Magnus Carlsen Cheated Women’s World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk

The Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter appeared this morning after moving from a weekly to a monthly newsletter. Regular readers know I have been an inveterate reader for many decades. FM Paul Whitehead has published an outstanding editorial in the #1030 issue of October 8, 2022. After reading this writer had trouble with what to print and what to leave out. After deliberation the decision was made to publish the entire editorial as is, with media added by yours truly:

Hans Niemann: Chess at the Top

By FM Paul Whitehead

“Money Changes Everything” – The Brains

This is Tom Gray, the guy who wrote the song “Money Changes Everything”. He was in a little ol’ Atlanta band called “The Brains” from “back in the day”! On this night he was backed up by the Atlanta band “Swimming Pool Q’s”. Also in attendance was the drummer for The Brains, Charles Wolff. And as Anne Boston of the Q’s said:(paraphrased) “Tom and Charles comprise half a Brain”

By now we are all familiar with the scandal engulfing the chess world, boiled down to this:
lame-duck World Champion Magnus Carlsen loses a game in the Sinquefield Cup to 19-
year-old American up-start GM Hans Niemann. He then withdraws from the tournament,
at the same time making a vague insinuation that Niemann has cheated. A couple of weeks
later in the online Julius Baer Generation Cup, Carlsen loses yet another game to Hans,
resigning before playing his 2 nd move. Shortly afterwards he makes a statement on social
media, asserting that Hans had cheated during their encounter at the Sinqufield Cup –
and offers not a single shred of evidence.
I want to offer my own opinion, based on long experience in the chess world plus my own
interactions with Hans when he was an up-and-coming player at the Mechanics’ Institute.
It is not an easy path to the top of the chess world. It takes great fighting spirit and single-
minded determination. Magnus Carlsen, like every other World Champion before him, has
demonstrated those qualities. Other top players I have observed, like GM Walter Browne (one of Hans’ early coaches), manifest that desire to win in an almost visceral and physical

I have no doubt whatsoever that the will to win (and not to lose!) can cloud a chess
players moral compass. Ashamedly, I remember engaging in fisticuffs with my own
brother over a disputed game.
With that said, I’m curious what the reader might think of the following example.
Captured on video, Carlsen attempts to take a move back against GM Alexandra
Kosteniuk in the 2009 World Blitz Championship, and then leaves the table without a
word or a handshake:

If this was not an attempted cheat, then I don’t know what is.
Perhaps even more damning is the following video, Carlsen’s own live-stream of the
Lichess Titled Arena in December 2021. The World Champion clearly takes the advice of
GM David Howell to trap GM Daniel Naroditsky’s queen. I understand the tournament
had a 1st place of $500. The critical moment is at the 1:44:00 mark:

I am not trying to throw just Magnus Carlsen under the bus here. Both of these videos
show very typical displays of fighting spirit. Sadly, they also display not particularly rare
examples of un-sportsmanlike behavior.
For the World Champion to accuse Niemann of what he himself is clearly guilty of is, in
my opinion, just flat out wrong. If Niemann has cheated, then so has Carlsen. And
many, many others.
Thirty years ago (and more) it was a common sight to see chess masters and
grandmasters walking the hallways together, whispering in each other’s ears. I don’t
believe the majority of players were outright cheating perse, but innocent questions or
statements such as: “What do you think of my position?” or “Maybe it’s time to go
home!” accompanied by frowns, raised eyebrows, coughing, laughing, et cetera, were
quite common. Of course, this is different information than one can get nowadays. After
all, a grandmaster is only human, and their suggestions and advice will only take you so
But Stockfish is a God.
Nowadays the top players are electronically frisked, and their trips to the bathroom are
monitored – all under the smoky pall of large prize funds, large appearance fees, and
generous corporate sponsorship.
While the top players and streamers, and the private interests that sponsor them
(purporting to speak for the regular player), wring their hands worrying over the
“integrity of the game” and the “existential threat” posed by cheaters, they are living in
a chess world unimaginable only 30-40 years ago.
Back then, top players might have lived out of their cars or crashed on a friend’s couch,
all the while waiting for a few paltry bucks from their chess federation or a miserable
cash prize to pay their expenses. Chess lacked the glitz that corporate sponsorship and
lots of money can buy: the glamorous world of The Queen’s Gambit,

