Potential Cheating Scandal Could Affect Chess Odds

Written By Giovanni Shorter on September 28, 2022
Chess Cheating Scandal

In the world of professional chess, 19-year-old American Hans Niemann has begun making a name for himself, all be it through infamy. Niemann has been accused of cheating during a tournament by Magnus Carlsen, World Champion and the No. 1 ranked player in the world. These accusations led to investigations into Niemann’s history of cheating and have led to the young stud being scrutinized by the chess community.

Let’s take a deep dive into the cheating scandal and how it has affected the world of professional chess.

Niemann On The Hot Seat

Following Niemann’s upset victory over Carlsen, the latter withdrew from the tournament entirely. That is odd behavior for Carlsen. In a statement following, Carlsen said he believed that Niemann was a serial cheater and that his play during the match warranted suspicion.

While there was no physical evidence of Niemann cheating, these accusations were taken seriously due to Carlsen being such a prominent name in the world of chess.

“I think he’s just so demoralized because he’s losing to such an idiot like me,” said Niemann in response to Carlsen’s allegations. “You know? It’s just the … It must be embarrassing for the world champion to lose to me. I feel bad for him.”

It was then revealed by Niemann himself that he had been guilty of cheating on chess matches while competing on Chess.com. Niemann stated he cheated twice when he was 17 and 12 and that none of the matches he cheated in were in real life, nor did any of the matches he cheated on involve cash prizes.

“And, this is the single biggest mistake of my life and I am completely ashamed,” said Niemann.

The chess platform responded to Niemann’s admission, hinting that the 19-year-old chess player was not honest about the extent of his cheating and revealed he was barred from competing in the $1 million Global Championship.

Rematch Continues Skepticism

Niemann and Carlsen would face off against one another again, this time in an online match. Briefly after this match began, Carlsen would resign and take the loss. This prompted the chess community to go crazy, as yet again, a match between these two has ended on bizarre terms.

There was much speculation as to the reason behind Carlsen resigning from the match. Some suggested that Carlsen was protesting Niemann. Niemann responded to questions about his abrupt end to the match and he refused to focus on the matter, instead stating how easy it is to cheat in today’s game of chess.

Eventually, Carlsen would reveal that he was contemplating dropping out of the match altogether weeks prior due to Niemann’s alleged cheating. The specific match in which Carlsen opted to withdraw was caused by Niemann’s mannerisms during the match.

“Wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions,” said Carlsen.

Carlsen would win the tournament in the end and Niemann would lose ahead of the quarterfinals. Carlsen is still ranked worked Number 1 and is favored to win the upcoming World Championship in Norway against the field. However, Nieman is not set to play.

How Big Of An Upset Is It For Carlsen To Lose?

Betting on chess is not popular in the United States, but there are legal betting markets for it in Europe. Those odds give us a glimpse into how stunning of an upset it was for Niemann to beat Carlsen. The world champion’s next tournament will be in Norway, and the offered odds in that tournament are very simple. It’s Carlsen versus the field.

M. Carlsen -250
All Other Participants +180

So the sportsbooks have Carlsen rated so strongly, that he’s -250 to win it, which converts to an implied probability of 71.4%. Every other competitor combined only has a 35.7% implied probability to win that tournament. It would be interesting to see how the odds would shift if Niemann was in the field for one of Carlsen’s future tournaments.

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Giovanni Shorter

Giovanni Shorter is a sports enthusiast and writer with a passion for the legal and industry side of the sports betting market. Giovanni got his education from Florida State University where he honed his writing style writing narratives and short stories. He has spent his professional career covering sports and entertainment through articles and blogs and continues to look at the industry from multiple angles.

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