My mom asked me ‘Did Hans Niemann cheat?’ out of nothing. That’s how huge this chess cheating scandal is. She had even heard the beads theory. So you NEED to know everything about it if you’re a chess player, so you can educate your loved ones. So let’s sum up everything we know abou the Hans Niemann cheating scandal!
- Question 1: Can you prove cheating in chess with statistics?
- Proof that Hans cheated: The Hans Niemann Report by Chess.com
- Did Hans Niemann cheat over the board?
- How could Hans Cheat in real life? The anal beads theory.
- How to cheat in chess without being detected?
Question 1: Can you prove cheating in chess with statistics?
NO. You cannot prove cheating in chess with statistics.
Young players and chess engines
Lovers of statistics try to say that Hans Niemann cheated because his ‘engine correlation’ is too high.
BUT, there’s absolutely nothing suspiscious about that.
In fact, we should HOPE that young players have a high engine correlation.
Because young players grew up with chess engines. They learned chess with the help of engine analysis from the beginning.
So of course their play style is going to resemble that of engines more compared to older players who didn’t have engines growing up.
Engine correlation is natural
And moreover: high engine correlation is unavoidable.
It’s unavoidable because engines are better at chess than people, and all chess playing humans are trying to learn from engines to become better.
So in the future engine correlation will be much higher than it is today. And it should be.
So we can’t be suspicious of engine correlation. If we accuse everyone of cheating who plays better than Magnus Carlsen, we’re just denying that anybody could ever become better than him. And that’s ridiculous given the constant evolution of chess (with engines).
You can’t measure chess engine correlation
You also can’t measure just engine correlation in the way that a lot of people seem to think you can.
A lot of people say that Hans Niemann has the highest correlation with chess engines compared to other grandmasters.
But that statement doesn’t even make sense.
Think about it.
There are literally thousands of different chess engines to choose from: Stockfish, Alphazero, Deep Blue, and unlimited unnamed ones.
And every engine suggest multiple great moves for most positions.
So what exactly do you mean with Niemann’s engine correlation?
His correlation with AlphaZero’s number 1 move? His correlation with Stockfish’ top 3 moves?
Or his correlation with some kind of average of both engines?
Or his correlation with some kind of average of all chess engines that exist? But that doesn’t make any sense, because if he’s cheating, he’s only using 1 or a few engines.
So these statements by statisticians in YouTube videos are misleading.
I’m sure that you can find a chess engine that has a super high correlation with Hans Niemann.
But there are so many chess engines, that I think you can do the same thing for any grand master.
So this still doesn’t prove anything…
Proof that Hans cheated: The Hans Niemann Report by Chess.com
The best evidence we have that Hans Niemann cheats in Chess is the report published by Chess.com.
Here’s the report: https://www.chess.com/blog/CHESScom/hans-niemann-report
It states that Hans very often plays the best engine move directly after switching to another tab on his computer.
Now that’s very suspicious…
It’s not againt the ruls of Chess.com to switch to another tab, but you’d expect to see slightly worse moves after such distractions.
So this is strong evidence that Hans Niemann cheated online.
However, the report says that there’s no evidence of Hans cheating afer 2020.
And there’s no evidence of him cheating over the board either.
Did Hans Niemann cheat over the board?
However, the main allegation is that Hans Niemann is a cheater in over the board chess (meaning: chess in real life, with a physical board in the same room with his opponent).
And there’s still 0 evidence for this claim.
Why do people accuse Hans Niemann from cheating in real life?
The suspicion exists because Hans Niemann played a perfect game to beat Magnus Carlsen, after which Magnus Carlsen withdrew from the tournament.
Magnus Carlsen certainly seems to know more than us.
Does Magnus Carlsen have evidence that Hans Niemann cheated against him?
If Magnus has any evidece that Hans Niemann cheated against him over the board, he hasn’t shared it with us yet.
This is why the drama continues. Magnus heavily implies that he knows for sure that Hans Niemann is a cheater, but he won’t tell us why.
We all want to believe Magnus because he’s the world champion and the best chess player ever. But shouldn’t he tell us what he knows if he’s to make such heavy allegations?
How could Hans Cheat in real life? The anal beads theory.
So this is why this is the biggest story that even my mom heard about. There’s a theory… about anal beads.
The theory is that Hans Niemann inserted anal beads, which pulsate to signal to him what the best move is in a position.
So practically speaking I guess it would go like this:
- Suppose the best move is to move your piece that’s on A3 to B4.
- The beads would first signal ‘A3’, for example by pulsating once to signal the A, and then 3 times to signal the 3.
- And then the beads would pulsate twice to signal the B and four times to signal the 4.
- If there are pauses in between the signals this should be easy to understand.
- You could even let the beads repeat the signal twice to avoid confusion.
This is not the only theory. It could also be a small ear piece or something in his shoe. But the idea is the same.
Is this possible? Yes, certainly it’s possible. Why not?
Did he do it? We don’t know. We have 0 evidence. In a way, it’s just as likely that any other grand master is doing this. Or all of them. We just don’t know.
How to cheat in chess without being detected?
The scariest thing from this scandal is to realize that cheating is possible in chess. And very easy.
And cheating without getting caught is also super easy.
How to avoid detection
All you’d have to do is not play the top engine move always. You should just play the second or third best move, or even a bad move sometimes.
You just have to become good in sensing how badly you can play, and still win.
And what’s so scary about this, is that literally everyone could be cheating.
Maybe they’re all just better at in that Hans, so we don’t notice it.
Does Magnus Carlsen cheat?
And I’ll share one more closing thought: Magnus Carlsen is in the best position to cheat of all chess players.
Because we expect him to be brilliant.
If he plays a perfect game, we all say: wow, Magnus is so impressive.
But if Hans Niemann plays a perfect game, wesuspect him of cheating.
Is that fair?
It makes sense, because Magnus has a longer track record of playing very good chess.
But what if he just cultivated this image of himself over a long time, and he was secretly cheating the whole time?
I think this is actually why Magnus takes this cheating scandal so seriously.
Once there is widespread suspicion of cheating is chess, nobody’s safe of suspicion. And that hurts the legitimate players more than anybody.