trash-talking streamers angling for a date with one of the Botez sisters,

or better yet: the chance to
be rich and/or the subject of world-wide attention.
Chess at the top looks, sounds, and tastes very different now than it did not so long ago.
The players are younger, have nice haircuts, and pay respect (if not outright homage) to
their master, World Champion Magnus Carlsen. It looks quite cozy from the outside: for
almost ten years now, the same 15–20 players have competed against each other over
and over again in countless tournaments, over the board and online. Rarely are
outsiders permitted into this precious circle, which helps to keep their ratings inflated
just enough to keep the invites and appearance fees coming and the sponsorships rolling
But cracks are starting to appear.
Almost all of the top players lost rating points at the recent Olympiad in Chennai, where
they had to compete with lower rated players.
A younger generation is muscling in, in the shape of players like Hans Niemann, India’s
Dommaraju Gukesh, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov from Uzbekistan. The latter became the
World Rapid Champion earlier this year, defeating not only Carlsen, but Carlsen’s two
most recent World Champion challengers, Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi.
The young may also seem to lack the “proper respect,” which leads us back to what I
see as the whole crux of this sorry Carlsen/Niemann affair.
Right now, with the lack of any evidence that Niemann cheated in that over-the-board
game against Carlsen, I think the only conclusion we can reach is the one staring us all
in the face: Hans Niemann beat Magnus Carlsen fair and square at the Sinquefield Cup.
I believe Hans has gotten under Magnus’ skin big-time, and, as is well documented here
and elsewhere, Magnus hates losing. And to what extent, we are just now finding out.
With Carlsen also abdicating the World Championship, I am reminded somewhat of an
angry child that destroys his own sandcastle when told that it’s time to leave the beach.
Hans Niemann played a lot at the Mechanics’ Institute as a youngster (11-12 years old
in 2013 and 2014), and his progress was meteoric. As I outlined in our last newsletter,
his rating jumping from 1200 to 2200 in just under two years.
I myself played Hans a bunch of times, and his father recently sent me a video of Hans
and I battling it out in a blitz game at the Mechanics’ Institute. I am totally winning for
ages and ages, and his only hope is that I will lose on time. Hans hangs in there though,
crying “Flag, flag, flag!” over and over. Both of us are enjoying the contest immensely…
and I lose on time before I can mate him. His joy at winning is a sight to see.
Not everyone appreciated Han’s brash and cheeky demeanor. It was either IM John

or I who (affectionately) started calling him “Niemann the Demon,” but there
were (and are still) players at the club who, perhaps, have forgotten what it was like to
have been young once.
When I see Hans in those post-game interviews at the Sinquefield Cup, I feel I am
watching exactly the same person that I knew back then: a person with a great love for
chess, supremely confident in his abilities, and with respect for no one.
A stone-cold chess killer.
Hans acts in a rough and tumble manner that surprises us nowadays, and harkens back
to earlier times – perhaps strongly influenced by older coaches like GMs Walter Browne,

Max Dlugy,

and IM John Grefe.

