On Monday, Magnus Carlsen resigned from an online match against 19-year-old Hans Niemann after making only one move, reigniting a feud between the players in their first meeting since the American’s controversial victory over Mr Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup earlier this month when the rumours of cheating against the teenager surfaced. After one move, the screens went blank. No one quite knew what happened. Just as no one quite knows what is happening in this controversy. No allegation has been levied. No proof of cheating has emerged. Mr Carlsen is insinuating that something is amiss, but until Mr Niemann is caught in the act, he can do nothing.

Allegations of cheating are serious, and deserve to be probed. But until there is a clear way forward, Mr Carlsen’s actions are also hurting the game. The world champion may have felt something was wrong, but is that reason enough to disrespect the game and his opponent? This, one might argue, is hardly fair. Mr Carlsen knows he is the biggest name in the game and is trying to force the issue in the worst way. If he’s convinced of malpractice, he should issue a statement and make his stance clear.

Mr Niemann, on his part, can’t do much because he doesn’t quite belong to the big boys club. He has accepted that he cheated in the past, first as a 12-year-old and then as a 16-year-old, but those transgressions may have nothing to do with the current row. The other grandmasters aren’t saying much either, and, therefore, the sport’s governing body must step in to clear the air. Otherwise, this looks like a mystery fit for Hercule Poirot to solve, because for all you know, this could all be fiction too.

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