Teenage US chess prodigy Hans Niemann has sternly rejected claims that he has been involved in a sophisticated and prolonged campaign of cheating throughout his career, after being accused of impropriety by both the world’s top player Magnus Carlsen and in a lengthy report published by Chess.com.
The growing scandal was ignited by Carlsen when he resigned from an online game with Niemann after making just one move, with the Norwegian later explaining in a statement he published to social media that he suspected the American player to be involved in cheating.
Niemann’s recent play, Carlsen alleged, suggested that he was received outside assistance given the dramatic leaps in ability which he says he observed in the 19-year-old’s performances.
Carlsen’s accusations appeared to be backed by a 72-page report published on Chess.com this week in which they also noted that some of Niemann’s performances seemed to match moves suggested by a computerized chess engine, and in which it was claimed that he cheated in more than 100 online games with some as recent as 2020.
He is also accused of cheating in games in which prize money was at stake.
Niemann has admitted to cheating on two occasions earlier in his career when he was aged 12 and 16.
However, shortly after defeating the 15-year-old Christopher Yoo in the first round of the US Chess Championship Niemann gave a brief interview in which he refuted the accusations made against him and vowed to stand his ground in the ongoing scandal.
“I think that this game is a message to everyone,” he said after defeating Yoo, who played with white pieces.
“This entire thing started with me saying chess speaks for itself, and I think that this game spoke for itself and showed the chess player that am. It also showed that I’m not going to back down and I’m going to play my best chess here regardless of the pressure that I’m under, and that’s all I have to say about this game. Chess speaks for itself, that’s all I can say.”
Niemann refused to elaborate further on his performance against Yoo.
“I’m sorry, that’s it,” he said when asked about his game. “You can leave it to your own interpretation, but thank you. That’s it. That’s all I’d like to say, because it was such a beautiful game I don’t even need to describe it.”
American grandmaster Hans Niemann’s first public remarks since yesterday’s bombshell report finding that he likely cheated in more than 100 online games, including ones with prize money involved: “Chess speaks for itself, that’s all I can say.” pic.twitter.com/PHD0PVAEBr
— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) October 6, 2022
The Chess.com investigation did not note any instances of fraud in Niemann’s over-the-board games, though it did state that his performances “merit further investigation based on the data” and noted what they called his “statistically extraordinary” improvements.
The focus is expected to return to Niemann when he takes on Jeffery Xiong in his next US Chess Championship game.
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