Chess cheating scandal

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Chess champion Magnus Carlsen's strong statement is available here.

The chess cheating scandal of 2022 concerned a highly unlikely ostensible victory on September 4 by a 19-year-old relatively low-ranked player named Hans Niemann, playing with the weaker black pieces, against the greatest player of our time, Magnus Carlsen, while Carlsen was on an unbeaten streak. This was the second improbable defeat by Niemann with the black pieces against Carlsen in merely a few months, and the second consecutive improbable win by Niemann against a higher-ranked player in the tournament. Carlsen then quit the chess tournament (the Sinquefield Cup 2022), which is nearly unprecedented, and it was inferred that Carlsen felt he had been cheated by Niemann, which Niemann denied. See Magnus-Niemann chess match.

The odds of a player of Niemann's lower rank defeating the high-ranking Carlsen twice with the black pieces is estimated to be only 1 in 2,500. In addition, in the game at the Sinquefield Cup prior to his reported victory over Carlsen, Niemann was far behind on time but made a string of perfect moves to improbably defeat the #14 player in the world, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The Saint Louis Chess Club had refused a request by the #2 player in the world, Ian "Nepo" Nepomniachtchi, for tighter security against possible cheating by Niemann.[1] Then, after tighter security measures were finally installed by the chess club, Niemann was unable to win another game.

Amid the controversy, women looking and dressed like casino workers oddly showed up at the Saint Louis Chess Club, where the tournament was held, in order to stand foolishly against Magnus Carlsen. No explanation of who paid for the showgirls has been provided, but an inference is that gambling may be inducing cheating in chess.

The liberal media conceal the possible impact of gambling on this controversy, in their many stories about this. Liberal trolls on the internet wrongly pilloried Carlsen as he stood for integrity.

After the Saint Louis Chess Club changed its rules in the middle of its tournament to require a 15-minute delay on its broadcasts, the level of play by Hans Niemann sharply declined. He won 2 of his first 3 games against very highly ranked opponents before the adoption of a safeguard against cheating, and then lost or tied all 6 of his remaining games after the safeguard was implemented.[2] All the games in this tournament can be analyzed at,[3] which banned Hans Niemann from its platform in September 2022.

About two weeks later, Carlsen was matched against Niemann in another tournament and, in an apparent protest against Niemann, Carlsen resigned after making only one move.[4] Carlsen subsequently confirmed that he will not play Niemann in the future because of the cheating issue.[5]

Gambling on Chess

Beginning in 2018, there was a sharp increase in gambling on chess games, and by 2022 many millions of dollars are bet on the game outcomes on numerous different websites, in Las Vegas, and around the world. The 1-in-2,500 unlikely foregoing victories by an unheralded player, who has admitted to having cheated in online games in the past, may create doubt as to whether there should payouts on bets on these implausible outcomes.

Detection Evasion

Detection evasion is a central part of any sophisticated chess cheating strategy. Tactics to avoid detection of chess cheating can include:

  • harmless mistakes that matter little in the game but which lower the overall accuracy rating compared with computer-directed moves;
  • running down one's own clock unnecessarily, as the computer-generated moves are instantaneous;
  • spacing the brilliant computer-generated moves, and pushing them more towards the end of the game;
  • avoid any blunders in a game based on computer guidance; and/or
  • using novel or less-common openings.

As explained in Forbes:

The world’s strongest grandmasters would only need the help of a chess engine for a few moves during a long game to have an immense edge against their opponent of roughly equal strength. Many grandmasters say very subtle cheating by a top player could evade statistical analysis of their gameplay.[6]

Analysis of play by Hans Niemann in Sinquefield Cup

In the improbable back-to-back victories by Hans Niemann in the Sinquefield Cup 2022, his endgame "play" was extraordinary in both games against more highly rated opponents, before stricter controls against possible cheating were installed by the tournament organizers.

In Round 2, in the last 11 moves Niemann made one extraordinary move ("!" - "great move") move, many superb ones, and not a single mistake.[7] In Round 3, in the last dozen moves Niemann made three extraordinary moves ("!" - "great move"), many superb ones, and not a single mistake.[8]

In his Round 1 match against Levon Aronian, which played to a draw, Niemann did not make single "mistake" or "blunder" in 50 moves, and played with an extraordinary 95.5 accuracy compared with computer play. The higher-ranked Aronian simply played extraordinarily well also to force a draw.[9]

In his three games before security against cheating was tightened at the Sinquefield Cup 2022, Niemann played with an exceptional accuracy of 95.5, 93, and 94.1, compared post-security-enhancement with his losing game with the white pieces against Fabiano Caruana when Niemann's accuracy was only 86.7.[10]

Analysis of the background of Hans Niemann

As explained by a commentator on

  • Hans Niemann went from a 2400-2500 rating plateau to 2700 sand above faster than most of the finest prodigies (Magnus Carlsen, Firouzja, Sarin, and Gukesh). "And so Hans' rating at the beginning of 2021 was around 2,500, and now his rating is approximately 2,700 - a really significant, almost unprecedented rise for somebody in that period of time."[11]
  • Hans has admitted to cheating online.
  • at one point, Hans played 4 members of the finest chess players in the world (ratings above 2800 club in a row), easily defeating 3 out of 4 and tying the 4th while nearly defeating him.[12]

