Cheating in competitive events is nothing new. The New England Patriots were accused of deflating footballs, Lance Armstrong admitted to doping his way to victory in the Tour de France. Even video game speedrunning has seen rampant cheating. Why then should the world of chess be immune to such chicanery and deception? Turns out, it’s not immune, and good golly are people allegedly going to great lengths to find ways to success. By “great lengths,” we mean using vibrating anal beads to signal which move to make.
Hans Niemann is a 19 year old chess player who has very quickly ascended the ranks of the chess world. His ascension culminated in a victory this month against the 31 year-old Norwegian grandmaster, Magnus Carlsen. Often times when someone rises up so quickly in terms of success, it can rub people the wrong way. Sometimes there are elements of jealousy that someone can be so young and talented, other times there’s suspicion that their rise to glory may have been aided through illegitimate means.
Niemann has not been immune to these reports. It doesn’t help either that he’s admitted to cheating when he was younger. At the age of 12, he utilized a computer program to help him pick moves based on what the AI considered to be the best choice. It’s easy to do something like this when you’re competing virtually. It’s not as easily done when you’re in person, around other people. You’d have to be very careful about what you’re doing, making sure your details are hidden. You’d have to be very exact; anal even.
Speaking of anal, that’s exactly the kind of rumor that has arisen about how Niemann managed to beat Carlsen. Online speculation started circulating that Niemann somehow had someone nearby, transmitting movies to him by wirelessly stimulating anal beads placed within Niemann’s anus. In fairness, this seems to be a result of Reddit mocking the whole incident while simultaneously agreeing that Niemann probably cheated in some way.
Lending credence to the idea that some sort of trickery was going on is that Carlsen withdrew from the tournament after his defeat. Apparently it’s not a single elimination tournament; there were more rounds to play but Carlsen withdrew from it without any explanation. Instead, he just gave a cryptic tweet that seemed to reference some sort of deception behind the scenes. As pointed out by chess legend, Garry Kasparov, this kind of action is almost unheard of in high level chess tournaments, especially from a Grandmaster. Did Carlsen suspect foul play, or was he just upset about losing to someone with Niemann’s youth and questionable history?
Niemann himself has naturally denied all allegations of cheating. If he’s sincere about his past cheating being something he has moved on from, then his victory is legitimate and a testament to his abilities. Besides, if he was using anal beads, how would that even work to signify what move to make? Does it vibrate diagonally to indicate moving a bishop? Maybe it vibrates in every direction at once to move the queen?
Even though the anal beads part of this is just the internet being the internet, there is something more substantive to this case in general. Cheating has been a part of sports and competitive events for years. The idea of a young upstart being accused of it in order to work their way into the upper echelon is also not unheard of. In a way, it’s kind of like a movie plot. Imagine if “Searching For Bobby Fischer” was combined with “Quiz Show.” Oh, and the participants were walking around with anal beads stuck up their butts the entire film. Actually, probably best you don’t imagine that.