The teenage chess player at the center of an alleged cheating scandal has launched a $ 100 million (£ 89 million) libel suit against world champion and online platform Chess.com.
Hans Niemann, 19, was charged with widespread fraud following an investigation on Chess.com, which found he was “probably” cheated in over 100 online games.
It came after beating 31-year-old world champion Magnus Carlsen – considered the greatest player of all time – sending shockwaves across the chess world.
Chess.com, which banned Niemann, is the most popular chess platform in the world and used tools for detecting and analyzing a player’s moves than those recommended by computers to put together his report.
The investigation found no evidence of Niemann’s face-to-face cheating against Carlsen or in other face-to-face games.
But he hinted at a widespread scam online.
Niemann breaks the silence, saying he “won’t back down”
The lawsuit, filed in a court in Missouri, USA, also lists Carlsen Play Magnus’ online chess platform, Chess.com executive Danny Rensch, and American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura as defendants.
Niemann said the defendants are “colluding to blacklist him” from the professional chess world and that he has been shunned by tournament organizers since five-time world champion Carlsen publicly accused him of cheating.
Carlsen’s surprise defeat to Niemann and his subsequent retirement from the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, Missouri in September sparked a furor of comments and accusations, including Nakamura, that the American had cheated.
Weeks after the Sinquefield Cup, the Norwegian resigned after only one move against Niemann in an online tournament.
In a statement Thursday, Chess.com lawyers said there was no merit in Niemann’s allegations and the company was saddened by his decision to take legal action.
“Chess.com is looking forward to setting the record straight on behalf of his team and all honest chess players.”
Representatives from Carlsen and Nakamura did not respond to requests for comment.
Famous fraud scandals that rocked the sport
Niemann had previously been banned from Chess.com for cheating online, having admitted he did not play fair games on the website in his youth, but denied any wrongdoing when disputing over-the-board games.
His lawsuit alleged that Chess.com “banned Niemann from its website and all future events, to give credit to Carlsen’s baseless and defamatory allegations of cheating.”
“Carlsen, having solidified his position as ‘Chess King’, believes that when it comes to chess, he can do whatever he wants and get away with it,” the complaint added.
The lawsuit also accused Nakamura, a Chess.com streaming partner, of posting “hours of video content that amplifies and attempts to reinforce Carlsen’s false allegations of fraud.”
The International Chess Federation said last month that it would open an investigation into allegations of fraud.