A teenage chess player at the centre of an alleged cheating scandal has launched a $100m (£89m) defamation lawsuit against world champion and online platform Chess.com.
Hans Niemann, 19, has been charged with extensive cheating after a Chess.com investigation that ruled it was ‘Probably’ he cheated in over 100 online games.
His previous victory over 31-year-old world champion Magnus Carlsen – considered the greatest player of all time – sent shockwaves through the world chess world.
Chess.com has banned Niemann, the world’s most popular chess platform, for compiling its reports using detection tools and analysis of player moves against computer-recommended moves.
The investigation found no evidence that Niemann cheated face-to-face on Carlson or any other face-to-face game.
But it does suggest widespread online cheating.
Neiman breaks silence, says he ‘will not back down’
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. state court in Missouri, also names Carlson’s online chess platform Play Magnus, Chess.com executive Danny Rensch and American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura as defendants.
Niemann claims the accused is “colluding” to “blacklist” him from the professional chess world, and has been shunned by tournament organisers since five-time world champion Carlsen publicly accused him of cheating.
Carlson’s surprise loss to Neiman followed his withdrawal from the Hinkfield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri, in September, sparking a flurry of comments and allegations, including from Nakamura, that the American cheated.
Weeks after the Hinkfield Cup, the Norwegian resigned just one step away from Nyman in an online tournament.
Chess.com’s lawyers said in a statement Thursday that Neiman’s allegations are without merit and the company is saddened by his decision to take legal action.
“Chess.com looks forward to breaking records on behalf of its team and all honest players.”
Representatives for Carlson and Nakamura did not respond to requests for comment.
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Niemann, who was previously banned from Chess.com for cheating online, admits he played unfairly in non-competitive games on the site as a young man, but denies any wrongdoing while playing the board game.
Chess.com “has barred Nieman from access to its website and all future activity in support of Carlson’s baseless and defamatory allegations of cheating,” his lawsuit said.
“Carlson cemented his status as the ‘chess king’, believing that when it comes to chess he can do whatever he wants and get away with it,” the complaint added.
The lawsuit further alleges that Chess.com’s streaming partner, Nakamura, posted “hours of video content that amplifies and attempts to support Carlson’s false cheating allegations.”
The Chess Federation said last month it would launch an investigation into the cheating allegations.