Magnus Carlsen just lost his first Classical game after a 53-game winstreak to 19-year-old prodigy, Hans Niemann. A day after, Carlsen withdrew and his cryptic tweet sparked a wave of controversy.

It is a wild, wild time for Chess. The current world champion, Magnus Carlsen, just lost his 53-Classical Game undefeated streak to the lowest-rated player at the tournament, Hans Niemann. Niemann’s rating skyrocketed to 2702, joining the Super Grandmasters lineup. Carlsen withdrew from the tournament and dropped a cryptic message. Now a rumor is floating around alleging Hans had a foul play.

It is one huge mess and we will break it down for you.

UPDATE: Hans Niemann has responded to Carlsen’s insinuation and the wave of controversy that followed. We covered the full response here.

A long-standing streak breaks in the hands of a young prodigy

Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann faced off in the Sinquefield Cup.
Credit: Lennart Ootes

The ongoing Sinquefield Cup, which hosts a lineup of the world’s top Chess players, is not only brewing with world-class chess but also bizarre drama. World no. 1, Magnus Carlsen recently dropped a Classical game against Hans Niemann, a 19-year-old chess prodigy. This breaks his 53-game win streak and this is HUGE news. But why is it even more shocking than it already is?

Hans Niemann wasn’t initially a part of the tournament’s lineup. He came in as a replacement for Richard Rapport who couldn’t make it due to covid-related restrictions, entering the Sinquefield Cup as the lowest-rated player. On September 5th, he ended Carlsen’s streak, winning with Black pieces. His rating jumped to 2702, joining the top of the GM iceberg. This is a colossal achievement for Niemann as he became the underdog who managed to join about 40 current GMs in the 2700s sphere.

In response to the win, Niemann said “it must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him.”

Carlsen withdraws from Sinquefield Cup and hinted at foul play

The next day after the huge upset, Carlsen announced his withdrawal from the tournament, inserting a meme of Mourinho saying, “I prefer not to speak, if I speak I’m in big trouble.” From this cryptic post, the community concluded that Carlsen suspects foul play.

After he announced his withdrawal, the organizer began enforcing a stricter anti-cheating system which strengthens the theory of possible foul play.

There is so far no solid evidence against Hans Niemann. However, there are a couple of incidents or points that are being brought up. One of them being his not-so-clean record on Chess.com. He had formerly been banned on the platform for cheating and several GMs have backed the fact including Hikaru Nakamura.

Carlsen’s uncharacteristic quit from the tournament should also be taken into account. This is the first time Carlsen has ever left a tournament halfway and many point out that if he would do such a move, it would be based on a strong notion. Nevertheless, Carlsen has not mentioned anything other than the cryptic tweet.

In response to Carlsen’s withdrawal, Niemann said, “I don’t want to draw any conclusions but it’s very strange. But at least I got to beat him before he left.”

The Sinquefield Cup continues without Magnus Carlsen, but the drama is still very much alive. We’ll have yet to see how the Sinquefield Cup unfolds and if Carlsen reveals his true reason for the withdrawal.

Find out the top GMs reacting to Carlsen’s withdrawal and the floating rumor!

Sarah Zulkiflee -

Sarah Zulkiflee

| Twitter: @kayzeesarah

Born and grew up in Malaysia, but a citizen of the world. High-key addicted to everything Dota 2. Spams support heroes but Ancient Apparition is an all-time favorite (a 100% Ice Blast accuracy). Only PMA during the day.