In the 1,500 years since the dawn of chess, the ultimate test of cerebral fitness, countless champions have employed innumerable methods in the struggle to truly master the game of kings. But one top-ranked U.S. chess star insists that, as far as he is aware, a string of vibrating spheres up the rectum is not one of them.
San Francisco-born grandmaster Hans Niemann, 19, pulled off a huge upset when he defeated the reining world champ, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, 31, at the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament on Sept. 4. Niemann also sparked controversy—from the humdrum speculation that he cheated, to a significantly more memorable rumor that he used a piece of sex accoutrement to do so.
According to U.K. tabloid The Daily Mail, “Speculation has grown online” that Niemann “inserted wireless vibrating anal beads into his body before his victorious match.”
For those attempting to calculate how such a device would help achieve chess domination, the theory is that the remotely-controlled amusement operates much like the “wireless telegraph” scam gambling cheats once used, made famous in a scene from Casino. Savvy chess aficionados speculate that a confederate of Niemann’s was observing the match while using a computer chess program to determine the perfect moves, then feeding those strategies to Niemann in their own grifter version of Morse code.
One fan tweeted: “Currently obsessed with the notion that Hans Niemann has been cheating at the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament using wireless anal beads that vibrate him the correct moves.”
Niemann has vehemently denied using the beads, or any other kind of implement, against Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup match. But, according to the Mail, he did admit to cheating during an online game at age 12, when one of his friends used an iPad loaded with a chess program that offered him genius counter-moves while his opponent couldn’t see what he was doing.
“I have never cheated in an over-the-board game,” Neimann said. “If they want me to strip fully naked, I will do it. I don’t care. Because I know I am clean. You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. I’m here to win and that is my goal regardless.”
Billionaire spaceman and Twitter eighth-grader Elon Musk got in on the fun, paraphrasing Arthur Schopenhauer in a now-deleted tweet: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one can see (cause it’s in ur butt).”
In July, weeks before his defeat to Niemann, Carlsen announced that he would not be defending his title next year at the World Chess Championship. As the Washington Post reported at the time, Carlsen—who has held the title since 2013, when he was 22—explained, “I simply feel that I don’t have a lot to gain.”
Carlsen added that his fourth and fifth championships “meant nothing” to him. “I was satisfied with the job I had done,” he said. “I was happy I had not lost the match. But that was it.”
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