Breaking News: Hans Niemann is suing!

by ChessBase
10/20/2022 – The news broke out minutes ago. Hans Niemann posted on his Twitter the official complaint against Magnus Carlsen, the Play Magnus Group, Chess.com, Daniel Rensch, and Hikaru Nakamura. The complaint states that he is seeking "damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but no less than One Hundred Million Dollars ($100,000,000)". The text of the complaint does not mince words.

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It was a step many speculated might happen. Hans Niemann has filed a complaint in the United States District Court, in the Eastern District of Missouri. The complaint cites  Magnus Carlsen, the Play Magnus Group, Chess.com, LLC Daniel Rensch, and Hikaru Nakamura, seeking damages of no less than one hundred million dollars, with a jury trial demanded.

The full 44-page complaint can be read here.

Quoting very lightly the complaint, the text does not mince words:

Carlsen, having solidified his position as the “King of Chess,” believes that when it comes to chess, he can do whatever he wants and get away with it.

(...)

8. Notorious for his inability to cope with defeat, Carlsen snapped.  Enraged that the young Niemann, fully 12 years his junior, dared to disrespect the “King of Chess,” and fearful that the young prodigy would further blemish his multi-million dollar brand by beating him again, Carlsen viciously and maliciously retaliated against Niemann by falsely accusing Niemann, without any evidence, of somehow cheating during their in-person game and demanding that the organizers of the Sinquefield Cup immediately disqualify Niemann from the tournament.   

9. When tournament officials refused to comply with Carlsen’s corrupt and cowardly demand to baselessly eliminate Niemann from competition, Carlsen lashed out again, this time by boycotting the remainder of the Sinquefield Cup in protest—an unprecedented act for a top chess professional, let alone the reigning World Champion.

Hans Niemann is represented by Oved & Oved and Gartner Firm.

Needless to say, the Twitterverse is already exploding. USA Today Sports reporter Tom Shad already commented:

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Aighearach Aighearach 10/21/2022 06:49
In WildKid's example regarding Musk, the problem with suing him was that A) nobody would take it as a serious accusation, it was obviously an insult not an accusation, and B) the target of the insult did not stand to lose any money over it. It's all about the lost money.

One detail of American defamation law that a lot of people are missing is that if you accuse somebody using secret evidence, and it harms them financially, it actually doesn't matter if it is true. If you say, "I saw things that made me think he's cheating," and people take you seriously, so seriously that the person loses invitations to professional events where they expected to make money, then you're liable for their losses. That's the problem; they accused him through innuendo, instead of through factual accusations, so they have *more liability* than if they had just been honest and made their (weak) accusations.

Nakamura thought that if doesn't make a "direct accusation," he's safe. But this isn't a schoolroom where that sort of word-lawyering matters. If instead he'd just said directly what his real accusation was, completely, then if it is weak and people still believe it, he has less liability; a reasonable person wouldn't believe it if it was baseless. But to do it indirectly, a lot of otherwise-reasonable people have been saying things like, "where there's smoke there's fire." They think they're supporting the accusers when they say this stuff, but they're just showing that they damaged Hans' professional reputation in a way that he can't defend against.

He's not going to get $100m, because that's more than Carlsen makes. But he'll likely get 8 figures if they take this to court, because of the obviously-malicious nature of the statements made.

Non-Americans should note that "libel" is mostly irrelevant to the case. In American courts it is all about the *defamation*.
saturn23 saturn23 10/21/2022 06:48
WillScarlett -also, do you even read what people are saying here? I don't think anyone is defending Niemann. I certainly don't defend him. Niemann, a cheater in online chess, has been accused of things for which there's no evidence by some bullies with a lot of influence in the world of chess. We need to stand against bullies!

To give an example from your "world", George Floyd, a person convicted of eight crimes, was murdered by a coward police officer abusing his power. George Floyd was a criminal but that doesn't mean that he deserved to die. Niemann cheated online but that doesn't mean that he deserves to be bullied (accused of cheating in over the board chess among other things) by Carlsen, Nakamura and chess.com.
nielslau nielslau 10/21/2022 06:43
Quote from some earlier argument: "Carlsen made specific accusations". What exactly were these accusations? He stated that he "felt" that Hans N. was a cheater. Since this is based on previous evidence of a practise and denial of extent of cheating of playing on the internet, rather than solely in regard to the OTB game, then Carlsen is right to feel that way. He is also fully within his legal rights to withdraw from a chess tournament, and to resign a chess game he is playing. Please take a cool sober legal look, and realise that the American ways of lawsuits are for TV soap serials
arzi arzi 10/21/2022 06:39
All of this could have been avoided if Carlsen had just admitted: "I was upset when I lost the game to Niemann and I blurted out sentences without thinking. I'm sorry for my mistake." The end of the story and everything would have continued as before, and no one would have remembered it a year from now.

As adbennet said before, the lawyers win.

