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Yesterday, Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup 2022 after his loss to Hans Niemann in Round 3. Multiple tweets, streams, comments, and security checks later, the accusation of Niemann cheating is pretty obvious!
Magnus Carlsen lost to the lowest rated player, Hans Niemann in Round 3....

(from https://worldchess.com/news/all/did-hans-niemann-actually-cheat-all-the-info-so-far/ )

If Hans Niemann is cheating, how?

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8 Answers 8

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The simple answer is that he is not cheating. Magnus just played badly. Had Magnus had proof he would have presented it at least to the arbiter. He didn't.

The chief arbiter, Chris Bird agrees with me. He released this statement.

2022 Sinquefield Cup

Chief Arbiter's Statement

SAINT LOUIS, September 10, 2022 - In response to the recent rumors circulating the chess world, I can confirm that we currently have no indication that any player has been playing unfairly in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup. This includes all rounds played to date.

We have been running all the Grand Chess Tour events, including the Sinquefield Cup, and other major tournaments here in Saint Louis, for many years with the same strict anti-cheating measures that were in place for rounds 1-3, and we are not aware of any fair play violations during these past events. These measures included scanning of players with metal detectors prior to games and randomly after games, close observation of the players and fair play analysis by Professor Kenneth Regan using the FIDE Game Screening Tool.

However, on behalf of all the players and the event, I consulted with Grand Chess Tour Chief Arbiter, IA David Sedgwick, and together we advocated that additional anti-cheating measures be enacted after round 3. These measures included the scanning of players with RF scanners and a 15-minute delay on the live broadcast. I am very thankful to the organizers in Saint Louis who immediately agreed to these requests, despite additional expenses, last-minute technical issues and the loss of a truly live broadcast.

The arbiter team will continue to remain vigilant, and all of the anti-cheating measures that have been in place will continue to be so for the remainder of this event.

IA Chris Bird
Chief Arbiter, 2022 Sinquefield Cup
Grand Chess Tour Deputy Chief Arbiter

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I agree with Brian Towers, that the most likely scenario is that Hans didn't cheat (despite his weird behaviour in the interviews), as indicated by an engine check of the game.

How would he have done it?

OTB cheating sometimes happens. Usually, cheating individuals use hidden mobile phones on the toilet (e.g. like GM Igor Rausis). At top tournaments like the Sinquefield Cup, this isn't possible, as the players can't bring electronic devices (and also can't hide anything in the restrooms): they're scanned from head to toe (yes, shoes are also scanned).

The other way he could have cheated is by having an accomplice. This is also not very easy to pull off. GM Eric Hansen suggested that Niemann used remote-controlled anal beads. The absurdity of this idea tells you that even GMs aren't sure how he could have pulled this off (or GM Hansen just doesn't want to tell everyone how he does it ;) ). Naturally, Hansen evoked headlines around the world, especially in the yellow press. You can use your imagination to come up with a vibration protocol for transmitting moves (shouldn't be too hard). To make this cheat even harder, they introduced a delay after the game (but this was probably just for the sake of alleviating the affair of Magnus' retreat).

Let me add, that if we could easily answer this question, the security measures at the Cup would be insufficient. They would already have taken a countermeasure if any easy way to cheat existed. Tournament organizers and FIDE make sure in advance that any obvious cheating ideas are prevented. That includes help from electronic devices or third parties.

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    As for accomplices, the playing hall is not open to the public, so it would have to be someone working for the Saint Louis Chess Club.
    – qwr
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 3:54
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    Magnus should apologise ft commenting without facts and proofs
    – ShadYantra
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 18:49
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Things to keep in mind before reading this:
I do not like cheating, and I do not support it in any way.
Did he cheat? I do not know, I do not have any proof.
Why may he cheat? To beat Carlsen, because he was the strongest player in the tournament.
Let's imagine for this answer that he did cheat, to make things easier for us. How then?

Hauptideal mentioned "anal beads" and called it "absurd". Why? What do you really need in order to cheat as a GM?
Well, yes, there was that 15 minute delay, but after Carlsen's game, not in advance of it.
So we ignore that delay for now (but that is not a huge problem, just send the GM the moves for the 5 most probable reactions of the other player).

