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How to cheat in chess: the great scandals throughout history

The unfolding scandal revolving Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann is chess’s largest cheating problem in a long time.

Update:
Norwegian chess player Magnus Carlsen seen in 2019.
RITZAU SCANPIXREUTERS

Three weeks after his defeat against Hans Niemann in the Sinquefield Cup and after the controversy generated about the possible cheating of the American chess player, Magnus Carlsen, the opponent and one of the best chess players of all time, spoke publicly about the controversy surrounding his opponent.

I think Niemann has cheated more, much more recently, than he has publicly admitted”, read Carlsen’s statement. “His progress on the board has not been normal and during our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he was not tense or fully focused on the game with critical positions, while playing better with black in a way that I thought only a handful of players can do.”

“That game helped change my perspective.”

Three weeks after these statements, a report detailing Niemann’s cheating movements has been published on chess.com. The document, released by the company itself, consists of 72 pages, in which it is stated that Niemann “probably received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games”.

This amount of cheating was said to have taken place in mostly since 2020. It seems like the cheating saga may be reaching its endgame with Niemann likely to be banned from future events.

What are some of the other major chess cheating scandals?

Cheating using website like chess.com and lichess.org is much easier than cheating ‘over the table,’ the name used for chess between two opponents on a physical board. This is where Niemann’s cheating is said to have happened. This does not mean cheating is impossible, however, and there are many cases in history of it occuring.

In an 1852 book titled Chess Player, Volumes 1-4, the authors claim that medieval Danish and English King Cnut murdered a Danish noblemen, supposedly for cheating at chess.

Another method of cheating wouldbe two players agreeing upon a result of game before playing it. One supposed instance of this happening was at the 1962 Candidate Tournament to qualify for the 1963 World Championship. Three Soviet players all drew against each other, ensuring the three would be in the best position to qualify for the next round of the championship.