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Chess grandmasters end ‘anal beads’ cheating dispute

Chess grandmasters Hans Niemann, Magnus Carlson, and website Chess.com, end the dispute that brought 'vibrating anal beads' into chess cheating discourse.

Hans Niemann and Magnus Carlsen end alleged chess cheating feud - a white and a black chess king shake hands

A year-long dispute over alleged tournament-level chess cheating comes to a close, as rival chess grandmasters Hans Niemann, Magnus Carlsen, and chess website Chess.com publish a joint statement affirming their intention to play nicely together.

In a blog post published on Friday on Chess.com, Carlsen says he accepts “there is no determinative evidence that Niemann cheated” when the pair faced off in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup chess tournament.

Accusations against Niemann began to circulate in September 2022 and gained internet notoriety. Commentors had some lurid theories about how to play chess in full view of tournament judges while receiving covert information. Canadian grandmaster Eric Hansen mused in a Twitch feed (archived on Twitter) that a player ‘wearing’ a set of remote-controlled anal beads could receive coded messages encoded into vibrations. Naturally, this was the theory that the internet picked up and ran with.

The statement issued on Chess.com has nothing to say about sex-toy enabled cheating. Niemann has always denied any in person cheating, and Chess.com published a report in October 2022 stating that it had found no “determinative” evidence of Niemann cheating during in-person games – though it accused him of seriously unsportsmanlike conduct in many games.

Youngster Niemann and then-world-champion Carlsen were paired in the third round of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup on September 4. Niemann won the match, after which Carlsen immediately dropped out of the tournament, fuelling online speculation that he was protesting against cheating.

Niemann gave an interview after round five of the tournament on September 7 to the Saint Louis Chess Club, below, in which he asserted he had never cheated in an in-person match:

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At the same time, Chess.com suspended Niemann’s account and ability to participate in its tournaments, making a public statement on September 8 that it had contacted him with evidence explaining the decision. Carlsen again faced off against Niemann on September 19 in the 2022 Julius Baer Generation Cup, but resigned after making a single move.

Carlsen made a statement via Twitter on September 26, accusing Niemann of more widespread cheating.

In October 2022 Chess.com published a 72-page report with its alleged evidence that Niemann had cheated in over 100 online games, including games for prizes, prior to August 2020. Niemann responded with a $100 million defamation lawsuit against Carlsen, Chess.com, and grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who repeated some of Carlsen’s claims about Niemann on his YouTube channel.

The Wall Street Journal covered the original scandal in depth: here’s the paper’s full video summary of the affair.

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Niemann’s lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in June 2023. Since then “both sides have negotiated privately in a good-faith effort to resolve their issues and allow the chess world to move forward without further litigation”, according to Chess.com’s statement from Friday.

An embarrassing affair for the chess world, all told. If you enjoy deceiving your opponents, we have a guide to social deduction games where your skills will be put to better use. If you clicked on this article because of the words “anal beads” in the headline, may we direct you to our guides to sex board games, sex card games, and sex dice games?