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Magnus Carlsen's accusations: should you admit past guilt?

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Hello everyone,

Context: the World of chess grandmasters

2 days ago, Magnus Carlsen (5 times chess World champion, considered the best of all time, 31 yo) left a tournament after it had started, after he lost to his opponent (Hans Niemann, 19 yo). That's the first time he leaves a tournament after it had started. For more context, if you watch Carlsen's interviews, he's power aware and definitely good at frame control. He has an ego matching his accomplishments as well in my opinion..

After that, he leaves a cryptic message on his Twitter, implying (clear to the insiders) that his opponent cheated. Later on he leaves another message:

I've withdrawn from the tournament. I've always enjoyed playing in the  @STLChessClub, and hope to be back in the future. (hints at possible future value from him as the highest value guy around, kind of blackmails the organiser into pleasing him)

In his Tweet, he also leaves a video from Mourinho (a meme): saying that "If I speak I am in big trouble.", hinting he knows things but cannot reveal them.

So the World of chess goes crazy. Niemann has now to explain himself and he does in the following video.

I read the comments and I saw that basically, because he admitted cheating at age 12 and 16, he's a cheater, therefore Magnus is right.

There is another frame: Magnus lost to him and was supposed to win. So Magnus is bitter and make sure Niemann is punished for beating him, using his status and connections to do so.

Which one is it? I don't know as there is no evidence. Also means of communication during the game are forbidden and checked with metal detectors, etc.

Here is what the guardian kept from the event: "once a cheater, always a cheater".

So the question is:

Was it smart for Niemann to admit his past cheating knowing he was at a status deficit and was currently accused of cheating? 

Well, at this point, I think he had no choice. Strategically, it would have been better for him to come clean earlier as now it seems like it's a forced admission of past guilt.

Moreover his opponent has no history of cheating (to my knowledge), so he appears more honest than him. So it's basically the (relative) low status, past cheater versus the high status honest player.: the way he speaks (arrogance: see last video talking about "idiots", etc.) makes him also dislikable. So he loses the image battle even if he's really innocent. On top of it, he's defending from the accusation of cheating, so he has several frames layering against him.

Explanation about the accusation for more background below. The unsaid accusation (hypothesis from the "chess community") would be that someone from Magnus' team allegedly having given away his opening (critical in chess as you all know):

After seeing his videos, I do think he's believable. I would personally give him the benefit of the doubt. I'm not knowledgeable enough to judge the whole chess analysis but I'm basing my judgment on the context and his explanations/body language/vocal tone.

Lucio Buffalmano and Kavalier have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier

Here is the complete timeline:

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier

Interesting, interesting.

I went quickly through it and I'm completely unaware of the events.

At very first blush, my first feeling was that it was a mistake to talk about his past "cheating".

Also using that keyword sooo many times, bad move.
Now the discourse has become all-around cheating.

He had to keep the discourse around the result.

And if he wanted to twist the knife, something like:

Magnus is a legend, I grew up looking up to him.
And to meet him at only 19 years old it was a dream come true.
(then go on to describe the moves with which he won)

 

John Freeman, Kavalier and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
John FreemanKavalierBelleaderoffun
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I agree with you.

Actually that resonates with me. When I was studying medicine in university I cheated once at an exam for 1 question in a moment of weakness. And the guilt haunted me for many years. I told only a select group of people and keep it mostly a secret. To me for a long time it signified that everything that I did after was not earned and was fake. Rationally, though over 10 years of doing medicine and I cheated once I think it's not a big deal. It was also the time where I worked a lot on honesty and I do consider myself a honest man. Also I think I did not hurt anyone and my patients are happy that I'm their doctor.

Call it karma or whatever, today at the final oral exam as I was waiting for my turn I was tempted to look up things on my phone. I did not, based on the previous lesson years ago.

One of the questions out of 3 happened to be the same that a friend had last week. She told me about it so I studied it. And today it came up. In that situation was I to say: "Oh actually I know the question from one of my colleagues who passed the exam last week". So I pretended that I did not know that it was asked recently. I could see in her eyes that she was wondering if I knew or not. Anyway, I did not know the whole case so I made a few mistakes anyway.

The truth is that even if I did not know there would be this question I would have passed. Also from year to year, we pass to one another a list of the questions from the previous year. So it's a form of either solidarity or systemic cheating, depending on the frame chosen. That being said, we do not sign anything that says we're not supposed to talk about the cases between us.

So I think that it's their fault and responsibility to have the same question come back in the same session of an oral exam.

That being said, tonight it struck me:

  1. I feel a lot of guilt for not having told the examiner that I knew they asked this question last week
  2. I shared in the WhatsApp group where we share the questions we had the questions I had (same way I knew what questions were asked). So now a group of 13 people know that I had the same topic as everyone in the group. I am quite scared because one of them will work as an attending physician at this hospital in May. So I'm afraid she would let it slip to the examiners (her future bosses). However, it's quite unlikely as she would need to mention my name specifically (there is no reason she would) and she would also have to admit that she was in a group where we shared what topic came up.

I never in a lifetime expected for a question to come back as we know it's not good practice if sessions are space as people can communicate.

So factually: I did not break any rule, I studied hard, I worked hard, I knew the topic enough and would have passed anyway (I have a great mark for the 3 topics), it's their responsibility, we did not sign any paper, I did not hurt anyone and I did not lie (they did not ask me if I knew there would be this question).

However, I pretended not know that this question was there previously and since I had a great relationship with both examiners during the exam I do feel dishonest.

I think I feel easily guilty where people would not and at the same time. However, I do feel it kind of stains my victory a bit.

