It has been 50 years since the most famous chess match of all time – a Cold War clash that saw the US and the Soviet Union battle over a chessboard.
America’s Bobby Fischer eventually defeated world champion Boris Spassky, but the contest was far bigger than just two men and 64 squares. It always had been.
The game of chess has existed for nearly 1,500 years, but in the 20th century it became a vessel for the US and the USSR to vie for intellectual supremacy – amid allegations of collusion and scandal.
The popular game is now back in the news after world number one Magnus Carlsen lost in a shock upset to Hans Niemann, and allegations of cheating against Neumann followed.
Sky News takes a look at some of the biggest scandals in the history of Chess, and how it has shaped our geopolitics.
Magnus Carlsen calls out Hans Niemann and says cheating is an ‘existential threat’ to chess
It’s the scandal that has been rumbling on for weeks and has now boiled over with an explosive statement from Magnus Carlsen.
Carlsen, the current world number one and widely considered to be one of the best of all time, pulled out of a tournament earlier this month after losing to teenager Hans Niemann.
Later, in an online rematch against Niemann, Carlsen resigned after making only one move.
The pair of defeats for the game’s best active player led to allegations of cheating against Niemann, who had been ranked significantly lower than Carlsen.
On Monday, Carlsen issued a blistering statement on Twitter saying that he thought Niemann “has cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted”.
Niemann has admitted to cheating in online games in the past, but has rejected any suggestions he has ever done so in over the board (in person) chess or that he has used computer assistance in a major tournament.
1962: Bobby Fischer cries foul over a series of Soviet draws
The Carlsen-Niemann feud may be under the spotlight, but it’s by no means the first scandal to hit the chess world.
Ten years before his famous match-up with Spassky, Bobby Fischer claimed that Soviet players were colluding at the 1962 Candidates Tournament.
Controversial player Fischer alleged that the Soviets had conspired to prevent any non-Soviet from winning the tournament.
He claimed that the players who eventually finished as the top three – Tigran Petrosian, Paul Keres and Efin Geller – had prearranged to draw all 12 of the their games against each other in order to conserve their energy for the end of the tournament.
In a 2002 interview Yuri Averbakh, who was head of the Soviet team, confirmed the existence of the drawing pact.
Chess as a battleground for the Cold War
In the 1960s and 1970s the Cold War was in full swing and chess was highly popular and seen as a battleground between the Soviet Union and America.
“For the Soviet Union, supremacy at the chess board was a demonstration – as its rulers saw it – of the superiority of their socialist system over the Western capitalist one”, English Chess Federation Dominic Lawson told the BBC in 2005.
Fischer’s victory over the Russian Spassky is probably the most famous chess matchup of all time and – briefly – ended 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Championship.
Three French masters accused of trying to cheat by text
Three French masters-level players were suspended after they were accused of using an elaborate text scheme to cheat at a tournament in 2010.
Cyril Marzolo followed developments over the internet and used computer software to establish the best next move, the BBC reported.
The move was then sent in a coded text message to another member of the team, Arnaud Hauchard, who would then sit at a particular table in the competition hall to communicate the move to Sebastien Feller who was playing the game.
Couple ‘likely dead’ after yacht hijacked by escaped convicts
An American couple who disappeared a week ago after their catamaran was hijacked by three escaped convicts are likely dead, police have said.
Police Commissioner Don McKenzie said the prisoners had escaped custody on the Caribbean island of Grenada on the 18 February and the following day commandeered a catamaran named Simplicity – with Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry on board.
“Information suggests that while travelling between Grenada and St Vincent, they disposed of the occupants,” Commissioner McKenzie said.
The couple was last seen on the night the prisoners escaped and their boat was later tracked leaving the Grenada late at night at an unusual speed.
Police in St Vincent and the Grenadines captured the three fugitives on Wednesday, he said, adding that a team from Grenada had been dispatched to collaborate on “having a complete and thorough investigation of the matters at hand”.
The island nations are separated by about 85 nautical miles.
Ron Mitchell, 30, Trevon Robertson, 19, and 25-year-old Abita Stanislaus were being held at the South Saint George Police Station near Grenada’s southwestern tip on charges of robbery with violence, when they escaped.
Mitchell also faces counts of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.
Police from St Vincent said in a statement they had discovered the ship with no bodies but items strewn across the deck and possible blood on board.
On Monday the suspects appeared in court in St Vincent on four immigration counts, to which they pleaded guilty, and they had been remanded into custody with sentencing set for 4 March.
St Vincent Police Superintendent Junior Simmons said that though the couple are presumed dead, “the investigation and search for the missing persons continues.”
Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show
An Australian photographer claims he was punched by Taylor Swift’s dad in Sydney following the singer’s concert.
Ben McDonald said he told police the incident happened at Neutral Bay Wharf, where Swift and her dad had just come ashore from a yacht hours after the singer’s final show in the city.
While officers did not release names, police said they are investigating an alleged assault by a 71-year-old man on a 51-year-old man at 2.30am local time.
Swift’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Rolling Stone magazine two people were “aggressively pushing” to get to Swift.
They added that the people grabbed security and threatened a member of the singer’s staff.
Mr McDonald said media had been waiting to picture the star as she walked towards two cars.
“There were about four or five security there and at one point, one of the American security started shoving his umbrella into me and my camera and then Taylor got in her car,” he said.
“Someone else came running at me and punched me in the left side of my face.
“Initially, I thought it was an Australian security that was trying to be the hero of the moment in the front of the Americans, but as it turned out it was her father.”
Mr McDonald said he recognised Swift’s father, Scott Swift, from a picture online – adding that he doesn’t have any bruising and didn’t need any treatment.
“In 23 years, I haven’t been assaulted and punched in the chops, particularly by the talent’s dad,” he said.
“We didn’t go rushing down the jetty. We didn’t go rushing to the back of the boat. We waited for her to come up. Kept it very civil.
“But no, they… put the umbrellas up and umbrellas over her and then shove the umbrellas into our faces and then make out that we’re the ones making contact with them.”
Swift left the country on Tuesday after more than 600,000 fans saw her Eras Tour performance across seven concerts.
Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed ‘by end of the weekend’
Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can be secured by the weekend.
The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, next door to 30 Rock in New York, on Monday.
Flanked by late night TV show host Seth Meyers, Mr Biden was asked by reporters on when a ceasefire in Gaza could start.
In a surprise turn, he said that he hopes it will take place “by the end of the weekend”.
“My national security advisor (Jake Sullivan) tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” he said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”
Mr Biden’s comments come as Israel prepares to start a military operation in Rafah – which he has warned against without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.
Israel has said it will go ahead with an offensive on the city if hostages are not returned by 10 March, which is when Ramadan starts.
According to NBC News, Sky news’ US partner network, Qatar is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas this week, and ceasefire negotiations have taken place between US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.
Should it happen, it would be the second ceasefire following one in November which saw several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli jails and about 100 hostages freed by Hamas.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said earlier on Monday that the Israeli Defence Force proposed a plan for the evacuation of civilians from “fighting areas” to the country’s war cabinet.
This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.
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