A 72-page report, filed by Chess.com, a website where top players compete, found that US grandmaster Hans Niemann likely received illegal help in more than 100 online games, and no later. than in 2020.
The whole fiasco started when Niemann, a 19-year-old who has risen to the top 50 in the world in the past four years, shocked Carlsen as he played for the black pieces at the Sinquefield Cup. Carlsen then abruptly left the tournament. Although Carlsen refused to divulge his reason for leaving the tournament, other than a cryptic message on Twitter, the chess community interpreted his action as a protest. Carlsen’s shock defeat and withdrawal sparked a maelstrom of comments and allegations that Niemann was cheating. The most vocal voice was Hikaru Nakamura, the American grandmaster once ranked No. 2 in the world.
When the pair met again at an online event weeks later, Carlsen left the game after making a single move. Then a few days later, he publicly confirmed his suspicions about Niemann.
When Carlsen had left the Sinquefield Cup and Niemann was under fire, the American launched a passionate defense. Niemann admitted he had cheated in the past, but only at two points in his life, describing them as youthful indiscretions committed at the age of 12 and 16.
He said he was willing to “play naked” to prove his innocence and had never cheated overboard at chess.
However, the recent investigation into Niemann’s gambling revealed that his cheating was much wider and more enduring than he had publicly admitted. More importantly, the matches in which he likely cheated included contests in which cash prizes were at stake. The report states that Niemann privately confessed to the allegations and was later banned from the site for a time. , which Niemann also admitted last month.
The report, which relied on cheat detection tools including a comparison of a player’s moves with those recommended by powerful supercomputers, provided data-based evidence that radically contradicts Niemann’s claims that he only cheated twice. While the survey drew no conclusions regarding Niemann’s over-the-board games, it did point to the contests of six of his strongest in-person events, stating that they “deserved further investigation into the database”.
After Carlsen resigned from the Julius Baer Generation Cup online after a move, the pressure on him to provide a reason for his withdrawals increased. He eventually released a statement saying: “When Niemann was a last minute guest at the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I strongly considered pulling out before the event. I finally chose to play. I believe Niemann cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted. His excessive progress was unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I got the impression that he wasn’t uptight or even fully focused on playing in positions criticisms, while outdoing myself as black in a way that I only think a handful of players can do. This game helped change my perspective.
Chess.com, which is in the process of buying Carlsen’s Play Magnus app, backed Carlsen’s assessment of Niemann’s rapid rise in Fide’s world rankings – a gain of 350 Elo points in four years and a astonishing increase from 2,500 to 2,600 in just three months. – describing his rise as “statistically extraordinary”.
“Apart from his online play, Hans is the most rapidly advancing classical (over-the-board) chess player in modern history,” the report states. “Looking at the rankings alone, Hans should be ranked as a member of this group of top young players. While we have no doubt that Hans is a talented player, we note that his results are statistically extraordinary.
Fide, the world’s sports governing body, released a statement last week saying it would convene its own three-person panel to look into the allegations.