As you can imagine, any feed-back from you on this would be very helpful for me.

Clarification as this part is not clear:

1. I shared in the WhatsApp group where we share the questions we had the questions I had (same way I knew what questions were asked). So now a group of 13 people know that I had the same topic as everyone in the group. I am quite scared because one of them will work as an attending physician at this hospital in May. So I'm afraid she would let it slip to the examiners (her future bosses). However, it's quite unlikely as she would need to mention my name specifically (there is no reason she would) and she would also have to admit that she was in a group where we shared what topic came up.

Clarified:

We have a whatsApp group that we use to share articles, info about the exam (I created the group and gave tons of info and value through it on top of the value of allowing the exchange of information).

In this group, my colleague shared last week the 3 questions she had at her oral exam.

I shared my questions in the group today. My colleague noticed that I had the same question as hers, therefore everyone else as well. They congratulated me though.

That means that the 13 people of the group know that I had the same question as her and that I knew about it beforehand. (As I said, I studied it out of fear and to learn as well, I would never have guessed it would come up in the exam).

I am quite scared that someone from the group will reveal this information to the examiners who work in this hospital, let's call it Trenton hospital.

One of the member of the group, with whom I have a relatively good relationship will work at this hospital as an attending physician in May 2023.

I'm afraid that she will reveal this info intentionally or unintentionally to her future bosses at the Trenton hospitals (who were my examiners).

However, it's quite unlikely as she would need to mention my name specifically (there is no reason she would). If she would, she would also have to admit that she was in the group where we shared the topics we had at the exam.

I think it's clearer now.

Hey John, could you open a new thread for that?

Otherwise, if I reply, it'll go from fair off-shoot, to totally off-topic (and I'm a bit OCD when it comes to staying on topic 😀 )

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Alright, so I'll put it in my journal as I think it belongs there.

I'm good with staying on topic, I think it's important as well on a forum.

Done.

I do think the whole thing is quite fishy. As you say, the stronger line of accusation is that someone in Carlsen's team leaked his preparation to Niemann.

The fact that Niemann said in post-game interview it was by "such a ridiculous miracle (la mano de Diós?) that he had studied in detail that same opening – a very unusual variant that Carlsen had used only once before in his whole career, in a game that was very hard to find in the databases (and also quite different from what was played here), and he's commenting on the 13th position on the board – that same morning before the game raises eyebrows. Not the best use of one's precious time (unless you're quite sure that's exactly how your opponent is going to play 😀 ). The interviewer himself cannot believe.

His match against Firouzja also raised suspitions, by the way, and the fact that he has admitted to cheating when he was 12 and again 16 in this case, I think, is relevant, because he has just turned 19.

To answer the question on the topic, I think you are right, Niemann had no choice but admit his past cheating because it was being brought to his face and he had already admitted to them before.

His best defence in this case would be... not raising suspiciousness himself. Instead of saying that he had seen that same game that same morning, he should have just described the moves and the rationale behind them as usual. Chances are he didn't know properly the rationale behind those moves and couldn't explain them, though, and that's why he's sayint he's "a very intuitive player".

I'm impressed with what Carlsen is accomplishing from a power perspective. He's got the whole world scrutinizing the game and the security procedures just by removing himself from the tournament and posting a meme.

As for, Niemann, he'd rather go out and start socializing more, because not doing so is costing him his career.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freemanleaderoffun

Thanks for your contribution as you're way more knowledgeable on this topic.

Regarding your analysis, I agree with the strategy of not raising suspiciousness, the relative small difference in age between the events and being "an intuitive player" (fishy to me now in the light of your post). At this point, I think it has to go to some ruling instance for facts to be established. I'm sure they have such instances.

Yes, Carlsen is quite power-aware. He's a smart man for sure.

Kavalier has reacted to this post.
Kavalier

Hello, guys

A whole week has passed since this incident, and nor Carlsen nor anybody has presented significant evidence that there was cheating involved. At the heat of the moment, when theories were running wild, I was biased toward Carlsen's version of events. That whole story was indeed hard to believe. It made sense to believe that Carlsen had irrefutable proof to make such a big move that might have consequences for his reputation, but... it turns out that the "ridiculous miracle" seems to be a indeed a stroke of luck coupled with genius. If Niemann is indeed a genius, then he's not the first socially awkward genius in history. (Though I think we all agree that Niemann's life will be easier if he enrolls in Power University) 🙂

It actually saddens me that Carlsen took this stance, because not only Niemann's reputation was at stake, but also his and many chess grandmaster's that took sides on this dispute. It's trully a bad example that the world champion is setting here.

There is another side of power dynamics that may be worth noticing: Carlsen leveraged his superpowers to raise the stakes, but in the end he was empty handed. Now it seems that he's losing face, as many people in the community slowly start to share mea culpas and the man has nothing to say. As for Niemann, having emerged unscathed from the onslaught, he seems to be gaining a surge of power. Before all of this he was virtually unknown and almost universally disliked. Now respectable people are coming out as "fans" of Niemann and describing his personality as only "different" and even "likeable". Turns out people weigh higher power  more favourably than higher warmth indeed.

Had Carlsen taken the defeat gracefully and then quietly proceeded to investigate whether there was cheating involved, he would have gained from this. He's already one of the greatest of all times, taking it as a champ in any case would only improve his reputation. Taking it gracefully and then managing to present evidence would potentialize this effect manyfold. Niemann would have remained an underdog – surely an impressive one, all eyes on him, but still climbing his way to the halls of fame. Now his name is stamped even in non specialized media.

So it's trully the effect of a power showdown we are seeing here.

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Lucio BuffalmanoBel
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