Chess boss Hans Niemann sues champion Magnus Carlsen and others for $100 million over fraud allegations

Senior American international master Hans Niemann waits for his turn to move during a second-round chess game against Jeffrey Cheung on day two of the St. Louis Chess Club Fall Chess Classic in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 6, 2022.

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Chess grandmaster Hans Niemann has filed a $100 million lawsuit against world champion Magnus Carlsen and others over alleged defamatory statements claiming Niemann cheated on the competition.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants, including Chess.com, inflicted “devastating damages” against Neiman through “blatant defamation” and “unlawful collusion” to keep him out of the professional chess world.

“My claim speaks for itself,” Nieman said in a tweet on Twitter Thursday.

Niemann, 19, has admitted cheating on two occasions, once when he was 12 and the second time when he was 16. But he denied allegations that he cheated in a team match against Magnus Carlsen this year.

Carlsen withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup in September after losing to Niemann, and eventually came forward with concerns that Niemann had cheated in the match in which he defeated Carlsen.

“When Neiman was invited at the last minute to the 2022 Sincofield Cup, I seriously considered withdrawing before the event. I chose to play in the end,” Carlsen, 31, said in a statement posted to Twitter in late September. “I had the impression that he wasn’t nervous or even fully focused on the game in the crucial situations, while he was overpowering me like I was black in a way that I think only a handful of players could do.”

The lawsuit alleges that Carlsen’s comments were a retaliatory attempt to prevent Neiman from damaging his reputation.

Outraged that the young Neiman, who is 12 years his junior, had dared to disrespect the ‘King of Chess,’ and fearing that this young prodigy might tarnish his multimillion-dollar brand by striking back Carlsen with ferocity and malicious vengeance against Neiman,” the lawsuit filed in The eastern district of Missouri where the match took place, it was alleged.

Norway’s World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen poses with the FIDE World Chess Championship trophy after beating his opponent.

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Chess.com later banned Niemann after reporting that an internal investigation revealed more evidence of fraud than Niemann’s public statements.

“We showed him detailed evidence of our decision, including information that contradicts his statements regarding the scale and severity of the Chess.com cheating,” wrote representatives of the chess site in a Hans Niemann report published in early October. “We have invited Hans to provide an explanation and response in the hope of finding a solution where Hans can participate on Chess.com.”

The lawsuit brought by Neiman alleges a conspiracy between the defendants, including Chess.com, popular Chess.com broadcast creator Hikaru Nakamura, and Carlsen, whose “Play Magnus” platform is set to be purchased by Chess.com. In the “Hans Niemann” report, the site denied that Carlsen requested or influenced the decision to close Niemann’s account.

The Chess.com report found no evidence of cheating in Niemann overall matches, including the match against Carlsen, although the site notes that cheat detection is used primarily for online matches.

However, the report claims that Neiman has likely cheated at more than 100 online chess games, including several prize money events. It also shows that Niemann’s Chess.com “strengths” fall within the range of more than a dozen anonymous senior professors who have admitted cheating. The report also notes that Neiman is by far the fastest rising player by yearly winnings in classic chess.

The report cites Chess.com’s cheat discovery as a “best in class,” which elicited cheat confessions from four players in the global top 100. The report says that Neiman himself called it “the best cheat detector in the world”.

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