A chess prodigy who launched a $100m (£89m) lawsuit against a grandmaster and the world’s largest online chess platform after being accused of cheating has had his case dismissed.
Hans Niemann, 20, stunned the world of chess when he beat five time world champion Magnus Carlsen – considered by some as the greatest player of all time – in September last year.
But what followed was even more explosive – Carlsen accused his opponent of cheating.
An investigation by Chess.com later claimed it was “likely” Niemann cheated in more than 100 online games, including in several prize money events.
The American chess prodigy denied cheating and launched a lawsuit accusing Chess.com and several prominent chess figures, including Carlsen, of conspiring to defame and blacklist him.
On Tuesday, a federal court in Missouri dismissed the case.
US District Court Judge Audrey Fleissig rejected Niemann’s claims that Carlsen and Chess.com broke antitrust laws by colluding to exclude him from lucrative tournaments.
Judge Fleissig also found she did not have jurisdiction over Niemann’s state law claims for defamation and breach of contract.
Lawyers for Niemann said in a statement that the decision had “absolutely no impact” on his ability to pursue his defamation claims in state court.
Chess.com co-founder, Erik Allebest, and the company’s Chief Chess Officer, Daniel Rensech, said in a joint statement that they were “glad to see this ruling”.
“We obviously thought it was a meritless lawsuit that burned a ton of time and money, but we have a stewardship to protect the game,” the pair said in their statement.
A lawyer for Carlsen also told Chess.com that he was “pleased” that the court had dismissed the case.
The row began after Niemann defeated Carlsen in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in Missouri in September last year, a win which ended the Norwegian’s 53-game unbeaten run.
After losing the game, Carlsen shared a post on Twitter which referenced a famous quote by football manager Jose Mourinho, in which he said: “I prefer, really, not to speak. If I speak, I am in big trouble.”
Carlsen later resigned from an online match against Niemann after making just one move – and then accused his opponent of cheating.
Chess.com, the world’s most popular chess platform, used detection tools and analysis of a player’s moves against those recommended by computers to put together a report into Niemann.
The 72-page report by Chess.com said there was a “lack of concrete statistical evidence” that Niemann had cheated against Carlsen or any other “over-the-board” or in-person games.
However, it alleged Niemann had “likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games” as recently as 2020 – including “several prize money events”.
Niemann, who previously admitted to cheating in non-competitive games as a child, denied the allegations, and said he never cheated more than he admitted to, or in any games over the board.
He also claimed that he had lost out on millions of dollars in potential winnings after being allegedly blacklisted from major tournaments.