Chess champ shocks world after resigning after one move in anticipated match
Twitter/Chess24.com

It’s the biggest cheating scandal of the year, and possibly the biggest story in chess since the invention of the game itself.

Hans Niemann is the figure at the centre of the drama, who stands accused of cheating in games against some of the biggest names to have ever played.

It first made headlines in September, and the story keeps developing as further twists and turns from one of the most fascinating episodes in modern sport continue to emerge.

Here’s a timeline of all the events involved.

September 4 - Niemann beats Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen lost his first game in 53 matches in SeptemberDean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The event that sparked it all came back in September, when Niemann – then a relative outsider in the match – beat grandmaster and reigning five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup.

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The upset marked the first time Niemann had lost in 53 games, and the fact that Carlsen had the first move with the whites made it even more surprising.

Niemann rubbed the result in by saying in an interview afterwards: “It must be embarrassing for the World Champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him!”

September 5 – Carlsen withdraws from the tournament

The next day, things escalated after Carlsen withdrew from the next round of the tournament.

The pair had been due to play each other again, but the game was delayed by 15 minutes as security stepped up their attempts to ensure no one was cheating by smuggling in equipment. Niemann was reportedly scanned for 90 seconds on his way to play.

Carlsen then pulled out and didn’t explain his decision. Instead, he tweeted a clip of Jose Mourinho saying: “If I speak I am in big trouble.”

September 6 - Rumours begin to spread online

Things took another unexpected turn after player Eric “ChessBrah” Hansen tried to claim that Niemann had signals conveyed to him via anal beads. The story really reached a wider audience after Elon Musk discussed the claims on Twitter.

Musk contorted a quote from German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer to fit the situation, writing: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one can see (cause it’s in ur butt)” – Schopenhauer”

“Flattered owner of the anal bead theory that made its way all the way to Elon,” Hansen wrote afterwards.

September 7 – Niemann denies the claims

Niemann: I Have NEVER Cheated Over The Board | Round 5www.youtube.com

Niemann made the decision to address the situation and deny the allegations.

Despite admitting that he cheated in online chess games as a child, he said as part of his defence: “I am not going to let Chess.com, I am not going to let Magnus Carlsen, I’m not going to let Hikaru Nakamura [another player who had been discussing the story online], the three arguably biggest entities in chess, simply slander my reputation.”

He also stated that he’d play naked in order to show people he wasn’t cheating.


September 19 – Carlsen quits after one move

Things were blown wide open again two weeks later after Carlsen quit a rematch against Niemann just one move in.

The grandmaster left commentators on online platform Chess24 speechless after signing off the online game almost straight away during the match in the Julius Baer Generation Cup.

Carlsen didn’t say a word as he left the match, and the commentators were left stunned by his actions.


September 26 – Carlsen releases a statement

A week later, Carlsen made his position very clear and explained his decision to quit the game.

The grandmaster hadn’t officially stated that thought his opponent was cheating before but released a statement via Twitter saying he believes Niemann cheated but he cannot speak to it.

"There is more I would like to say," Carlsen wrote. "Unfortunately, at this time I am limited in what I can say without explicit permission from Niemann to speak openly.


October 4 – Niemann accused of cheating by Chess.com report

After weeks of speculation, Niemann’s reputation was dealt a major blow after a report claimed that he cheated in more than 100 games.

While the 19-year-old had admitted cheating twice in games when he was aged 12 and 16, an investigation has allegedly found more occasions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper states that the report by chess.com, a platform where many of the world’s top chess players compete in online matches, alleges “that Niemann likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games, as recently as 2020. Those matches included contests in which prize money was on the line.”

The report has claimed that Niemann cheated "much more often" than he has acknowledged. However, it did state that no evidence had been found of him cheating in his game against Carlsen or in any "over-the-board" games.


October 5 - Niemann gets an all body scan

After the allegations were made in the report, Niemann received a very thorough all body scan at a US championship game and looked less than impressed...

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