As reported by ChessBase on October 4, 2022:

the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy article sharing the findings emerging from an investigation conducted by According to the piece, asserts that Hans Niemann “likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games, as recently as 2020”, including in many tournaments with prize money on the line.[13]

Reaction by other top players

The popular streamer Hikaru Nakamura was critical of Niemann. On September 26, 2022, after Magnus Carlsen made his strong statement, Nakamura stated:

I would also say it is extremely clear in this letter that Magnus put out that basically Magnus has something, who knows what he has. ... The ball is very clearly in Hans’ court now. What will Hans do here is the big question.[14]

Amid silence by Hans Niemann immediately following Magnus Carlsen's accusation on September 26, 2022, of cheating, Hikaru Nakamura said:

If Hans doesn’t say anything, the way I see it, it feels like he’s admitting something.

Another top player, Levon Aronian, was initially defending Niemann but many days later "gave a rather different comment this time in the official broadcast:"[15] Aronian played to a draw against Niemann in Round 1 of the Sinquefield Cup 2022, before the enhanced security measures were installed and Niemann played with an astounding accuracy of 95.5, with the white pieces.

In the next tournament, the Julius Baer Generation Cup 2022, on Day 3 Niemann defeated Aronian in a mere 21 moves, which is highly unusual, and the game is said to have been lost after merely 14 moves. According to Chess Network, "Niemann's play was exceptional in the eyes of the computer, with some moves being described by Aronian after the game as 'strange'."[16]

Reaction by FIDE

The governing body of chess, FIDE, issued a weak, middle-of-the-road style of statement reminding everyone that the Sinquefield Cup was not an FIDE event, and that FIDE does oppose cheating in chess.[17] The FIDE failed to support Magnus Carlsen as much as it should have, as Carlsen takes a strong stance against cheating in chess.

After Carlsen released his full statement accusing Niemann of cheating, FIDE announced on September 30, 2022, its formation of a 3-person ad hoc committee to investigate.[18]

Reaction by Liberal Media

The liberal media tended to criticize the defender of integrity in chess, Magnus Carlsen.[19]

Frivolous lawsuit by Niemann

On Oct. 20, 2022, Niemann and a top New York City law firm sued the following entities and individuals for an absurd figure of $100 million, in federal court in the Eastern District of Missouri:

The lawsuit claims four times that Plaintiff Niemann is a "prodigy" at chess, and asserts five frivolous -- but intimidating -- causes of action:

  • slander
  • libel
  • violation of the Section One Sherman Act (antitrust law)
  • tortious interference
  • civil conspiracy

The lawsuit alleges that "Notorious for his inability to cope with defeat, Carlsen snapped" when Niemann ostensibly defeated Carlsen by playing near-perfect chess with the black pieces and merely a harmless error near the end of the match.

As of October 22, the case had not been assigned to a district court judge, but a magistrate judge has granted motion for the New York City law firm to pursue the case in the courtroom in St. Louis.

An analysis on Bloomberg of similar cases brought in the past indicates that it is unlikely the plaintiff would prevail.[20]

Response by

As posted by defendant in response to the lawsuit, on its website:

Hans confessed publicly to cheating online in the wake of the Sinquefield Cup, and resulting fallout is of his own making. As stated in its October 2022 report, had historically dealt with Hans’ prior cheating privately, and was forced to clarify its position only after he spoke out publicly.

There is no merit to Hans’ allegations, and looks forward to setting the record straight on behalf of its team and all honest chess players.[21]

Amendment by Niemann

Niemann amended his complaint in January 2023, by adding a bizarre allegation that Magnus Carlsen had paid a fellow Norwegian to shout an accusation of cheater at Niemann, in Norwegian, at the end of a chess tournament. But the specifically spelled word as alleged in the Amended Complaint does not identically exist in Norwegian (perhaps a misspelling or typo, but a fundamental one central to the allegation), and the substance of this new allegation is publicly doubted by others.[22].

Analysis of Niemann's Career

An in-depth analysis of many games played by Niemann throughout his chess career suggest some statistical anomalies.[23]

An analysis of his claims about being a top-ranked or #3-ranked child cyclist for his age group are doubted by an investigative report.[24]

Dembski's analysis

William Dembski's intelligent design approach to this controversy, whereby statistical improbability is used to determine whether to infer design, is set forth in this interview of him by Eric Anderson.[25]

Biased Wikipedia Entry

In its typically biased and convoluted style, Wikipedia has a long-winded entry about the issue that obscures. Wikipedia's title misleading describes this as merely a controversy between Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann.[26] Wikipedia makes no mention of gambling despite the unexplained presence of women who looked like casino showgirls to protest in support of the 19-year-old Niemann, and the immense improbable jackpot for gamblers when a weak player using the black pieces defeats the best-of-all-time Carlsen as Niemann did. Wikipedia quotes a few over-the-hill players unfamiliar with sophisticated, possibly gambling-funded cheating, who criticized Carlsen, without Wikipedia including that multiple top players today side with Carlsen about this and have criticized Niemann. Wikipedia fails to fully explain cheating by Niemann's coach in the past. Wikipedia quotes the liberal Slate as though it were an authority.

See also