Hans Niemann is suing Magnus Carlsen and others for $100 million over chess dishonest claims

Chess grandmaster Hans Niemann filed a $100 million lawsuit against world champion Magnus Carlsen and others for allegedly defamatory statements alleging that Niemann cheated in the competition.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants, including Chess.com, inflicted “devastating damage” on Niemann by “outrageously defaming him” and “unlawfully conspiring” to ban him from the professional chess world.

“My lawsuit speaks for itself,” Niemann said in a Twitter post on Thursday.

Niemann, 19, has twice admitted to cheating, once when he was 12 and a second time when he was 16. But he denied claims that he cheated in an over-the-board match against Magnus Carlsen earlier this year.

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

“When Niemann was invited to the 2022 Sinquefield Cup at the last minute, I seriously considered withdrawing before the event. I ultimately decided to play,” said Carlsen, 31, in a statement posted to Twitter in late September. “I got the impression that he wasn’t tense in critical positions or even fully focused on the game while he outplayed me as a black player in a way that I think only a handful of players can do.”

The lawsuit alleges that Carlsen’s comments were an attempt at retaliation to stop Niemann from tarnishing his reputation.

“Angry that young Niemann, a full 12 years his junior, dared to disregard the ‘King of Chess’ and feared that the young prodigy would further soil his multi-million dollar mark by beating him again, Carlsen punched viciously and maliciously back against Niemann,” alleges the lawsuit, which was filed in Missouri’s Eastern District, where the game took place.

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway poses with the FIDE World Chess Championship trophy after defeating the challenger.

AKMEN ACCOMMODATION | AFP | Getty Images

Chess.com then banned Niemann after it was reported that an internal investigation uncovered evidence of more cheating than Niemann’s public statements had suggested.

“We have provided him with detailed evidence supporting our decision, including information that contradicts his statements about the amount and severity of his cheating on Chess.com,” Chess website officials wrote in the “Hans Niemann Report” published in early October. “We have asked Hans to provide an explanation and response in hopes of finding a solution where Hans can participate on Chess.com.”

Niemann’s lawsuit alleges conspiracy between the defendants, including Chess.com, popular Chess.com streamer Hikaru Nakamura, and Carlsen, whose “Play Magnus” platform Chess.com is set to buy. In the “Hans Niemann Report,” the website denies that Carlsen requested or influenced the closure of Niemann’s account.

Chess.com’s report found no evidence of cheating in Niemann’s over-the-board matches, including the match against Carlsen, although the site notes that its cheating detection is primarily used for online matches.

However, the report claims Niemann likely cheated in over 100 online chess games, including several prize-money events. It also shows that Chess.com’s “Strength Score” is in the range of over a dozen anonymous grandmasters who have admitted cheating. The report also notes that Niemann is by far the fastest rising player in over-the-board classical chess in terms of annual gains.

Niemann’s lawsuit for defamation and collusion calls him an “American chess prodigy,” but Chess.com casts doubt on that claim. The report states that of the 13 grandmasters under the age of 25, Niemann is the only one who became a grandmaster after the age of 16. He is generally referred to as “statistically extraordinary”.

The report points to Chess.com’s “best” cheat detection, which has garnered cheating admissions from four players in the world’s top 100. The report states that Niemann himself called it “the best cheat detection in the world”.

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