The Accusations Come Full Circle: Hikaru Nakamura and Arjun Erigaisi

Indian GM Arjun Erigaisi (X)

Hikaru Nakamura had accused Arjun Erigaisi of cheating, without any evidence and now finds himself facing the same allegations from with Vladimir Kramnik.

Hikaru Nakamura had once accused Indian teenage GM Arjun Erigaisi of cheating, that too without any incriminating evidence. The American now finds himself facing the same, with Vladimir Kramnik alleging he cheated in online chess.

Kramnik claimed in a cryptic blog post that Nakamura’s recent 46-match unbeaten streak was suspicious. The pair have been sparring ever since.

“Hikaru used to accuse Arjun of cheating. This was two or three years back. He was pretty confrontative about it. Arjun felt sad about it, that someone he looked up to as a chess player was accusing him just because he was playing well,” Srinath, Arjun’s former coach and mentor, told The Indian Express., the portal where Nakamura hosted the matches in question, said that Kramnik’s accusations ‘lack statistical merit’.

“We have generated nearly 2,000 individual reports on Hikaru’s games in our Fair Play system and have found no incidents of cheating. As to the allegations about Hikaru’s incredible performance streaks (including winning 45.5 games out of 46), we have also looked at the statistics behind this. Our team has done the math and various simulations of streaks for a player like Hikaru who has played more than 50,000 games. We have found that not only is a 45-game winning streak possible, it is in fact likely given the number of games played. We have confirmed these results with external statisticians, including a professor of statistics at a top-10 university,” read’s statement.

Srinath said cheeting was rampant in the initial days of the pandemic, when online chess’s popilarity was o nthe rise.

“But in 2023, we’re in a better place as far as online cheat detection measures are concerned for tournaments. You need to have two cameras on, frontal cameras to show your face. A side-angle cam where your screen is visible,” Srinath said.

“Certainly, there’s paranoia (in chess). When you’re playing, you go through so many emotions that you’re at a point where you’re not totally objective about these things. You’re so involved that you cannot take a step back. So, fear certainly plays a role. Messes with your mind,” Srinath added.