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Chess cheating scandal: Hans Niemann sues Magnus Carlsen for $100 million

Click to play video: 'Magnus Carlsen chess scandal: Did a grandmaster use a sex toy to cheat?'
Magnus Carlsen chess scandal: Did a grandmaster use a sex toy to cheat?
Home to the world's largest chess piece, St. Louis, Mo., is now at the centre of an outsized controversy — one player accused by the reigning champion of cheating by wearing vibrating wearable devices that gave him the right moves – Sep 16, 2022

Hans Niemann, a 19-year-old chess grandmaster, is suing Magnus Carlsen, the world chess champion, for defamation in a lawsuit that seeks US$100 million in damages. This development is the latest in a weeks-long cheating scandal that began when the upstart Niemann defeated Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup in September.

The lawsuit also names Chess.com and popular streamer Hikaru Nakamura, who is also a chess grandmaster, as defendants, accusing them of slander and libel.

Chess.com, the world’s largest online chess site, recently released a 72-page report that accused Niemann of cheating in over 100 games, which they say prompted them to ban him from the million-dollar Chess.com Global Championship, whose finals are taking place in Toronto this year. Nakamura has weighed in on the accusations against Niemann many times on his livestreams, which are regularly watched by hundreds of thousands of chess fans.

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“My lawsuit speaks for itself,” Niemann tweeted on Thursday with a copy of the lawsuit.

Niemann alleges that Carlsen, Nakamura, Chess.com and its chief chess officer Daniel Rensch launched a smear campaign against him, “egregiously defaming him and unlawfully colluding to blacklist him from the profession to which he has dedicated his life,” the lawsuit reads.

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Lawyers for Chess.com say there is “no merit” to Niemann’s lawsuit and dismissed the allegations. They say the company is looking forward to “setting the record straight on behalf of its team and all honest chess players.”

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Many consider Carlsen to be the best chess player in the world — so it was a major upset when he lost to a rising 19-year-old grandmaster at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. After losing, Carlsen tweeted a cryptic message that led observers to believe he was insinuating that Niemann cheated, leading to a frenzy of speculation and allegations.

Wild rumours culminated in a theory that Niemann used vibrating anal beads to have the best statistical moves communicated to him remotely. Niemann even offered to play naked to dispel the rumour.

Carlsen eventually formally accused Niemann of cheating after the two had an online rematch and Carlsen quit after making just one move.

Niemann has repeatedly defended himself against the cheating allegations since the controversy began on Sept. 4 but acknowledged that he cheated when he was 12 and 16 in online chess.

After winning his first round of the 2022 U.S. Championship in St. Louis, Niemann said in a post-game interview that “Chess speaks for itself,” and that he thinks performance has shown people the kind of chess player he is.

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The Guardian’s chess correspondent Leonard Barden writes that the tournament’s “expensive state-of-the art security precautions, with metal-detecting wands, radio-frequency scanners, and scanners for checking silicon devices, were probably the most thorough for any chess tournament in history.”

By its end, there were no serious allegations of cheating and Niemann tied for fifth. He squarely maintained his elite ranking of around 2700 ELO, a ranking system that calculates the relative skill of a player.

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