As soon as I saw my opponent wearing a watch early in game, I lost my ability to concentrate: Magnus Carlsen says after losing at Qatar Masters

5-time world champion Magnus Carlsen on Thursday said that he lost in the Qatar Masters chess event because his opponent, 23-year-old Kazakh GM Alisher Suleymenov, ‘was wearing a watch early in the game’ which made him lose concentration.

The last time Carlsen was defeated by a player rated below 2520 was in the Norwegian Championship 2006 where he lost to Berge Ostenstad who was rated 2480.

Carlsen also expressed his frustration with the organisers for ‘still not taking anti-cheating seriously at all.’

“I was completely crushed in my game today. This is not to accuse my opponent of anything, who played an amazing game and deserved to win, but honestly, as soon as I saw my opponent was wearing a watch early in the game, I lost my ability to concentrate,” Carlsen wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“I obviously take responsibility for my inability to deal with those thoughts properly, but it’s also incredibly frustrating to see organisers still not taking anti-cheating seriously at all (no transmission delay, spectators walking around the playing hall with smartphones),” he added in a follow up tweet.

He also said that the arbiter had told him that smart watches were banned but analog watches were allowed which Carlsen felt “to be against FIDE rules.”

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“I did ask an arbiter during the game whether watches were allowed, and he clarified that smartwatches were banned, but not analog watches. This seems to be against FIDE rules for events of this stature,” the Norwegian said on another post.

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A month ago, Magnus Carlsen buried the hatchet with American chess player Hans Niemann after accepting the results of a probe from which stated that there is “no determinative evidence” that Niemann cheated in his game against Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup last year.

On September 4 last year, Niemann had stunned Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup following which Carlsen had withdrawn from the tournament. A week later, the then world champion had quit a game against the American at an online event after making just one move. Carlsen had followed that up by posting a statement in which he said he believed the 19-year-old “has cheated more — and more recently — than he has publicly admitted.” Niemann has previously admitted to cheating when playing online chess when he was 12 and 16, but has denied ever cheating over the board.

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