These are no-nonsense and worldly fellows, and Hans’
development was tempered in steel.
I think the time has passed, if it ever really existed, when chess could lay claim to
completely fair-play. Ruy Lopez de Segura (c.1530 – c.1580) a founding father of modern
chess and a Catholic priest, advised his students to “place the board such that the light
shines in your opponent’s eyes.”
Behind the brouhaha surrounding Carlsen and Niemann, there are other factors and
interests playing out. As we follow chess celebrities, minor and major (because that is
what they are now) we should also follow the money. Is it a coincidence that Niemann was
banned anew from whilst the Play Magnus Group was acquired by that selfsame I find it fascinating to see who is lining up to defend Carlsen’s accusations,
and why.
There will always be attempts to cheat at over-the-board chess – some have been caught,
others not. With the money pouring in, attempts to cheat will not stop, ever. Chess has
entered the world of all other sports and games where these problems exist, whether it’s
baseball or poker.
The online world thrived like nobody’s business during the pandemic: perhaps the real
“existential threat” to wealthy streamers and online platforms is not cheaters – it’s the
return to over-the-board play.
The chess world at the top has waited a long time for this moment – they’ve made it. They
have world-wide attention, and they are rolling in the dough. In a sense they have gotten
what they wished for, yet in another sense they are paying the price for those wishes
coming true.
But back here, for the rest of us in the clubs, in our homes and schools, I believe chess
will thrive and continue to be enjoyed for the skillful, interesting, and fascinating game
that it is – untainted by money and enjoyed for its own sake.
The same way Hans and I enjoyed playing together, not so very long ago. (

Breaking The Rules of the Leningrad Dutch

Neil McDonald

is a English Chess Grandmaster born in 1967, and a prolific author. His Wikipedia page ( shows thirty five Chess titles he has authored, including three on the Dutch.

Opening Guides: Dutch Leningrad, (1997);

Starting Out: The Dutch Defence, published in 2005;

Play the Dutch: An Opening Repertoire for Black based on the Leningrad Variation (2010).

Then there is this one:

Heading into the last round of the recently completed London Classic Open GM McDonald was in the fourth score group, along with a host of other players with 5 1/2 points out of a possible 8. He had black versus fellow GM Jahongir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan,

who was rated 2500, about one hundred points higher than McDonald.

Vakhidov opened with 1 c4, to which his opponent replied f5! The Dutch, a fighting opening for the last round game! There followed 2 Nc3 Nf6 and 3 d4 g6.

When attempting to play the Dutch four decades ago I was attracted to the Leningrad because of a game between Karpov vs Jacobsen, USSR vs Scandinavia junior match 1968, ( found in a book by Tim Harding, published in 1976, appropriately titled, The Leningrad Dutch.

As I recall one of the first chapters is titled, “Berzerk attacks.” This occurs when the Leningrad player allows white to fire the h4 salvo in the early opening phase of the game. Many failed experiments taught me to avoid h4 if at all possible. One of the ways to do this would be to delay playing g6 until after first playing d6, and then Nf6. White can still fire the h4 salvo, but it turns into a premature ejaculation. As a general rule I usually play d6 after the white pawns come to d4 and c4.

Vakhidov fired the h4 salvo on his fourth move, to which McDonald replied Bg7. Vak, in for a penny, in for a pound, continued pushing it in with 5 h5. Neil takes the sucker offa the board with Nxh5. When Vak fires his King pawn to e4

I am willing to wager Neil was wishing he had already played d6…At this point Stockfish, according to the CBDB would play fxe4. McDonald plays 6…e6. There follows, 7 exf5 exf5 8 Rxh5 gxh5 9 Qxh5+.

