Chess: Did Niemann cheat? 'No evidence' say experts, but saga is lesson for players

Hans Niemann has "cheated more - and more recently - than he has publicly admitted", said fellow Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen. PHOTO: HANS NIEMANN/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - World champion chess player Magnus Carlsen's stunning accusations on Monday about rival player Hans Niemann have turned on the spotlight on cheating in the game, an issue that Singaporean grandmaster Kevin Goh said could lead to international federations and tournament organisers taking stronger action to prevent it from occurring.

Carlsen, world champion since 2013, posted a lengthy statement on Twitter in which he called cheating in chess an "existential threat" to the game.

The saga involving both players started three weeks ago, when Carlsen abruptly withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup after losing to fellow Grandmaster Niemann for the first time after 53 matches. After weeks of frenzied speculation over cheating allegations against Niemann, the Norwegian's statement appeared to confirm the rumours.

Carlsen stated his belief that the American - has "cheated more - and more recently - than he has publicly admitted", vowing that he will not play against people who have "cheated repeatedly in the past".

Goh, who is vice-president of the Singapore Chess Federation, noted that Carlsen is "well-known as a world champion with integrity, and a strong advocacy of fair play in chess".

"I think this statement and his actions, while controversial and perhaps not to the liking of every chess player, are consistent with his principled approach in regard to fair play," he said.

"They also bring attention to cheating in chess, which I agree, is an existential threat to chess whether online or over the board."

With this furore not about to abate any time soon, Goh believes that Niemann is "certainly going to see a decrease in his invitations" and he would "see his results deteriorate, whether he is a cheater or not".

On the issue of cheating, he added: "Hopefully all stakeholders, including organisers, chess parents and chess federations undertake strong actions to prevent cheating.

"This saga could be used as an educational case study, to explain to young players that cheating is just wrong whether is it on the Internet or in real life, and that we are all accountable for our actions."

Players from all around the world have chimed in on the matter, including top local players like Goh, woman grandmaster and 2019 SEA Games gold medallist Gong Qianyun, and 15-year-old Siddharth Jagadeesh international master (one rung below grandmaster). They had analysed the Carlsen-Niemann game and told ST previously that they did not suspect foul play.

This is an opinion shared by Kenneth Regan, the world's top expert in cheating detection in chess. He was screening the tournament as an official and told Al Jazeera recently there was "no evidence of cheating in that match".

Regan relies on a predictive analytics model which studies players' moves and flags deviations relative to their standard or rating.

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