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The Juiciest (Alleged) Cheating Scandals Of 2022

BuzzFeed CyberS

The Juiciest (Alleged) Cheating Scandals Of 2022

One of the more unexpected cheating disputes this year came from the world of chess, which has exploded in popularity since the pandemic began. In September, 19-year-old Hans Niemann won a game against 32-year-old world champion Magnus Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup, a tournament in St. Louis with a $350,000 purse. Carlsen quit the tournament the next day and suggested in a tweet that Niemann, who already has a reputation as an obnoxious player, had cheated. (A joke about Niemann using vibrating anal beads to get signals about what moves to make quickly spread on social media. You can read more about this here.)

Niemann confessed to cheating in online games on Chess.com when he was 12 and again at 16, but never during an in-person match and not during the Sinquefield Cup, where he eventually placed sixth in the final standings. Observers were dubious of his performance. The teen had recently won a game against Carlsen a few weeks earlier at the FTX Crypto Cup, but lost his next three games to the champion, who eventually won the tournament (Niemann placed 17th). Chess.com removed Niemann from the platform, and in October it released a report accusing him of cheating in more than 100 games on the site. But there’s another element complicating this feud: Skeptics point out that in August, Chess.com had offered to buy the Carlsen’s online chess company Play Magnus (in which he has a 9% stake) for $82.9 million and thus has an interest in protecting the World Chess Champion’s reputation in the game (the deal has yet to clear regulatory approval). Chess.com denied this in an article in the New York Times. Niemann’s supporters also said there is simply no evidence he cheated at Sinquefield. In October, he filed a defamation lawsuit against Carlsen, Play Magnus, Chess.com and one of its executives, and Hikaru Nakamura (a top player accused of bolstering the cheating accusation), seeking $100 million in damages. There’s a lot that remains to be settled, but the controversy raises provocative questions about how a self-professed cheater can find redemption, and how the world’s best chess player decided to voice concerns about his younger opponent. —Venessa Wong

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