Chess’s biggest drama escalated yet again Monday afternoon, with Magnus Carlsen resigning in protest after just two moves in a rematch against Hans Niemann, who was accused of cheating against Carlsen in a recent tournament, sending the chess world into a tizzy.
The moment, which occurred during a preliminary matchup in the Julius Baer Generation Cup, stunned the event’s announcers, who were speculating about what opening moves Niemann would play. The match took place virtually over Microsoft Teams and on the online chess platform Chess24. Carlsen turned his webcam on, made one move, resigned, then turned his camera off and disappeared. He did not say anything.
“Well, it’s very difficult to say [what opening move Niemann would make], because Hans is also playing a lot of first moves,” announcer Peter Leko said. “He plays D4 … Knight F6 …” Carlsen then resigned. “And what?,” Leko said, shocked. “No. No. What happened? That’s it?”
“What?” Tania Sachdev, the other announcer, said. “We’re going to try to get an update on this. Magnus Carlsen just resigned. Got up, and left. Switched off his camera, and that’s all we know right now.”
“Wow. Speechless, yeah?” Leko responded. “What to say, what to say? And the story continues.”
“This is unprecedented. I just, I can’t believe it,” Sachdev said. “Did that just happen, Peter? Magnus just refusing to play against Hans. He will play the tournament, but he is saying I will not play the game against him. That’s making a very big statement.”
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Both Sachdev and Leko continued speaking for a few minutes, totally shocked, and said they would seek more information from Carlsen. “The internet is exploding right now,” Sachdev said. “Twitter is exploding right now.”
This follows, of course, the absolute shitstorm that happened two weeks ago, when Niemann beat Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup, one of chess's largest tournaments. Carlsen cryptically posted a clip from soccer manager Jose Mourinho in which he seemingly implied Niemann had cheated against him. Whether Niemann cheated or not instantly became the only topic of conversation in chess; some speculated that Niemann was leaked Carlsen’s strategy ahead of time, while others more fancifully suggested that he somehow used a “shoe computer” connected to an AI chess engine.
No public evidence of cheating has thus far come out, but Niemann was banned from playing on Chess.com, the world’s largest online chess platform. He has been allowed to continue playing on Chess24, the second-largest online chess platform and the one being used by the Julius Baer Generation Cup.