Joachim B. Nilsen in 2016. Photo: Rolf Haug
Norwegian chess has been rocked by a scandal as IM Joachim B. Nilsen, newly-elected president of the federation and teammate of Magnus Carlsen, was forced to resign a day after admitting to cheating online.
While the wider chess world is grappling with the fall-out from Carlsen accusing Hans Niemann of cheating, another story has gained massive attention in the World Champion's home country in the last few days.
Nilsen, the 29-year-old who was elected president of the federation this summer, replacing legendary grandmaster Simen Agdestein, resigned from the position on Friday a day after the TV network NRK revealed that he had cheated during chess.com's Pro Chess League in 2017.
The International Master was a part of the Norway Gnomes team along with Magnus Carlsen.
Nilsen admitted to having another person in the room while playing who was feeding him moves during three of the games in the match. The team eventually lost the match 3-1.
"It was not allowed, and I am completely clear on that," the International Master told NRK. "The fact that it's many years ago doesn't matter. You are not supposed to do these things at all."
Joachim B. Nilsen during a tournament in Norway in 2016. Photo: Tarjei J. Svensen
Norwegian Grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer, who played for and captained the team, later told VG that he confronted Nilsen with the allegations after receiving an email from chess.com saying that they had put him "under review".
GM Hammer said: "If the player was supposed to play for us again, we would either need a chess.com approved arbiter in the room, or to play with a team member or with another representative from the team.
"I interpreted it as an allegation of cheating, even though it wasn't explicitly written in the email."
The grandmaster said he confronted Nilsen with the allegations, but Joachim denied it.
"I believe people when they answer a direct question, but I was still suspicious. I wanted to use him as little as possible."
Facing pressure from personalities in the Norwegian chess community and commentators in Norway's leading newspaper VG since the story broke, Nilsen announced his resignation today.
"It's the only right thing to do now, to step down," he wrote in his statement, thanking the federation for their support.
While his admission of cheating came as a shock, it was not a huge surprise for many in the Norwegian chess community.
Lars Oskar Hauge, Norway's last grandmaster, told VG: "I knew that he had cheated. All chess people knew about it. But it's nice that he comes forward. I don't think he should have become president, but I guess he has done a good job."
Joachim B. Nilsen has been a board member of Carlsen's own Offerspill Chess Club, and led the Norwegian Youth Chess Federation for two years until he was elected this summer to become one of the Norwegian Chess Federation's youngest ever presidents.
Anniken Vestby has taken over as the new president of the federation, but Nilsen remains the editor of the official magazine.
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