- Here’s one story we couldn’t have made up even if we tried.
There’s been a lot happening in chess lately. This is strange, considering you don’t really ever hear anything about the chess world.
A while back, a chess robot broke a 7-year-old player’s finger during a Russian chess tournament. And now, the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis featured a massive surprise.
Nobody got injured, but one of the games ended with a chess-world-shaking result. Magnus Carlsen — a grandmaster and the five-time reigning world chess champion — lost his game.
The shocking part is that he lost it to Hans Niemann. Although Niemann is a seasoned chess player, by all probability he shouldn’t have bested Carlsen.
Yet, he did. And naturally, due to the shocking twist, Niemann is now facing accusations that he cheated — by using vibrating anal beads.
No, we’re not making this up.
Probability of Victory: Near Zero
Let’s take a step back and start from the beginning. The game in question took place on September 4 during the Sinquefield Cup, a major chess tournament and the final event of the Grand Chess Tour.
Due to the high profile of the event, it’s no wonder that Carlsen was playing. The 31-year-old chess phenomenon has been famous since he was 13. He’s the current reigning chess champion and has won both the Grand Chess Tour and Sinquefield Cup twice.
Niemann, for his part, is also a chess grandmaster, but in the context of the Sinquefield Cup, he’s still a relative nobody. The 19-year-old was the lowest-ranked player in the entire tournament.
He has beaten Carlsen once in an online tournament. That said, it was a non-classical game, and Carlsen promptly proceeded to trounce Niemann in the following two games.
Finally, in St. Louis, Carlsen was coming strong out of a 53-game winning stream. In the match against Niemann, Carlsen was also playing white, which has a small but statistically significant advantage due to getting to move first.
In summary, Carlsen shouldn’t have lost — but lose he did. Even Niemann seemed to be surprised by the result. In a follow-up interview, he called his victory a miracle.
“I think he was just so demoralized because he’s losing to an idiot like me. It must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him,” said Niemann.
Is that genuine bewilderment or a thinly veiled humblebrag? You decide.
‘If I Speak, I’m in Big Trouble’
Carlsen really must have been demoralized, though, since the day after his loss to Niemann, he dropped out of the Sinquefield Cup. To put that into perspective, this is the first time this chess juggernaut has withdrawn from any tournament.
Why would he do that? Well, Carlsen hinted at his reasons in a cryptic tweet, which featured a video clip of Portuguese football coach Jose Mourinho saying: “If I speak, I’m in big trouble.”
Plenty of chess enthusiasts took the tweet as an accusation that Niemann cheated. Now, let us be clear — there’s no evidence of him cheating. But that hasn’t stopped the speculation of how he could’ve done it.
The most common method of cheating in chess is obtaining outside advice on the ongoing game. Most commonly, cheaters achieve this through hidden communications devices — but we can fairly confidently say Niemann wasn’t wearing an earpiece.
But is there some other method he could’ve used?
A Buzz Up His Butt?
It was at this point that someone brought up a theoretical method of cheating in chess. It was recently published in the blog of James Stanley, a British programmer and chess enthusiast.
Stanley’s experimental method includes using a clandestine camera to observe the game and feed the information to a small, hidden computer running a chess engine. Chess engines are computer programs that analyze chess games for optimal moves.
The computer would then transmit its analysis to the cheating player through vibrating devices hidden in their shoes. But as far as anyone is aware, Niemann’s shoes were normal.
This led to someone coming up with the wild idea that Niemann’s vibrating device was hidden elsewhere. Namely, up his rectum.
The idea that Niemann used a vibrating anal sex toy to cheat in chess seems utterly bizarre. Perhaps that’s why Elon Musk felt the need to voice his support for the theory.
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one can see (cause it’s in ur butt),” Musk quipped in a now-deleted tweet.
Despite the ludicrous nature of the allegations, they have caused Niemann harm. The largest chess website Chess.com has banned Niemann from its tournaments until he can show “detailed evidence” relevant to the accusations.
What, is the man supposed to submit an X-ray of his lower colon at the time of the match or something?
There’s also a Winner
For our part, don’t know if Niemann cheated. But if — hypothetically — he cheated, we doubt he had a bunch of anal beads stuffed up his butt during the game.
The same goes for the Sinquefield Cup’s hosts.
“A player’s decision to withdraw from a tournament is a personal decision, and we respect Magnus’ choice. We look forward to hosting Magnus at a future event in St. Louis,” said Tony Rich, executive director of St. Louis Chess Club which organizes the tournament.
The ultimate winner of this year’s Sinquefield Cup was Iranian-French Alireza Firouzja. He took home the event’s grand prize — a neat $100,000.
No one’s accused him of having a secret buzzer in his ass, though.