How would you like to be sitting behind the black pieces in this position? Me neither…McDonald moved his King to f8 and Vak played 10 Nd5. Neil tried a new move, 10…h6 (10…d6 11. Bg5 Qd7 12. O-O-O Nc6 13. Re1 Qf7 14. Qxf7+ Kxf7 15. Nxc7 Rb8 16. Nb5 Bxd4 17. Nxd6+ Kg6 18. Bh4 Bf6 19. Nf3 Bxh4 20. Nxh4+ Kf6 21. Ne8+ Kf7 22. Nd6+ Kf6 23. Ne8+ Kg5 24. g3 Rf8 25. f4+ Kh6 26. Bd3 Bd7 27. Nd6 Kg7 28. Nhxf5+ Bxf5 29. Nxf5+ Kh8 30. a3 Rbd8 31. Bc2 Na5 32. Re2 Rf6 33. b3 Rdf8 34. Nd4 R6f7 35. Re3 Rf6 36. Nf3 Nc6 37. Ng5 Rh6 38. Rd3 Rh1+ 39. Kb2 h6 40. Ne6 Rf6 41. Nc5 b6 42. Nd7 Re6 43. Rd2 Rhe1 44. Bd1 R6e3 45. g4 Re4 46. f5 Rd4 47. Kc2 Ree4 48. Bf3 Rxd2+ 49. Kxd2 Rd4+ 50. Ke3 Rxd7 51. Bxc6 Re7+ 52. Kd4 Kg7 53. b4 Kf6 54. c5 bxc5+ 55. Kxc5 Ke5 56. b5 Kf4 57. Kd6 Rh7 58. f6 Kxg4 59. Ke6 Kf4 60. f7 Rh8 61. Ke7 Ke5 62. f8=Q Rxf8 63. Kxf8 Kd4 64. Kg7 h5 65. Kg6 h4 66. Kg5 h3 67. Kg4 h2 68. Kg3 Kc4 69. Kxh2 Kb3 70. a4 Kb4 71. Kg3 Kc5 72. Kf4 1-0; Jimenez Martinez,J (2002) vs Encinas Encinas, (2174) Albacete 2004) There followed: 11 Qxf5+ Kg8 12 c5 d6 13 Qe4 Nc6 14 Bc4 Kf8 15 Ne2 Na5 16 Qf4+ Ke8 17 Bb5+

You know you have stepped into some really deep poo when your opponent ALLOWS you to fork two minor pieces with a lowly pawn…

c6 18 Bd3 cxd5 19 Bg6+ Kd7 20 Qxd6# 1-0

Gruesome. When is the last time you saw a GM mated in the middle of the board? The McDonald version of the Leningrad Dutch was obliterated.

Old McDonald turns fifty next month, becoming eligible for the World Senior. Maybe he should consider retiring to the farm…

I do not have either of the Leningrad books authored by GM McDonald. If you do and would like to leave a comment, or send an email ( with what he has to say about handling berzerk attacks with an early h4, inquiring minds would like to know…

“Widespread concerns about the potential for cheating”

During the opening of the final round game between Nafisa Muminova and Alexandra Kosteniuk in the Tashkent Women’s Grand Prix being held in Uzbekistan it has been reported that Muminova lost when her cellphone went off. Mark Crowther reported via something called a “Tweet” that, “Muminova’s phone went off for an immediate loss.”
Here is the complete game:
Muminova, Nafisa – Kosteniuk, Alexandra
FIDE WGP Tashkent Tashkent UZB (11.2), 2013.09.30
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.O-O-O h6 9.Bh4 Nxe4 10.Qf4 0-1
A short while ago my friend the Discman, after reading one of my posts concerning cheating, sent me an email asking if FIDE still allowed electronic devices in the playing hall. I was uncertain then, but it is evident from the incident today that FIDE does still allow gizmo’s in the tournament hall. Susan Polgar felt the urge to tweet, adding this on TWIC:
@SusanPolgar @albionado2 “It’s pretty hard to understand someone forgetting to turn off their phone in this day and age. Very careless.”
My mother used to have a saying, “It would not have happened if he had not been there.” I first heard it after the guys I usually drove around on the weekend as what would be called today the “designated driver,” since I did not drink, drove off an embankment and wound up in a hospital. Since I had a date that evening and could not drive them around, I was naturally blamed. If you think about it, in a way it is FIDE’s fault for not banning all gizmo’s.
One of my opponent’s in the Georgia State Championship, a fellow Senior, had his cellphone ring. Rather than answer it he just sat there looking stupid while it continued to ring and ring until he finally took it out of his pocket and turned it off. It was very loud and disrupted everyone in the vast playing hall. For this infraction of the rules he was penalized, losing only two minutes of time on his clock.
Geurt Gijssen discusses the issue in his column An Arbiter’s Notebook, on the Chess Café website of September 18, 2013, titled, “Widespread concerns about the potential for cheating.” Geurt writes in answer to a question concerning a cellphone going off:
“What are appropriate penalties? With the current Laws of Chess, there are few possibilities. See Article 12.3b:
Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, his score shall be a draw.”
There is much more to read and you can find it here: