Magnus Carlsen withdraws from Sinquefield Cup

GM Magnus Carlsen surprised the chess world by announcing his withdrawal from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup on Monday, tweeting his decision at the start of the fourth set.

Early in the round, Carlsen’s clock was started against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but Carlsen never showed up on the board and was forfeited after the 10-minute finish window expired.

Carlsen was 1.5/3 after losing in the previous round with White to GM Hans Niemann. According to tournament rules, because he did not complete 50% of his matches, Carlsen’s previous results will be voided from the tournament standings; however, the FIDE rating adjustments of these three games stand.

This is the first time Carlsen has withdrawn from a major event, and many have said such a withdrawal from an ongoing tournament for anything other than health reasons is virtually unprecedented in top-level chess. To find a precedent, we can go back to the 1967 Interzonal of Sousse where Bobby Fischer withdrew after 10 rounds due to disputes with the organizers.

Online chess fans and commentators were quick to speculate. GM Hikaru Nakamura speculated that Carlsen pulled out because he suspected Niemann of cheating in their game the day before, saying, “I think Magnus thinks Hans is probably cheating.”

In a post-match interview, Niemann mentioned that he prepared based on Carlsen’s use of g3 Nimzo-Indian against GM Wesley So in London in 2018. However, that game does not exist. It’s possible that Niemann was referring to a Carlsen-So quick game played in Kolkata in 2019.

In his postgame interview, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi shared his thoughts on the Carlsen-Niemann match, calling it “beyond impressive”.

After the round began, the Grand Chess Tour announced that it was taking additional anti-cheating precautions, including a 15-minute broadcast delay and increased radio frequency identification (RFID) checks.

Asked for comment, chess director Daniel Rensch said: “ does not publicly discuss fair play matters, and as such we decline to comment on the events of the Sinquefield Cup. and/or any speculation made by the community.”

The Carlsen team declined to comment.

Update: An earlier version of this article stated that was unable to locate another modern Carlsen game in the Nimzo-Indian g3 line. However, by transposition, a Carlsen-So quick game was played in Kolkata in 2019.

2022 Sinquefield Cup coverage

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