Thursday, September 15, 2022

Chess and anal beads in the media? Blame Magnus Carlsen

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Things have moved on and things have got worse since I blogged about the accusation of cheating against Hans Niemann by the Norwegian world chess champion Magnus Carlsen.

You may recall that the 19-year-old American Niemann defeated Carlsen in the opening rounds of a tournament, whereupon Carlsen withdrew from the event and posted a tweet that was widely taken as insinuating that his opponent had cheated.

Since then Carlsen has said nothing, despite the former champion Garry Kasparov's headmasterly advice that:

"The world title has its responsibilities, and a public statement is the least of them here."

So Niemann has been left trying to clear his name when it's not clear even what the charge against him is.

In the resultant vacuum speculation has flourished. The wackiest theory, boosted by a tweet from Elon Musk, is that Niemann was receiving outside help from someone with a computer and that the moves to play were passed on to him by vibrating anal beads.

Quite how the moves would be signalled has not been explained and it all sounds very uncomfortable. Imagine if you got into a time scramble!

I was going to say this is not the image of chess that anyone wants to see in the media, but Rolling Stone has published an article headed "Vibrating Butt Toys Are Exactly What Chess Needs."

Nor did Niemann do anything to calm journalists when he offered to play chess naked to prove he is not cheating.

But in the continuing absence of any clear charges, let alone proof, I shall go on regarding Carlsen as a sore loser - "sulky up the fijord" as my Stanley Unwin speech on Europe speech once put it. 

And I shan't regard Niemann as a sore winner either.

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