Hikaru Nakamura has released a statement responding to the drama between him and fellow chess grandmaster Eric Hansen, apologising to the chess community.
The recent tension between the two players was sparked following a controversial blitz match on 27th March 2021, where player miscommunication led to Nakamura accusing Hansen of trying to win via flagging — a tactic where the other player runs down the other’s clock while avoiding checkmate. While it’s considered a viable strategy, it’s largely frowned upon by the chess community.
Nakamura offered a draw which Hansen claims he didn’t see in time, sparking an irritated reaction from the former who deemed it “bad sportsmanship".
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Hansen was one of many chess personalities to share video of the match and player cams in the aftermath, which all received copyright strikes at the time attributed to Nakamura (it's since been uploaded in full above). It was later claimed by Chessbae94, who manages Nakamura’s YouTube channel, their network Bent Pixels Select issued the strike and not them.
Chessbae94 has since been removed as a moderator from Chess.com, and now in a statement, Nakamura has announced he’ll no longer be working with her.
“This has gone far enough,” Nakamura wrote in a Twitlonger post. "This is not only bad for all involved, but bad for chess. Our audience and fans have high expectations for how we all behave, and by this infighting and negativity we are letting them down - myself included.
“As you know, I have been a fierce competitor all of my life. I play to win. Having said that, this desire to win and my extreme competitive nature sometimes crosses over into real life. In hindsight, I realize that at times my demeanor when interacting with others has been negative. I truly apologize, and will work on that.”
Nakamura states he’s going to take a more active role in managing his accounts, adding: “While well intentioned, I fully acknowledge that those working on my behalf with me should not have aggressively pursued the copyright strikes. From now on, I will have more visibility into all things related to my account and business.
“I will no longer be working with Chessbae. I appreciate what she has done for me and the world of chess, but it is time to move on with a new team.
“In regards to Chessbrah/Eric Hansen, we need to connect privately to try to resolve our issues. I will not do this in a public forum and will not speak publicly about him again. As two of the game’s most high profile chess content creators, we have a responsibility to the community to at least meet as professionals.
“For those disappointed in how we all have acted, I truly apologize. Clearly I love this game, and my passion can at times get the best of me. I hope we all can move forward from this, and focus on what matters most.”
Nakamura is a five-time chess champion from the US, who signed with esports organisation TSM in August last year.