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The Hans Niemann Report: Chess.com and FIDE Investigate

Chess.com investigate the recent Hans Niemann cheating scandal. Was there foul play at work? Has it all been blown out of proportion?

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Following what Chess.com describes as “a matter of significant public interest both inside and outside the chess world”, a report has been released exploring the cheating allegations against 19-year-old Hans Niemann.

Stemming from Magnus Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup, the 72-page document doesn’t match up with Niemann’s repeated denial of foul play. Along with FIDE, the chess governing body, an investigation is taking place.

Chess.com: The Hans Niemann Report

Publicly released on Tuesday 4th October, Chess.com produced a 72-page document stating their “current research and findings” on the issue. Summing up the report they said, “we present evidence in this report that Hans likely cheated online much more than his public statement suggests.”

It is worth noting that they highlighted online play and did explicitly state “there is a lack of concrete statistical evidence that he cheated in his game with Magnus or in any other over-the-board [aka in-person] games.” This doesn’t rule out, therefore, the possibility of cheating and instead suggests it is something they are still investigating. The report does, later on, say they “had suspicions about Hans’ play against Magnus at the Sinquefield cup, which were intensified by the public fallout from the event.” This is one of the reasons that contributed to the actions Chess.com decided to take.

Rather than solely Magnus Carlsen’s withdrawal, the Niemann cheating scandal has escalated into something much, much bigger.

Defending their business, Chess.com made it clear that their “mission has always remained the same: to grow the game of chess and to help people enjoy their lives through playing, learning and watching chess.” Are they taking this scandal as a public attack on them? Perhaps the investigation is a way for Chess.com to reclaim its reputation as arguably the biggest chess site online. With nearly 100 million members it is vital they remain popular.

A Timeline of Events

31-year-old Magnus Carlsen is defeated by 19-year-old Hans Niemann in a Sinquefield Cup match on the 4th of September, 2022.

On September 5th, 2022, Chess.com privately emailed Hans Niemann to let him know that his account had been closed and an invitation to CGC (The Chess.com Global Championships) had been withdrawn. I guess what Chess.com didn’t expect was for everything to get so public!

The day after the ban, Niemann publicly addresses the decision admitting to cheating when he was 12 and 16 years old but never “in a tournament with prize money”, “when I was streaming” or in a “real game.” Okay, so these are the three allegations that Chess.com decided to try and disprove.

September 8th, Chess.com send a letter to Niemann outlining their reasons for dismissal.

26th of September, 2022, Magnus Carlsen releases a public statement on Twitter stating he believes that Niemann is a cheat.

Magnus Carlsen’s statement

Magnus Carlsen/ StockPhotoVideo

Expressing his frustration with the chess world, Carlsen said he believes “those chess organizers… should seriously consider increasing security measures and methods of cheat detection for over-the-board chess.” Instead of a statement completely directed at Niemann, Carlsen attacks the whole chess world.

The most prolific part of Carlsen’s statement was his unmistakable views on Niemann. “I believe that Niemann has cheated more- and more recently- than he publicly admitted.” That’s a pretty clear statement and one that’s impossible to twist. The allegations aren’t just rumors anymore. Any confusion from Carlsen’s previous Jose Mourinho meme is being squashed. He believes Niemann is a cheat.

Almost challenging Niemann to respond, Carlsen ends his statement by saying “unfortunately I am limited in what I can say without explicit permission from Niemann to speak openly.” Sounds to me like once again this story isn’t over. The waiting game continues.

The question still stands, is it possible to cheat in a real-life game? I guess really it’s a test of the age-old phrase ‘once a cheat, always a cheat.’

Written By

Hello! I am a third year undergraduate student at the University of York studying English Literature. I am currently editor of my student publication York Vision and I have been working with Trill since 2022.

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