The greatest possible upset has occurred in the Sinquefield Cup, as substitute player Hans Niemann defeated world no. 1, Magnus Carlsen, with the Black pieces to end his 53-game classical skid without defeat.
After three rounds of play, Niemann, the lowest-rated player in the field, is now leading on his own. For the first time in his career, he has crossed the 2700 rating barrier, joining the prestigious club of super-grandmasters, the world's top chess players.
The victory came after 57 moves of play in a position that emerged from a uniquer line of the Nimzo-Indian Defense, one that offered nothing tangible to Carlsen. The world No. 1 never really found an edge in the even-to-slightly-worse position in the middlegame and erred with a sequence of pawn pushes starting on move 28 as he began to run out of time.
The subsequent position in question stood up to any serious scrutiny, with Blacks' active rook and material advantage more than compensating for the knight's relative passivity. Soon afterwards, Hans Niemann found himself with one additional pawn, then another, and comfortably converted the endgame into a totally winning position.
Niemann continued to make headlines with his odd phrasing in the chess press, including in the post-match interview after achieving the greatest goal of his career? It would be gratifying for the World Champion to lose to [an idiot like me].
This result ended the Norwegians' 53-game unbeaten run and pushed him further away from that 2900 rating goal. He is currently on 2856.3 on the live ratings, having lost 4.7 points so far at this event. The 19-year-old Niemann is up to No. 40 in the world, with 2702.3 points on the live board.
Niemann won a quick match in the FTX Crypto Cup a few months ago, but he then lost the match 3-1 and failed to score a single point throughout the eventmaking this result all the more surprising. Now, he is in command in one of the most famous classical tournaments, although there are six rounds to be played.
The following matches will be played in round four:
- Magnus Carlsen vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
- Levon Aronian vs Leinier Dominguez
- Hans Niemann vs Alireza Firouzja
- Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Wesley So
- Fabiano Caruana vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave