Hans Niemann Sues Magnus Carlsen for Defamation After Chess Cheating Scandal

Hans Niemann Sues Magnus Carlsen for Defamation After Chess Cheating Scandal

Cyd Abnet, Scarlet Staff

Hans Niemann, currently ranked #40 in the world based on his chess success, was recently accused of cheating by the #1 ranked player, Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen sat down to play against Niemann during the 2022 Sinquefield Cup and resigned from the game after a singular move. Following this resignation, Carlsen also withdrew from the tournament without warning. He later made a statement via Twitter stating that he believes Niemann has “cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted” because there is no way that Niemann was able to come up with a perfect response to Carlsen’s opening play as well as shoot up in the chess rankings as quickly as he did without some sort of aid. Niemann has admitted to cheating twice in his career, however in online games instead of in-person over-the-board games. As one can imagine, it is much easier to cheat in online games through platforms such as Chess.com than it is to cheat in person, which has led to a lot of speculation on what exactly Niemann has been doing in order to cheat.

There are several theories as to how Niemann was able to cheat in an in-person tournament. The most popular (and most hilarious) theory is that Niemann used some sort of vibrating device controlled by a chess-playing computer to dictate his next move. There is currently no evidence supporting this particular theory, however many coders are trying to replicate the device to see if this method is even a possibility. As noted by programmer Ron Sijm who has created Buttfish, a possible model for Niemann’s device, it is incredibly difficult to translate a series of pulses into carrying out a chess move. While it is a fun theory, it is not clear whether there is any truth in it or not.

The allegations made by Carlsen have shaken the chess world, so much so that Chess.com launched its own investigation into whether or not Niemann had been cheating on their platform to match his cheating in real life. The investigation was unable to prove that he had cheated since August 2020 when he turned himself in, but the investigators were able to say that Niemann cheated in more than 100 games, which is more games than he had previously admitted to cheating in. The International Chess Federation (FIDE) is currently launching an investigation into Niemann’s over-the-board play but has not reported their findings yet.

In the wake of the accusations, Niemann has not been silent. He has said that he will not back down and that his chess playing speaks for itself, insinuating that his chess playing was completely genuine and not falsified in any way. In the latest development in this saga, Niemann is now filing a lawsuit against Carlsen for $100 million dollars, claiming defamation. Chess.com has made it clear that they are not in support of Niemann pressing charges, as it takes away from the integrity and culture of the game of chess. Carlsen has not yet responded to the allegations that Niemann has laid against him, and many are struggling to take the lawsuit seriously as Niemann is only 19 years old, as well as suing Carlsen for saying something that seems in the realm of possibility based on his cheating history.

There is seemingly no resolution in sight between Niemann, Carlsen, and the chess community. However, it is clear that Niemann is very serious about getting what he believes he deserves to offset the amount of shame and defamation that Carlsen’s statement has created. Without the support of Chess.com and the wider chess community, it is unclear how successful Niemann will be going forward in his efforts for justice.

Correction: Magnus “Carlson” changed to “Carlsen” on Nov. 1.