2022 in Review: A Chess Cheating Scandal in St. Louis Got Weird

A look back at what happened in St. Louis in 2022

Dec 28, 2022 at 6:01 am
click to enlarge Magnus Carlsen makes a move.
Magnus Carlsen makes a move.

St. Louis should consider itself lucky that when Norwegian Chess Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen lobbed thinly founded cheating allegations at San Francisco-born professional chess player Hans Neimann, our fair city was the metaphorical board upon which these greats would play their ultimate match.

The brouhaha began in September when Carlsen abruptly withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup tournament held here, making cryptic remarks that were widely interpreted as accusations against Neimann for cheating. Proving that the chess online subculture is just as dumb as every other corner of the internet, Carlsen's tweet morphed into a theory that Neimann had been communicating with a chess-playing computer via vibrating anal beads lodged in Neimann's ass.

A third supposedly high IQ individual entered the fray when SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a riff on the 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, writing, "Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one can see (cause it's in ur butt)."

Naturally, the fracas between Carlsen and Neimann turned litigious, with Neimann filing a $100 million lawsuit against his erstwhile opponent. Neimann claims that the grandmaster made the cheating accusations to distract from the fact that he lost his Sinquefield Cup match, a blow to both Carlsen's ego and reputation, upon both of which rest a global chess empire.

That lawsuit is still winding its way through a federal court in St. Louis. But we wonder how Rex Sinquefield feels about all this. The millionaire has spent an admirable amount of time, energy and cash making the Lou the new epicenter for chess. He surely never intended for the game he loves to devolve into anal-bead-based litigation. On the other hand, the controversy put professional chess on the radar of hundreds of thousands of people who couldn't tell the difference between a knight and a rook.

Welcome to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2022, a look back at the ups and downs of a turbulent year in the St. Louis region.

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