Fide rebukes Carlsen for resignation but ‘shares concerns’ over cheating in chess

The international chess federation (Fide) has rebuked the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, for abruptly conceding an online game against Hans Niemann.

In a statement released on Friday, Fide told Carlsen “there were better ways to handle the situation” – but added that it shared the Norwegian’s concerns surrounding cheating in the sport, and reiterated its “zero-tolerance policy” on the matter.

Carlsen resigned after just one move against the American Niemann at the Julius Baer Generation Cup this week. Earlier this month, the Norwegian left an over-the-board tournament, the Sinquefield Cup, following a loss to the same opponent.

The surprise defeat and Carlsen’s subsequent withdrawal from the events in St Louis sparked widespread controversy and speculation. Carlsen did not comment further but the American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura claimed the withdrawal was because Carlsen suspected his opponent had “probably cheated”.

In their statement, Fide said it was its duty to protect the integrity of chess given recent events involving the two players. “We strongly believe that the world champion has a moral responsibility attached to his status, since he is viewed as a global ambassador of the game,” the governing body said. “We strongly believe that there were better ways to handle this situation.”

Fide added that it was prepared to task its Fair Play Commission with a thorough investigation of the incident once adequate initial proof was provided. Carlsen has not made any direct allegations against any player, while Niemann has denied any wrongdoing in his match against Carlsen in St Louis.

“We share [Carlsen’s] deep concerns about the damage that cheating brings to chess,” the statement from the Fide president, Arkady Dvorkovich, added. “Fide has led the fight against cheating for many years, and we reiterate our zero-tolerance policy toward cheating in any form.”

“Fide is prepared to task its Fair Play commission with a thorough investigation of the incident, when the adequate initial proof is provided, and all parties involved disclose the information at their disposal. We are fully aware that, in some cases, uncertainty can harm players’ performance. It also can be damaging to a player’s reputation – that’s why we insist on the anti-cheating protocols to be followed.”

Niemann had previously been banned from, having admitted he had not played fairly in non-competitive games on the website in his youth. The 19-year-old has categorically denied allegations of cheating in his match with Carlsen.

“I have never cheated in an over-the-board game,” Niemann said, adding that he was even prepared to play naked, in “a closed box with zero electronic transmission”, in order to prove his innocence.