The biggest sports scandal in chess history involves vibrating anal beads

Currently obsessed with the notion that Hans Niemann has been cheating at the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament using wireless beads.

women playing chess

When you think about chess, your mind doesn’t exactly jump to drama, subterfuge, and scandal. But the international chess community was shaken to its very core by a case of cheating that involved - of all things - computer-programmed socks and a string of vibrating anal beads! Trust us when we say that this is a story you’re not going to want to miss!

Chess Grandmaster and five-time world champion winner Magnus Carlsen has been playing all of his life, mastering the game in pretty much every way. So when he came face to face with 19-year-old Hans Niemann, he didn’t expect to lose. Especially when you consider that Niemann was ranked the lowest of the 10 players competing in the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis.

But against all odds, Niemann easily defeated Carlsen, breaking the latter’s 53-match winning streak. In fact, he was the first person to beat the Grandmaster in over 2 years. It really was quite the upset, and a defeat that set the chess world on fire. Speaking in a post-match interview, Niemann said, “[Carlsen] played quite poorly, I didn’t do anything special.”

The plot thickens!

The very next day, the Grandmaster bowed out of the competition. This was an odd move indeed, considering the grand prize was $350,000. His only explanation was in a Tweet, where he said, “I've withdrawn from the tournament. I've always enjoyed playing in the @STLChessClub, and hope to be back in the future.” Alongside the tweet was a video of Portuguese soccer manager Jose Mourinho saying, “if I speak, I am in big trouble.”

The plot thickened over the following days when Niemann started facing accusations of cheating. All these accusations were unofficial and off the record, and the St. Louis Chess Club anti-cheating arbiter made sure they keep a distance from any calls of foul play. However, it was telling that they discreetly introduced a 15-minute delay to their broadcast in order to keep a closer eye on things.

New information soon came to light, and Hans Niemann’s label of being a cheater became even more engrained when after he admitted to using computer assistance to win ranked games on He tried using the excuse that he was only 16 at the time and that it was truly one of the biggest regrets of his life, however, once you get labeled as a cheater, it’s a difficult thing to shake.

Despite his apologies and apparent regrets, he was banned from competing in an upcoming contest in Toronto where there was a prize of $1 million. took to Twitter to confirm the 16-year-old’s banning, saying ‘we have shared detailed information with [Niemann] concerning our decision, including information that contradicts his statements regarding the amount and seriousness of his cheating’.

And that was that! Hans Niemann received his banning from, and everyone moved on. That is, until the recent scandal with Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen happened. But neither officials nor spectators were able to figure out exactly how Niemann had cheated. All players were monitored closely during the matches, and smartphones were banned. So how was he able to pull off such an unlikely victory? Well, it all came down to good vibrations!

Vibrating socks and tiptoe buttons!

A chess enthusiast and an avid computer programmer called James Stanley had developed a way to combine his two loves into a nefarious ‘foolproof’ winning machine. He had invented a way to covertly communicate with a computer engine without any detection at all. But how did he do it? Well, the solution might be underhanded, but it’s also actually pretty ingenious.

Stanley connected an AI chess engine to a rumble pack hidden inside an average pair of household socks. This chess engine could then tell the wearer the perfect chess moves via various rumbles and vibrations, akin to patterns used in morse code. He dubbed the Sockfish. There was a downfall to this invention though. The opponent's moves had to be inputted with tiny buttons on the toes of the socks.

Speaking about the initial trials of the Sockfish, Stanley said, “[my opponent] was very confused about why it took me 20 seconds of intense concentration to decide on my very first move. He eventually surmised that I must have ‘revised’ and was concentrating hard to make sure I remembered the theory. In actual fact, I was concentrating very hard to make sure I understood Sockfish’s outputs correctly and gave my inputs correctly!”

Live, televised matches could make things easier, as a third party could input the moves in real-time and relay the perfect counter moves to the person wearing the Sockfish. Now, how does this relate back to Niemann and his cheating scandal? Well, allow us to explain!

He’s picking up good vibrations

It has been theorized that instead of using the ingenious Sockfish device, Niemann was in fact using vibrating anal beads to relay the perfect chess moves in his match against Carlsen. Anal beads are a string of silicone balls that can be slid into the anus. Sometimes the balls are the same size, sometimes they vary and increase in size. But the feature that makes them most useful in this situation is their ability to vibrate.

Even billionaire Elon Musk weighed in on the fantastical and unbelievable story, sending out a (now deleted) Tweet including a video that explained the concept, alongside the caption “Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one else can see (cause it’s in ur butt)’ – Schopenhauer”.

This helped bring the story to the mainstream media, and once the bit news outlets got hold of the story, they ran with it! Of course, none of it has been officially confirmed to be true, but why should that get in the way of a good story?! And on top of that, Niemann’s silence speaks volumes.

So if - as many people suspect - Niemann was using this posterior pleasing method to cheat his way through his chess matches, it will send ripples (or should that be vibrations) through the entire chess community and have far-reaching consequences. How do you check that the players aren’t using this method? How do you police it? And how do you minimize the chances of it happening without ruining the fun of the game? It really is a quandary!

The chances are slim that cavity searches are going to be implemented before professional chess matches, and it’s not very likely that you’re going to be seeing officials pulling on rubber gloves and whipping out the lube. But what experts have suggested is that greater emphasis is put on analyzing a player’s prior match rankings, rather than assuming a player is a prodigy simply because they keep winning matches in unexpected and innovative ways. It’s like they say- if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

The chess community is going to need to keep a closer eye on things and try to implement new and innovative ways of cutting out cheating. It’s certainly a tricky thing to tackle, and it’s not going to be an easy fix. And one thing is for certain - there should be absolutely no cheating when it comes to professional chess-playing tournaments. No ifs and DEFINITELY no butts!

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