Carlsen Criticises Lack Of Anti-Cheating Measures After Stunning Defeat
Suleymenov shocked Carlsen in round two. Photo: Keti Tsatsalashvili/Qatar Masters.

Carlsen Criticises Lack Of Anti-Cheating Measures After Stunning Defeat

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World number-one Magnus Carlsen confessed he was "completely crushed" by 23-year-old Kazakh GM Alisher Suleymenov in round two of the 2023 Qatar Masters, but afterward blamed a failure to concentrate on his opponent wearing a watch in contravention of the usual anti-cheating rules.

Fellow super-GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri took advantage of Carlsen's slip to move to 2/2, while the day's surprises included IM Vaishali Rameshbabu defeating GM S P Sethuraman.

Round three starts on October 13 at 8 a.m. ET/14:00 CEST/5:30 p.m. IST.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2023 Qatar Masters on the Qatar Chess Association YouTube: and on Hikaru Nakamura's Kick channel: Games from the event can be viewed on our events page.

The live broadcast was hosted by IM Irine Sukandar, IM Jovanka Houska, and GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko.

Sometimes it's hard to pick out a clear storyline from a round of an open tournament, but this time one game dominated the rest. Carlsen's shock defeat to 327-point-lower-rated Suleymenov, the world number-one's worst loss in rating terms in 15 years, would have reverberated around the chess world even if Carlsen hadn't immediately taken to social media afterward. Controversy ensued, with the day's other results grabbing far less attention.

Suleymenov Shocks Carlsen, Controversy Follows 

One of the most dramatic defeats of Carlsen's career. Photo: Keti Tsatsalashvili/Qatar Masters.

"Before the game honestly I was dreaming about drawing," said Suleymenov after winning the game of a lifetime against five-time classical world champion Carlsen. It wasn't just the result, but the manner in which Carlsen found himself all but busted by move 18.

The knight on g5 is attacking the weak h7 and f7-squares, and there is nothing Black can do about it. For instance, 18...h6? would provoke an instant sacrifice on f7, while in the game there wasn't long to wait until that blow fell.

That was just the first of more sacrifices, as arguably the greatest player of all time was powerless against a little-known opponent who classed his playing style as "calculative."

GM Dejan Bojkov takes us through a game that would have made Paul Morphy proud. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Carlsen then took to Twitter/X and noted his opponent "played an amazing game and deserved to win," but what will be remembered is his attack on the lax anti-cheating measures in effect at the venue.

Carlsen received support from French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who recently complained about the lack of a delay in the move transmission of the FIDE World Cup 2023, and also noted he should have lost a game and potentially been disqualified after accidentally wearing a watch at the FIDE World Blitz Championship 2022

Carlsen responded to some criticism that he hadn't taken his concerns to an arbiter during the game by explaining that he did, while international arbiter Chris Bird chimed in to confirm that watches aren't allowed, whether analog or digital.

One strong voice against Carlsen's approach, however, came from the tournament's number-two seed, Nakamura, who spoke out on his Kick channel. He criticised addressing the issue after a loss, and thereby turning the topic to anti-cheating instead of chess. The U.S. star also felt it was a sign of "cracks" appearing in the world number-one's previously formidable mental armor.

Carlsen will get to show his resilience as he now plays catch-up (both in the tournament and after losing 8.7 rating points in a single game), starting with facing Indian IM Muthaiah AL (born 1999) in round three.

Nakamura, Giri Among The Leaders on 2/2

21 players are still on a perfect 2/2, including favorites Nakamura and Giri, who won smooth games while the drama unfolded on the top board. Nakamura admitted to some trepidation at facing the relatively unknown Chinese GM Dai Changren, but said he got some help in playing a quiet Italian Opening from Giri's Chessable course: "It’s great that Anish is giving away all his secrets to try and make money!"

Dai was unable to put Nakamura under pressure. Photo: Keti Tsatsalashvili/Qatar Masters.

Nakamura got a big advantage when he was able to push d5 and found the most precise follow-ups, including 32.Nf5!

That in-between move pushed the black queen away from the defense of the b7-pawn so that when the black knight later came to f6 Nakamura could capture the pawn. The U.S. star recapped the game and the day's other events in a video whose title was changed after the world number-one objected.

Giri meanwhile won slowly, but very surely, after playing the Caro-Kann against 15-year-old Indian GM Bharath Subramaniyam.

More Upsets, Including A Fedoseev Nightmare

Another player on 2/2 is Vaishali, who is making a habit of beating Sethuraman, as she did for a second time in a topsy-turvy game where her opponent survived the first wave of an attack but then collapsed in a mutual time scramble.

The top seed to fall after Carlsen was number-seven-seed GM Parham Maghsoodloo, who suddenly found his rook trapped against Uzbek teenage IM Mukhiddin Madaminov.

It was a tough day for Maghsoodloo. Photo: Keti Tsatsalashvili/Qatar Masters.

Maghsoodloo perhaps held out decent hopes of survival when he reached a queen endgame, but his opponent was ruthless.

If there was one player on a mission to make Carlsen feel better about his life choices it was GM Vladimir Fedoseev, who suffered a second bitter loss in a row, this time to Indian FM Senthil Maran K.    

The game was as painful as the result, with Fedoseev gradually ground down rather than making any glaring blunder. Will the tenth seed finally catch a break in round three after losing 17 rating points in two games? Well, he faces a kid, Uzbek FM Khumoyun Begmuratov. What could possibly go wrong?

Qatar Masters | All Games Round 2

The 2023 Qatar Masters is a nine-round open tournament for players rated 2300+. It takes place in Lusail, Qatar on October 11-20, and boasts a $108,250 prize fund with $25,000 for first place, as well as a $5,000 prize for the top female player.

Previous Coverage:

Colin McGourty

Colin McGourty led news at Chess24 from its launch until it merged with a decade later. An amateur player, he got into chess writing when he set up the website Chess in Translation after previously studying Slavic languages and literature in St. Andrews, Odesa, Oxford, and Krakow.

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