Oct 5, 2022 - Sports

Chess investigation finds Hans Niemann "likely cheated" 100-plus times

Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann

Magnus Carlsen (L) and Hans Niemann during their match at the Sinquefield Cup. Photo courtesy of Grand Chess Tour

A Chess.com investigation alleges that Hans Niemann, the American grandmaster at the center of a cheating scandal, likely cheated in over 100 online games, as recently as 2020.

The backdrop: When world champion Magnus Carlsen suggested Niemann was a cheater after losing to him at last month's Sinquefield Cup, Niemann admitted he'd cheated — but only twice online as a kid.

Details: The 72-page report states that Niemann privately confessed to the allegations in a phone call, and that he was banned from Chess.com for a period of time, per WSJ, which was first to review the report.

  • The site uses a variety of cheating-detection tools, including analytics that compare moves to those recommended by chess engines. They also monitor whether players open other browsers while playing.
  • Identifying cheating during in-person chess is far more difficult, and while Chess.com stopped short of claiming Niemann had done so, the report flags "unusual patterns" and calls for a further investigation.

Context: Chess.com is in the process of acquiring Carlsen's Play Magnus app for $82.9 million. That relationship could explain why the world champion was so confident Niemann was a serial cheater. Perhaps he already knew what was in this report.

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