Magnus Carlsen denies accusing chess photographer of helping Hans Niemann cheat

Michael Gwilliam
Magnus Carlse over the board at Chess tournament.

Chess icon Magnus Carlsen has responded to claims that he accused photographer Lennart Ootes of helping Hans Niemann allegedly cheat in their infamous Sinquefield Cup encounter.

The controversial 2022 match between Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann was one for the ages, with the upstart Niemann emerging victorious against the world’s best chess player.

Despite his historic win, the match soon went down in infamy as Carlsen alleged that there was foul play involved and that somehow, Niemann had cheated in an over-the-board game. The next day, Magnus resigned from the tournament.

For months, rumors and theories circulated on social media, with some even pondering if Niemann had inserted an item into his body that would transmit optimal moves through vibrations. Eventually, after the threat of a $100M lawsuit by Niemann, all accusations were dropped – but that hasn’t stopped the legacy of the match from continuing to rear its ugly head.

A new report published by New York Mag claims that, during his game against Niemann, Carlsen got up and approached chess photographer Lennart Ootes to accuse him of aiding his opponent.

According to the report, Carlsen said there was a “massive tell” as the competitors were in an isolated room, with only the managing director of the US Chess Trust, Al Lawrence, and a few others inside.

However, Carlsen is rejecting these claims, calling them “misleading” and “erroneous.”

“The most egregious of which was that I accused the photographer, Lennart Ootes, of aiding with cheating,” he blasted on X. “I never did such a thing. I merely pointed out that someone who may or may not have knowledge of engine evaluations entering the room or going up to a board at certain times, can unknowingly give players tells.”

The chess star further noted that he wasn’t the only player who had an issue with people entering the room and approaching their boards. “This is a problem that other people have brought up later as well,” he added.

Niemann has yet to respond to the report, but he’s also had to deal with quite a few ramifications following the cheating dispute as it continues to be talked about, with even Elon Musk joking about it in a post on X earlier in May.

The cheating scandal is even reportedly being made into a feature-length film titled ‘Checkmate,’ and is being produced by Emma Stone.