It is the use of brain over brawn that has hindered chess from gaining a widespread following. It’s simply not interesting enough even for the sports fanatics, let alone the common populace. But a potential cheating scandal that is buzzing in the chess circuit for some time now has managed to capture everyone’s attention. The protagonist of this story is neither of the two players involved, nor the organizers, but a vibrating butt toy!
A few weeks ago, Magnus Carlsen’s 53-game unbeaten streak was snapped by a largely obscure teenager from America named Hans Niemann. That’s fine – winning and losing are part of the game. But something irked the grandmaster Carlsen, who decided to pull out his name from the rest of the tournament.
Carlsen withdrawing from the tournament is a big reason in itself. But then he ended up tweeting an old clip from Jose Mourinho, where the Chelsea manager says “I prefer really not to speak. If I speak I am in big trouble.” Mourinho used this after he felt he was wronged by the referee. Does Carlsen feel something wrong has happened with him in the Sinquefield Cup?
Other prominent players started analyzing the game but found nothing sinister in Hans Niemann’s moves. Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov’s verdict was that Carlsen “just played extremely badly”. The tournament officials then searched Niemann for electronic devices, if any, but found nothing.
Niemann 1 -0 Carlsen. You’d think so. But that’s not the end of it. It was still too hard for the world to accept Carlsen’s demeanor after the defeat. He is not a sore loser to insinuate an allegation of this level against his opponents.
While the organizers found nothing wrong with Niemann, the internet, as always, was lightning-quick to reach the conclusion that the American used some form of wearable technology to beat Carlsen. This is not unprecedented in chess. Many players are found to be using a vibration-based software device that helps them make the best moves. Niemann, meanwhile, himself has admitted to cheating in the past. But this time he denied it.
However, a fanfiction, first posted on Redditt, has added a completely unexpected twist to this story. A user postulated that Carlsen, for the majority of his career, used an anal bead that was connected to a computer through some form of wireless network and fed him the best moves. Carlsen conquered the world with that awkward half-forced smile on his face, and a vibrating toy into his derriere, or that’s what the user on Reddit wants us to believe.
But how come Hans Niemann is facing the charge? Well, there’s a strange twist in the tale, very similar to the overused narrative trope in sports drama where the villain perfects the trick used by the hero to beat him. Niemann played this entire game with a vibrating anal bead, and his toy inferred the signals of Carlsen’s device. That’s how the Norwegian came to know his opponent is cheating with the help of a device that he himself has used his entire career. And he withdrew his name from the tournament.
Niemann is yet to comment on this theory, fuelled by a Reddit post and has now gathered steam after streamers and news websites picked it up. He has publicly denied the claims, but public opinion is still against him. Albeit strange but for Niemann to gain true recognition, he must prove that he played the game without a vibrating toy.
Lead Image: Grand Chess Tour