According to Chess.com, grandmaster Hans Niemann, 19, has cheated in over 100 games. Runninggrojkarnka Pongkiat hidden caption /EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm
switch to caption Runninggrojkarnka Pongkiat
at /EyeEm/Getty Images Grandmaster Hans Niemann, who is 19 years old, is accused of cheating in more than 100 games, according to chess.com.
EyeEm / Pongkiat Rungrojkarnka / Getty Images When Chess.com revealed that it thinks Hans Niemann, a 19-year-old grandmaster, cheated in more than 100 games, the trickle of information about the cheating scandal rocking elite chess became a deluge Tuesday night.
The report that runs to 72 pages provided with supporting materials like email correspondence is causing a new jolt throughout the chess community. It’s increasing interest in the U.S. Chess Championships, where Niemann and 13 other players are contending for the title, which start on Wednesday in St. Louis.
There are $250,000 in prizes up for grabs in the event, which is live-streaming games on YouTube and Twitch. The play will last for the following two weeks and start each day at 2 p.m. ET. Niemann will compete against 15-year-old Christopher Woojin Yoo in his opening match.
Niemann and the tournament directors did not respond to requests for comment from NPR on Wednesday.
It’s the most recent development in a scandal that has engulfed the chess community and beyond since world champion Magnus Carlsen unexpectedly left a tournament after losing to Niemann and suggested foul play a month ago. Two weeks later, Carlsen chose not to play Niemann again and forfeited the game after one move, accusing him of cheating.
NIEMANN, IN SPITE OF SUSPICIONS, WILL PLAY FOR THE US TITLE Niemann should be permitted to compete in the live U.S. Chess Championships despite the website’s damning assessment, claims Ken Regan, an expert on chess cheating and professor of computer science and engineering at the University at Buffalo.
According to Regan, “Cross-jurisdiction issues between online chess and live chess have not been overcome.”
Niemann is still in good standing with the three relevant organizations supporting the championship tournament, including the U.S. Chess Federation, FIDE, and the St. Louis Chess Club, which is organizing the event.
Regan is cited in the Chess.com report as an impartial expert who concurs with its findings that Niemann committed fraud in various cash-prize online competitions in 2015 and 2017 as well as in “numerous matches versus other professional players in 2020.”
Cheating at chess frequently entails discreetly using a chess engine, a computer software, to obtain move suggestions.
The report notes that there is “a lack of concrete statistical evidence” that Niemann has cheated in any in-person or “over-the-board” (OTB) games, despite the fact that the Chess.com findings implicate Niemann’s play in online games.
To learn “how Hans became the fastest emerging top player in Classical OTB chess in modern documented history considerably later in life than his peers,” the paper says more research is required. Additionally, it mentions how Niemann’s ranking increased after the website secretly suspended him in 2020 after presenting him with proof of his misconduct.
NIEMANN’S COMMENTS ON CHEATING On September 6, Niemann publicly admitted admitted to cheating but argued that he had only done it when he was 12 and 16 years old. In the first incident, he was “only a child,” according to Niemann. The second was described by him as “an utterly terrible error.”
Niemann claimed he had never cheated in a tournament with prize money prior to when he was 12 years old. He claimed it was “the worst thing I could possibly do.”
Niemann added that while streaming games, he had not engaged in cheating (many top players run lucrative video accounts on Twitch and other services).
The report contradicts what Niemann has said. However, the latest Chess.com study claims, “Hans has probably cheated in more than 100 online chess matches, several of which included prize money. He probably cheated in several of these contests and games when he was already 17 years old. In 25 of these games, he was also live broadcasting.”
That is significantly more than the few games that were ostensibly mentioned in 2020, when the website first temporarily suspended Niemann for six months. The article claims that after Niemann’s 2020 suspension, other players and the Chess.com staff continued to harbor reservations about him as his rating rose and he became more likely to play in high-profile tournaments with sizable prize pools.
Chess.com claims that after carefully examining Niemann’s career, its anti-cheating algorithm discovered a number of issues. The system can “identify patterns of influence from engines that amount to a certainty that we can stand behind,” according to the claim.
Regan described Chess.com’s anti-cheating procedures as a “multifaceted” approach that incorporates data obtained through the website’s user interface when questioned about his opinion of it.
Regan stated, “In general I have no disagreement with their approaches; mine may be sharper in the vein where we intersect,” even though he hasn’t attempted to independently replicate every one of the findings on the site.
THE CASE HAS SHARPLY LIT THE CHEATING IN CHESS, SAYS Emil Sutovsky, Director-General of the International Chess Federation, recently said . “We need a social contract, understanding that cheating, in particular online, will often remain in the gray zone,” he says.
Regan replied, “In online chess, multiple other elite players have been sanctioned, even aside from Chess.com and what they mention in the report,” when asked how common cheating is at the elite level.
He continued, “I do not know of any over-the-board instance with someone ranked 2700 or above, i.e. top 50-60” in the world that was important with regard to in-person cheating.