Chess grandmaster Hans Niemann filed a $100 million lawsuit against world champion Magnus Carlsen and others for alleged defamatory statements claiming that Niemann cheated in competition.
The suit claims that the defendants, including Chess.com, inflicted “Devastating damages” against Niemann by “Egregiously defaming him” and “Unlawfully colluding” to bar him from the professional chess world.
Niemann, 19, has admitted to cheating on two occasions, once when he was 12 years old and a second time when he was 16.
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.
Chess.com subsequently banned Niemann after reporting that an internal investigation revealed evidence of more cheating than Niemann’s public statements had expressed.
“We have shared detailed evidence with him concerning our decision, including information that contradicts his statements regarding the amount and seriousness of his cheating on Chess.com,” representatives from the Chess website wrote in the “Hans Niemann Report” published in early October.
“We have invited Hans to provide an explanation and response with the hope of finding a resolution where Hans can participate on Chess.com.” Niemann’s lawsuit alleges a conspiracy between the defendants, including Chess.com, popular Chess.com streamer Hikaru Nakamura and Carlsen, whose “Play Magnus” platform is set to be bought by Chess.com.
In the “Hans Niemann Report,” the website denies that Carlsen asked or influenced the decision to shut down Niemann’s account.
“Hans Niemann has an admitted history of cheating and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to deflect blame onto others,” Carlsen’s lawyer, Craig Reiser, said in a statement to CNBC. “His legal claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them.” The report from Chess.com did not find evidence of cheating in Niemann’s over-the-board matches, including the match against Carlsen, though the website notes that its cheating detection is primarily used for online matches.
The report does allege that Niemann likely cheated in over 100 online chess games, including several prize money events. 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.
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