Let's think a bit:
We need something to calculate good moves for us. No problem, we can take any powerful enough PC and run an engine on it, no matter where it is at that moment.

Then we need to somehow tell the GM the move. Firstly we can use the public internet to bring the move close to him (like within a kilometer).

Then we need to get it right to him. Again, no problem, let's use LoRa (see Wikipedia article). This technology uses low power and covers a reasonable distance. The downside is that it is really slow. Really really slow. According to Wikipedia, it can transmit 292 bit/s up to 50 kbit/s. But that's more than enough: you can even transmit multiple possible moves within one second (each move needs two numbers between 1 and 64, that would be 2 * 6 bits per move). The device to do that can use WIFI or the normal cellphone network to connect to the internet, and would be as small as a pack of matches (including a battery). You can hide it literally anywhere within one kilometer (the range is theoretically higher, but let's say we limit it to a one kilometer range, to make sure it definitely works). So we can send the move to the GM.

But how can he receive it, without getting flagged by the scanners?
Firstly, he does not need to transmit anything: his receiver has only to be a receiver. So RF scanners are completely useless.
Secondly: The device must be quite small. Let's come back to the "anal beads". These are more or less small. You can easily fit a vibrator inside one - look at the ones used in smartphones: they are tiny, but quite powerful. Just need a little microcontroller, a tiny battery and an antenna. That's it.

If the metal detectors are not so sensitive, that is not a problem. Build the receiver out of plastic, and only the parts which really need to be metal out of metal, and you should not have a problem.
The receiver can have any size from a small ball up to the size and shape of a USB drive. If it is not bigger than this, you can even swallow it (there are tiny cameras with batteries you can swallow, which then transmit pictures of your digestive system to the doctor).
You just need to find a way to make it silent enough, but that should be doable as well...

Only way to find it is Xray.
Then use morse code or binary code or something.
Done. You just cheated.

How realistic is that?
I think it is definitely doable. Doable enough that I could build it without any problem. I could not use it, because I would lose during the opening of the game, and this would show its potential during long thinking periods (mid-game, end-game).

Ways to prevent that (you need all of them):
Not broadcasting the game at all.
Putting the players in a completely enclosed metal box.
No spectators.
The arbiters must be unbribable.
You have to prevent any RF transmissions (RF jammer, but you will get in trouble with police than).

EDIT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uDM3fPeNFM this is a build of such a device (not by me). I think, you can build it even smaller, if you want to.

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I'm surprised so many people are discussing cheating during the game. Most likely that is not what happened at all.

What is most likely, I believe, is that Carlsen had a suspicion that his prep has been leaked by someone on his team. Not just now but in the recent past as well. So to prove to himself that suspicion he prepared with a very obscure line.

The fact that Niemann admitted that "by some miracle" he looked at that exact one game from many years ago where Carlsen played the same line before is as close as you can get to an admission of guilt, that he knew beforehand what Carlsen is going to play.

So if Niemann had access to Carlsen's prep, anyone could have had access to it. So it's logical to withdraw from the tournament.

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Some people claim that he 'chewed gum' during the game (which can be observed), and that he swallowed it afterward (which I cannot verify). They also claim that the gum foil wrapper can shield from scanners (which I don't know). A vibrating device inside a fake wad of gum can easily convey enough information to help grandmasters. Even if these claims are debunked, there are many other possible ways to cheat, but I don't want to reveal it in case future cheaters get ideas. I mention the gum hypothesis because others have already suggested it.

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Naroditsky said that he was once at an open tournament where a lower-rated player beat him at a game where one particular observer stood around, basically throughout the game. It was later revealed that that observer had a phone on him, which was against the rules.

This less technological way of cheating (making arrangements with other people who are on the site) is to my mind far more feasible than any of the wild suggestions concerning anal beads or electronic chewing gum.

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Look carefully at the start of the Sinquefield game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK8wuQxCRGo

It is the water-bottle. Niemann pretends to sip from his bottle before his first and his third move.

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    It is what?Do you suggest he uses the water toncheat somehow? Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 14:12
  • @VladimirFГероямслава It's smart water (haha)
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 30 at 9:09
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The chess clock can be used as an electronic receiver. A simple radio signal at a particular frequency could cause a very subtle interference pattern on the display that could be interpreted as a particular piece to move or some other hint.

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