Magnus Carlsen Withdraws From Sinquefield Cup
Photo: Crystal Fuller / Grand Chess Tour.

Magnus Carlsen Withdraws From Sinquefield Cup

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On Monday, GM Magnus Carlsen surprised the chess world by announcing that he was withdrawing from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, tweeting his decision at the beginning of round four.

At the start of the round, Carlsen's clock was started against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but Carlsen never showed up to the board and was forfeited after the 10-minute arrival window expired.

Carlsen was on 1.5/3 after losing in the previous round with White against GM Hans Niemann. According to the tournament regulations, because he didn't complete 50 percent of his games, Carlsen's previous results will be annulled from the tournament standings; however, the FIDE rating adjustments from these three games stand.

This is first time that Carlsen has withdrawn from a major event, and many commented that such a withdrawal from a tournament in progress for anything other than health reasons is virtually unprecedented in top-level chess. To find a precedent, one may look as far back as the 1967 Sousse Interzonal where Bobby Fischer withdrew after 10 rounds due to arguments with the organizers.

Online chess fans and commenters were quick to speculate. GM Hikaru Nakamura theorized that Carlsen withdrew because he suspected Niemann of cheating in their game the previous day, saying: "I think that Magnus believes that Hans probably is cheating."

In an interview after the game, Niemann mentioned that he prepared based on Carlsen's use of the g3 Nimzo-Indian against GM Wesley So in London 2018. However, this game does not exist. It is possible that Niemann was referring to a Carlsen-So rapid game played in Kolkata, 2019.

In his post-game interview, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi shared his thoughts on the Carlsen-Niemann game, calling it "more than impressive."

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

Asked for comment, Chief Chess Officer Daniel Rensch stated: " does not discuss Fair Play matters publicly, and as such, we decline to comment on the happenings at Sinquefield Cup and/or any speculations made by the community."

Team Carlsen declined to comment. 

Update: An earlier version of this article stated that had not been able to locate any other modern game by Carlsen in the g3-line of the Nimzo-Indian. However, by transposition there was a Carlsen-So rapid game played in Kolkata, 2019.

Update 2: Note that after round five, Niemann gave a half-hour long interview in which he responded to the many questions that arose after Carlsen's withdrawal and the many reactions from the online chess community. You can find it in our round report.

Coverage of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup

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