U.S. chess grandmaster ‘doubtless cheated’ in additional than 100 on-line video games, investigation finds

A 19-year-old U.S. chess grandmaster “doubtless cheated” in additional than 100 on-line video games, together with a number of prize cash occasions, in response to an investigation by a web based platform the place many prime gamers compete.

Chess.com launched the 72-page report Tuesday, one month after the world’s top-rated chess participant withdrew from a event after the grandmaster, Hans Niemann, defeated him.

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen, 31, bowed out of the occasion after describing the youthful participant’s progress as “uncommon” and suggesting that he wasn’t “totally concentrating on the sport” when Niemann defeated him on Sept. 4 on the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis.

Tuesday’s report mentioned that whereas there have been “many exceptional alerts and weird patterns” in Niemann’s play, there was no proof he cheated within the match in opposition to Carlsen and no “direct proof” that proves he cheated in different over-the-board, or in-person, video games previously. 

However the report concluded that Niemann doubtless cheated in additional than 100 on-line video games, saying that whereas his efficiency in a few of the matches “could appear to be inside the realm of some statistical chance, the likelihood of any single participant performing this nicely throughout this many video games is extremely low.”

‘I am not going to again down’

Niemann didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from NBC Information. 

After defeating Christopher Yoo within the first spherical of the U.S. championship in St. Louis, Niemann was requested Wednesday to deal with the “elephant within the room” throughout a post-game interview with the Saint Louis Chess Membership.

“This sport is a message to everybody,” he mentioned in his first public feedback because the launch of the Chess.com report. “This whole factor began with me saying ‘chess speaks for itself’ and I believe this sport spoke for itself and confirmed the chess participant that I’m.”

Niemann mentioned the sport “additionally confirmed I’m not going to again down and I’m going to play my greatest chess right here whatever the strain that I’m underneath and that is all I’ve to say about this sport. And you realize, ‘chess speaks for itself.’ That is all I can say.”

When the interviewer tried to ask one other query, Niemann interrupted him.

“I’m sorry, that’s it,” he mentioned. “You possibly can depart it to your personal interpretation, however thanks. That’s it. That’s all I’d wish to say, as a result of it was such a fantastic sport I don’t even want to explain it.”

Niemann has acknowledged dishonest previously

Chess.com’s findings had been first reported by the Wall Avenue Journal.

The positioning’s cheat detection system tracks participant efficiency and time utilization, and it compares strikes made by a participant to strikes a chess engine would make, amongst different issues, the report says.

The day after the match in opposition to Carlsen, the location notified Niemann that his invitation to the Chess.com World Championship had been revoked, as had his entry to the location, in response to the report. 

The report mentioned the choice was made “primarily based on our expertise with him previously, rising suspicions amongst prime gamers and our group about his fast rise of play, the unusual circumstances and explanations of his win over Magnus, in addition to Magnus’ unprecedented withdrawal.”

In an interview final month with the Saint Louis Chess Membership, Niemann acknowledged dishonest in a web based event when he was 12 and through an unrated sport when he was 16 that he described as an “completely ridiculous mistake.”

“After that, aside from after I was 12, I’ve by no means, ever in my life cheated in an over-the-board sport, in a web based event,” he mentioned. “I’m saying my fact as a result of I don’t want any misrepresentation. I’m happy with myself that I discovered from that mistake.”

“Now I’ve given every thing to chess,” he added. 

Final week, the Worldwide Chess Federation mentioned its Honest Play Fee had fashioned a panel to research Carlsen’s claims that Niemann had cheated, and Niemann’s personal assertion about on-line dishonest.

Hans Niemann through the sixth spherical of the Sinquefield Cup.@GrandChessTour through Twitter

A previous ban

The Chess.com report factors out that the location banned Niemann two years in the past after it suspected him of dishonest in occasions and matches. In a cellphone name with the location’s chief chess officer, Niemann allegedly confessed to dishonest and introduced to his followers on the streaming platform Twitch that he was closing his account. 

In screenshots of messages from November 2020 included within the report, Niemann seems to ask the official, Danny Rensch, if he might make an exception to the ban and permit him to play within the upcoming U.S. Chess Qualifiers.

Rensch declines, saying that the location can’t danger him taking part in such a high-profile occasion. He could be allowed to return to enjoying sure video games in January 2021, Rensch says, in response to the screenshot.

“That is greater than fully truthful and I actually actually admire you trusting me and giving me this opportunity,” Niemann seems to say within the messages. “I additionally agree and don’t suppose I ought to play.”

In final month’s Saint Louis Chess Membership interview, Niemann mentioned he was grateful to Rensch for dealing with the prior ban privately and giving him an opportunity to redeem himself. However he mentioned Chess.com is now leaping on Carlsen’s insinuations after their match.

“I imagine that that is fully unfair, it is a focused assault, and for those who take a look at my video games, it has nothing to do with my video games,” he mentioned within the interview. “They’ve solely performed this due to what Magnus has mentioned.”

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