to speed with modern cheating techniques as quickly as possible. A warning cry that can be understood. Peter Svidler, a living legend of Russian chess, had already mentioned it during the Sinquefield Cup which he had commented on live. He assured that it was high time to have a discussion on the subject… While wondering if this justified sacrificing the career of a young talent, without formal proof.