Hans Niemann sues Magnus Carlsen, Chess.com for $100M

‘Chess is Niemann’s life,’ he says.

The chess cheating controversy that has been festering since September has now resurfaced. Hans Niemann, a 19-year-old chess grandmaster, has filed a $100 million lawsuit against world champion Magnus Carlsen and others.

According to the defamation complaint, Chess.com, a famous online platform where players participate in tournaments, conspired with Carlsen and Play Magnus to exclude Niemann from the website and future events in order to “lend credibility to Carlsen’s unfounded and defamatory charges of cheating.” (In August, Carlsen’s successful chess software, Play Magnus, accepted a $83 million takeover offer from Chess.com. According to the lawsuit, the merger would “monopolize the chess world.” It also says that Hikaru Nakamura, Chess.com’s prominent streaming partner, conspired with Carlsen and Chess.com using “visual material” to buttress cheating suspicions. The action also claims that Danny Rensch, Chess.com’s chief chess officer, produced “defamatory news releases.”

According to the federal lawsuit, these activities “destroyed Niemann’s great career in its prime and devastated his life.” “For Niemann, chess is his life.”

On Thursday, Niemann tweeted, “My complaint speaks for itself.”

Polygon emailed Magnus Carlsen’s management, as well as the CEO of Play Magnus Group of Companies and Hikaru Nakamura’s WME agency, but has yet to get a response.

Chess.com’s attorneys, Latham & Watkins, LLP’s Nima Mohebbi and Jamie Wine, made an email comment to Polygon:

We are disappointed by Hans Niemann’s decision to file a lawsuit against Chess.com. We feel his action is detrimental to the game of chess and its loyal players and fans worldwide.

Chess.com is proud of its reputation in the chess world and beyond, and will continue to defend the game, the players, and its purpose of promoting and defending online chess.

Hans officially admitted to internet cheating in the aftermath of the Sinquefield Cup, and the following consequences is entirely his fault. Chess.com had previously handled with Hans’ earlier cheating confidentially, according to its October 2022 article, and was obliged to explain its stance only when he came out publicly.

Hans’ charges are without substance, and Chess.com looks forward to putting the record right on behalf of its crew and all honest chess players.

The chess cheating scandal began in September, when Niemann defeated Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. Carlsen unexpectedly withdrew from the tournament without explaining why. Later following month, at the Julius Baer Generation Cup, he made just one move versus Niemann before turning off his camera and resigned. Carlsen issued a formal statement on September 26th, stating that he suspected Niemann had cheated. Carlsen did not provide evidence, but said that Niemann was “tight or even totally focusing on the game at important positions.”

“Notorious for his inability to deal with loss, Carlsen snapped,” the complaint claims of Carlsen’s post-Sinquefield Cup actions. “Enraged that the youthful Niemann, nearly 12 years his younger, dared to insult the ‘King of Chess,’ Carlsen violently and ruthlessly reacted against Niemann, fearing that the young prodigy would further tarnish his multi-million dollar brand by defeating him again.”

Niemann has never been detected cheating in an over-the-counter match (a match that is played in person rather than online). He did, however, acknowledge to cheating in two Chess.com encounters, one when he was 12 and the other when he was 16. He denied ever cheating in over-the-board games in the same interview. In the same video, he volunteers to play nude to show he isn’t cheating, which led to the absurd assertion that he used anal beads to cheat. (According to the complaint, Sinquefield Cup anti-cheating methods have been improved to include “military-grade metal detecting scans.”) )

Chess.com, on the other hand, banned Niemann from its site on September 8, tweeting an official statement explaining why. In early October, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Chess.com probe discovered that Niemann had breached “fairplay” more than he had claimed, claiming that his cheating had lasted more than 100 games.

According to the lawsuit, Chess.com’s remark is “false” and intended to “further disparage Niemann” by accusing him of being a “lie” in addition to a “serial online cheater.” According to the complaint, “conspiracy theories” went “viral on the internet,” and Niemann has lost chances as a consequence of “defamatory claims,” such as the Tata Steel Chess Tournament “ceasing all communication,” and adolescent Grandmaster Vincent Keymer “refusing to play” in a match against Niemann.

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