Niemann, who has been accused of cheating in online chess tournaments, has fired back against his critics, filing a $100 million defamation claim against Chess.com and rival grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.
American chess grandmaster Hans Niemann has filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit against world champion Magnus Carlsen.
According to NBC News, Niemann claims that Carlsen’s highly publicized allegations of cheating have damaged his reputation and resulted in “devastating damages.”
“My lawsuit speaks for itself,” Niemann wrote on Twitter.
In his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Niemann alleges that Carlsen, Chess.com, and the website’s chief officer—chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura—have been “egregiously defaming [Niemann] and unlawfully colluding to blacklist him from the profession to which he has dedicated his life.”
Specifically, Niemann’s lawsuit seeks damages for slander and libel.
The lawsuit, adds NBC News, comes several weeks after Carlsen—among the most known names in international chess—accused Niemann of cheating.
Niemann and Carlsen, notes NBC, had been scheduled to compete against one another at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis on September 4, 2022.
However, Carlsen backed out of the event, describing Niemann’s progress as “unusual” and claiming that the American chess master “wasn’t fully concentrating on the game” when Niemann defeated him.
Chess.com has since lent some credence to Carlsen’s claims, publishing a 72-page report stating that there were “many remarkable signals and unusual patterns” in Niemann’s play.
Despite its findings, Chess.com said there was no compelling evidence that Niemann cheated in the match—and “no direct evidence” that Niemann had cheated in other in-person games in the past.
While Chess.com seemingly cleared Niemann’s behavior in monitored competitions, the website said that Niemann appears to have cheated in at least 100 online games, saying that while his performance in some matches “[seems] to be within the realm of some statistical possibility, the probability of any single player performing this well across this many games is incredibly low.”
Niemann’s lawsuit claims that this report, too, is defamatory.
NBC News reports that Niemann has aggressively defended his reputation.
After defeating Christopher Yoo in the first round of the 2022 U.S. Championship in St. Louis, Niemann was asked to address the so-called “elephant in the room”—the cheating allegations against him.
“This game is a message to everyone,” Niemann said at the time. “This entire thing started with me saying, ‘Chess speaks for itself,’ and I think this game spoke for itself and showed the chess player that I am.”
Niemann said that his performance—and his continued defense of his own prowess—“also showed that I’m not going to back down, and I’m going to play my best chess here regardless of the pressure that I am under and that’s all I have to say about this game. And, you know, ‘Chess speaks for itself.’ That’s all I can say.”