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5 Oct, 2022 11:01

US chess star ‘likely cheated more than 100 times’ – investigation

A probe has alleged that US grandmaster Hans Niemann engaged in widespread cheating
US chess star ‘likely cheated more than 100 times’ – investigation

A 72-page report published by Chess.com has alleged that US grandmaster Hans Niemann has cheated in dozens of games, and far more than has previously been reported.

Niemann was central to a media storm two weeks ago when the world’s top player, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, resigned from an online match against the American teenager after making just one move. 

Carlsen later issued a statement via social media in which he noted his suspicion at Niemann’s recent play amid what he alleged was a near-impossible uptick in his abilities on the chess board, and hinted that he believed that Niemann was engaging in a sophisticated campaign of fraud.

Niemann has admitted to cheating on two occasions several years ago, but the report by Chess.com suggests that he “likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games” – as recently as 2020 and including some in which prize money was at stake. 

Outside his online play, Hans is the fastest rising top player in Classical [over-the-board] chess in modern history,” the report stated, as shared by the Wall Street Journal

Looking purely at rating, Hans should be classified as a member of this group of top young players. While we don’t doubt that Hans is a talented player, we note that his results are statistically extraordinary.”

The probe was conducted using technology which compares a player’s moves to those recommended by chess engines and compares a player’s past moves in similar situations to those played in a particular game. It can also measure activity on a player’s web browser during online games.

It was also noted that “dozens” of grandmasters had been caught cheating while playing on Chess.com, including several of the world’s current top 100 ranked players, but added that each had confessed when the allegations were brought to them.

The findings of the report appear to echo Carlsen’s recent allegations against Niemann.

When Niemann was invited last minute to the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I strongly considered withdrawing prior to the event,” Carlsen wrote in his recent statement.

I ultimately chose to play. I believe that Niemann has cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted.

His over-the-board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I only think a handful of players can do. This game contributed to changing my perspective.”

Niemann, though, has sternly rejected any such allegations.

I cheated on random games on Chess.com,” Niemann said.

I was confronted. I confessed. And this is the single biggest mistake of my life. And I am completely ashamed. I am telling the world because I don’t want misrepresentations and I don’t want rumors. I have never cheated in an over–the–board game. And other than when I was 12 years old, I have never cheated in a tournament with prize money.”

FIDE, the body which governs world chess, announced last week that it will conduct its own investigations into the allegations made against Niemann. 

The focus of the investigation would be twofold: checking the world champion’s claims of alleged cheating by Niemann and Niemann’s self-statement regarding online cheating,” FIDE said.

The panel will ensure a fair ruling, protecting the rights of both parties during the investigation.”