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Magnus Carlsen’s resignation brings into focus how world of chess has to watch out for cheats who are improvising by the day!

World chess body FIDE must swing into action as credibility of the sport is at stake, as cheating methods have advanced technologically.

Magnus Carlsen

Chess wizard Magnus Carlsen shocked fans the world over on Monday night, resigning after making just one move against Hans Niemann in the Julius Baer Generation Cup. 

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For a sport that has been considered to be clean all these years, news of the Norwegian switching off his webcam after just one move has brought into focus several issues.

This was not Carlsen’s first match against Niemann. It was actually a rematch after the latter had shocked the legend earlier in September in St Louis. At that time, Carlsen lost, playing White.

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Also Read| “Wireless anal beads”: Hans Niemann’s rather bizarre cheating controversy against World No.1 Magnus Carlsen

Chess world in state of shock as Magnus Carlsen resigns amid allegations of cheating by Niemann

Magnus Carlsen

Experts who were following the game live on Monday could not believe their eyes on Monday at what had transpired. Some said by making just one move, Carlsen had fulfilled his contractual obligations. Other voices, mostly sane, are talking about cheating in chess. And that is indeed worrying.

The way chess has evolved over the years has been phenomenal. It is not like the old days when watching chess was a traditional long drawn affair. Today, not only can you play rapid chess, but you can watch all the moves being played by the Grandmasters and also simulate it on your own chess board at home.

India has been blessed with an abundance of depth in chess, pioneered by V.Anand, world champion, and a living legend. Anand has not said anything on the subject till now, though. 

Chess in India has become immensely popular with the Olympiad held in Mahabalipuram, on the outskirts of Chennai in August becoming a super hit.

When Carlsen lost to R Praggnanandhaa, he was magnanimous in accepting defeat and congratulating the Indian wunderkind. There is more to it than meets the eye as far as Carlsen versus Niemann is concerned. The rise of the American kid, so to say, has been phenomenal. 

If one goes through the matrix of news online and on social media, there was doubt over the methods which Niemann had been using in the past. There are stories that suggest the 19-year-old Niemann has taken assistance from computers in the past to cheat in online games. 

More bizarre, or yuck, to hear was how Niemann has used “anal beads” to plan his moves on the chess board. The use of “anal beads” has been scoffed at by many, some calling it “Oh Shit!”

But that’s how the sport is these days, were playing fair and square is not necessarily in vogue. The Carlsen controversy has stirred the hornet’s nest. Old-timers may not agree with the usage of unfair means and how artificial intelligence also can play a role in a sport like chess.

No sport is clean today. One is not suggesting that there are cheats at large in every playing arena. Just as using unfair means to cheat in exams in schools and colleges has evolved, cheating in sports is not new. 

Chess is a cerebral game. And chess is a game where the computers have come up with so much exciting stuff, calculating at such crazy speeds, that the online games keep fans hooked.

The fear, so to say, is in cheats emerging in chess. After all, the biggest controversy to have rocked the sport of 64 squares is when Bobby Fischer accused erstwhile Soviet Union chess players of fixing matches, where they deliberately played draws. 

He had written an article on this subject in 1962. It did create a huge sensation. Fischer was alone for a long period after that, before passing away in 2008 due to renal failure, in the United States.

Just to jog the readers’ memory, during the 1999 cricket World Cup in England, a massive controversy erupted when South African coach Bob Woolmer, known as the laptop coach, used a novel method of communication. In the first match against India, at Hove, captain Hanse Cronje was spotted using an earpiece.

Woolmer was communicating with the captain and it had caught the attraction of TV commentators. That incident was nothing short of cheating. It created a massive furore and such earpiece usage was banned by the ICC. Sadly, both Woolmer and Cronje died later, in tragic, different circumstances.

Chess has been rocked. The world body FIDE needs to wake up and check if a sport that is so popular and played by so many countries has been plagued by cheating. The use of technology in sports has to be for the better. If there is something fishy, it has to be probed.

There is credibility at stake for the sport. Carlsen walking away after one move shocks us to the bones. And this controversy is not going to die soon. You can’t even call it “shit.”

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Also Read| What are ‘anal beads’ in chess, and what is the controversy surrounding them

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S.Kannan is a sportswriter with 35 years of experience. He has covered four Olympics, multiple Asian Games and the Grand Slams. Kannan has watched all sports at the grassroots level, national level and international level. He also does appear on radio shows.