Not since The Queen's Gambit has the globe been so glued to chess drama.
Chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen has released a statement accusing his rival, Hans Niemann, of cheating after recently resigning during a game with him.
This was Carlsen's first time putting his allegations into words. But the drama started when Niemann surprisingly beat Carlsen during the Sinquefield Cup this month, only for Carlsen to withdraw from the tournament and strongly imply on social media something nefarious had happened; he tweeted a meme that said, "If I speak, I am in big trouble."
Followers quickly seized on this to claim Niemann may have cheated, with some going as far as to speculate, without evidence, that he used anal beads. Niemann denied cheating during the tournament, but he admitted he cheated when he was 12 and 16 during online games.
A week after the Sinquefield Cup, Carlsen shockingly resigned from another game with Niemann after only playing a single move. Now, Carlsen has alleged Niemann "cheated more — and more recently — than he has publicly admitted," claiming it was suspicious that during Sinquefield, "He wasn't tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions."
While Carlsen still didn't point to any evidence of cheating, he announced he is "not willing" to play against Niemann going forward. Niemann hasn't responded to Carlsen's latest statement, but he previously offered to play a game "fully naked" to put the allegations to rest.
"I don't care. Because I know I am clean," he said, per The Guardian. "You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don't care. I'm here to win and that is my goal regardless."