Hans Niemann, the biggest chess site, has reportedly cheated in more than 100 games following an investigation. | So Good News
In the eyes of the world’s best chess player, 19-year-old chess grandmaster Hans Niemann is a fraud. The world’s best chess site agrees.
A cheating investigation by Chess.com against Niemann found that the American had cheated in more than 100 games on the platform before being banned in 2020, according to the site’s report published on Tuesday.
Niemann has come under fire since world chess champion Magnus Carlsen accused him of cheating at the prestigious Sinquefield Cup table game last month, when Niemann defeated Carlsen despite the disadvantage of playing with black pieces. Niemann vehemently denied the allegations, but admitted to cheating on Chess.com twice — once when he was 12 and again when he was 16 — in non-prize games.
According to a Chess.com report, Niemann cheated more than twice in online matches with prize money. The site reportedly used a variety of cheating detection tools, including comparing Niemann’s moves to the moves offered by chess engines, which could easily beat the likes of Carlsen.
In a letter to Niemann from Chess.com’s chief chess officer, Danny Rensch, Rensch noted that Niemann’s suspicious moves coincided with when he opened another window on his computer, which checked his engine for the best move.
From the report:
“We’re ready to present strong statistical evidence for each of the above cases, as well as evidence that ‘switching’ and ‘non-switching’ work much better when you switch to another screen in your movements.”
In 2020, Niemann admitted to cheating on the phone with Rensch and banned the 17-year-old from the site.
Chess.com has a business relationship with Carlsen, as it is currently in the process of acquiring his Play Magnus app for nearly $83 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Niemann is under investigation by FIDE, the world chess body, into Carlsen’s allegations.
Where else did Hans Niemann cheat?
While the Chess.com report is mostly concerned with what Niemann did on his site, it also comments on the rise of the chess rankings in a statement in which Carlsen publicly accused Niemann of fraud.
Chess players are ranked according to the ELO system, where each win, loss, and draw changes a player’s rating slightly, with more points awarded to a higher ranked opponent. An ELO rating of 2500 is required to become a chess grandmaster, and elite players usually sit above 2700. Carlsen is currently ranked #1 at 2,856.
The rub with Niemann is that while no one has ever definitively proven that he cheated in off-board matches (Chess.com matches were all online), many believe that he has risen through the ranks too quickly over the past two years. so that he does not cheat.
The WSJ noted that Nieman hit 2,300 as a teenager in late 2015 or early 2016, and then needed more than two years to reach 2,400. It took two more years to reach 2,500, and in January 2021 he achieved grandmaster status.
In the past 18 months, Niemann has risen to 2,700. While 17 to 19 is typically too young for elite competition, Niemann’s rapid rise has come at an unusually old age. he told Chess.com that he focused on board games after the ban.
However, Chess.com found it questionable that Niemann’s growth from 11 to 19.25 surpassed the likes of Carlsen and Bobby Fischer.
From the report:
In addition to his online play, Hans is the fastest-rising Classic OTB chess player in modern history.
With each new generation of chess players, there is a small group that eventually emerge as great players. Some of the big names of the current generation are Alireza Firuzja, Vincent Keymer and Arjun Erigaisi. By rating alone, Hans should be included among the best young players in this group. While we have no doubt that Hans is a talented player, we note that his results are statistically exceptional.
There are also games where Niemann plays with perfect or near-perfect accuracy, which is often a sign of cheating. However, some reputable fraud analysts are less keen to present them as the smoking gun.
Again, it’s worth noting that there’s no concrete evidence of how Niemann cheats (no, it’s not anal beads). However, Chess.com refutes Niemann’s claim that he only cheated twice, removing any further doubt, and you wonder how it all ends for a player who accused Carlsen and Chess.com of trying to destroy his career.
Hans Niemann isn’t the only grandmaster to cheat on Chess.com
Almost ignored in the magazine report, this sentence makes you wonder how many more Hans Niemanns there are:
Chess.com’s online fraud detection system is well known. In our 15+ year history, it has been used to close the accounts of many non-professional online players, hundreds of title players, dozens of GMs. It admitted cheating of 100 top 4 FIDE players.
To quote Hans himself: “They [Chess.com] has the best fraud detection in the world.”
Chess.com’s pursuit of Niemann took extraordinary circumstances, but it seems there are a few other elite players who shouldn’t be throwing stones.