Magnus Carlsen blames chess opponent’s watch for loss in anti-cheating rant

The Norwegian also hit out at the Qatar Masters for not taking anti-cheating measures seriously

Jack Rathborn
Friday 13 October 2023 11:42 BST
Magnus Carlsen is upset with the organisers of the Qatar Masters
Magnus Carlsen is upset with the organisers of the Qatar Masters (AFP via Getty Images)

Magnus Carlsen, the world’s No 1 ranked chess professional, has blamed his opponent wearing a watch for his defeat in the Qatar Masters.

Kazakh Grandmaster Alisher Suleymenov defeated the Norwegian, handing the five-time world champion his first loss against an opponent rated below 2,520 since 2006 in the Norwegian Championship against Berge Ostenstad.

Carlsen was recently embroiled in a spat with Hans Niemann, whom he had accused of cheating in order to gain victory over him last year, with the American admitting to cheating in the past.

And the 32-year-old has bemoaned the lack of anti-cheating measures since, while pinpointing how Suleymenov’s watch distracted him during the match.

“I was completely crushed in my game today. This is not to accuse my opponent of anything, who played an amazing game and deserved to win, but honestly, as soon as I saw my opponent was wearing a watch early in the game, I lost my ability to concentrate,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

“I obviously take responsibility for my inability to deal with those thoughts properly, but it’s also incredibly frustrating to see organisers still not taking anti-cheating seriously at all (no transmission delay, spectators walking around the playing hall with smartphones).”

Carlsen later added that he quizzed officials on the legality of wearing a watch, adding: “I did ask an arbiter during the game whether watches were allowed, and he clarified that smartwatches were banned, but not analog watches. This seems to be against FIDE rules for events of this stature.”

Carlsen’s accusations against Niemann, after quitting a $500,000 tournament in St Louis, resulted in a massive lawsuit, with a $100m defamation case filed.

The American grandmaster was later cleared of any wrongdoing with the pair settling their dispute outside of court.

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