Interest grows for chess in Manchester after international cheating scandal

A cheating storm has thrust the usually-sedate world of chess under the limelight and led to a surge of interest in the game in Manchester.

But the University of Manchester Chess Club President, Jason Rice, admits he has mixed emotions about more players getting involved because of the Hans Niemann controversy.

Jason said: “It’s kind of sad that this is what sometimes attracts people to the game just drama, stupid stuff like this – you don’t want that to be representing the game.”

He described how shows like Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit and an increase in online chess Twitch streamers helps to attract new members.

“We had four or five active members a couple of years ago,” he said. “Now just recently we’ve gained 130 members from students coming in and now we’ve got about 250 members so it’s really great to see more people playing.”

Chess made international headlines last month when young prodigy Hans Niemann was accused of cheating by world champion Magnus Carlsen.

Such widespread cheating at a high level does raise questions about the integrity of competitive chess at all levels. Jason admitted: “It is getting harder and harder to spot because people are getting smarter and smarter which is the problem but most places have a zero tolerance policy in place so you know if you’re caught cheating that’s it you’re out.”

UoM Chess Club games shows the community behind the tactics

Cheating in chess has become a major issue after released the ‘Hans Niemann report’ which concluded the grandmaster likely cheated in more than 100 online games. Following his shock defeat of Carlsen, he was faced with accusations of unfair play and admitted to previously cheating in a handful of online games – but nowhere on the scale suggested by this report.

While corroborates Carlsen’s assertions that Niemann has an established history of cheating, the game in which Niemann beat Carlsen was over the board – and Carlsen has not revealed the method his opponent used to cheat, although some creative ideas have surfaced online.

You can find out more about the University of Manchester Chess Society on their social media pages.

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