Now it ends with someone paying for spreading false and harmful information. Also giving punishments before the investigation starts takes on a correct order. Time itself gets also its proper order. The present returns to its place in the timeline after the past and the future is still unknown, the amount of entropy increases again. Universe is safe once again.
saturn23 saturn23 10/21/2022 06:00
WildKid - there's a huge difference between calling someone a pedophile and trying to destroy someone's career, without any evidence, just because you were b*tt-hurt that you lost against them in chess.
eastyz eastyz 10/21/2022 05:32
@WildKid, that sort of conduct would not be tolerated in many other countries. The US is a world of its own when it comes to what is supposedly free speech. Words matter. They can do a lot of damage like ruining careers and even starting wars.
eastyz eastyz 10/21/2022 05:29
Hans has at least ensured that he will continue to have a following in his streaming. Magnus should at least learn not to take self help measures on suspicion alone.
WildKid WildKid 10/21/2022 05:28
Two examples of just how high the bar for a successful libel suit is in the US. Elon Musk falsely claimed, without any evidence at all, that one of the heroes of the Thai cave rescue was a pedophile. His defense? It wasn't malice, he simply enjoyed insulting people on Twitter. Tucker Carlsen defamed someone outrageously and falsely on his TV program. His defense? It wasn't malice, he did it in a quest for ratings. Both plaintiffs lost.
fartpants fartpants 10/21/2022 05:12
Nakamura doesn't have too much to worry about, and chess.com did at least back up what it said with evidence and moderated its language. Besides there are jurisdiction issues with the Missouri court, he'd probably have to sue chess.com in California. My prediction is the Missouri court will throw out all the cases except the one against Carlsen, citing jurisdiction issues. It's unlikely that any court will buy the Carlsen/chess.com conspiracy angle, but his case against Carlsen looks quite strong on the face of it. Waiting for AttorneyTom to make a vid of it on youtube.
flachspieler flachspieler 10/21/2022 05:08
Niemann mentioned two cases where he lost opportunities:
* No more negotiations for participation in the Tata Steel tournament in January 2023
* Vincent Keymer stopped negotiations for a show match against Niemann in Germany
Both stops of negotiations happened after Carlsen's boycott actions.
WildKid WildKid 10/21/2022 04:51
I'm sympathetic to Niemann and believe that in most countries he would have a good case. Unfortunately in America, if the plaintiff is a 'public figure' (which Niemann plausibly is), he/she needs to prove actual malice, which is a very high bar (much higher than 'merely' negligence or irresponsibility). I suspect that Carlsen's ego was hurt by the defeat against Niemann, so he lashed out. That's not responsible or adult behavior, but unfortunately I'm not sure it rises to the standard of actual malice. Even more so for the other defendants.
CarlosCleto CarlosCleto 10/21/2022 03:58
@Everden, Granted, nothing is so good to the plaintiffs as the England/Wales Courts.

But, even in the USA, the plaintiff only needs to prove the existence of the slandering words, and the obnoxious effects of that words for his person and business. The burden to prove the truth of the slandering words remains with the author.

Think: "A" said "B" is a drug dealer. Obviously, "B" can't prove that never sold drugs... It's an impossible proof. So, "A" needs to prove the veracity of his words.

If you aren't a lawyer, think about Depp v. Heard: Johnny can't prove he never beats Amber. But Amber needs to prove Depp beat her !
Science22 Science22 10/21/2022 03:46
@ChessTalk : It is some very wise observations you make.

If Niemann is sure that it cannot be proven that he has cheated over - the - board, then he should of course wait for the FIDE report. It will then strengthen his case. If, on the other hand, he fears the FIDE report, a summons can preempt it.

In any case, FIDE is forced to do a very thorough job. They have to ask a number of experts in statistics and programming if hypotheses can be set up that can be the subject of a study that can say something statistically significant. How likely are these results if the person has not cheated?

Many with a background in statistics have, like me, out of curiosity investigated Niemann's results when he plays in tournaments without live transmission and when he plays in tournaments with live transmission. Is there a statistically significant difference in his performance? Yes, I think you can conclude that.

Others have directly published results such as Atlanta King:
https://twitter.com/atl_kings/status/1568656197812891653

In tournaments without live transmission he consistently lost rating and with live transmisison he consistently won rating 2019 - 2020. You can calculate the probability for this given the number of games, but I will spare Niemann's street gang here, it will be too great an intellectual challenge to understand.

It is naturally funnier to think that CarloCleto's allegedly brilliant lawyers have to find a defense for their client who proves that it is not statistical significant he has cheated. . This must be done on the basis of a serious understanding of statistics. It will be amusing to follow this part of the soap opera.
saturn23 saturn23 10/21/2022 03:22
ChessTalk - if you read the document you will see that Niemann claims that the chess.com report is not accurate. Niemann still claims that he never cheated in prize tournaments or while streaming. So from what I understand he still claims that he "only" cheated twice, when he was 12 and when he was 16 (and by twice I believe he meant two periods of time, not two moves or two games).

And like others have already pointed out, it doesn't matter how much Niemann cheated online. Carlsen made specific accusations, without any evidence, about cheating in over the board tournaments. Now it's time to show the evidence or support the consequences.
Leavenfish Leavenfish 10/21/2022 03:01
@saturn23 - Because Will 'lives for that stuff'. Digesting too much right-wing clap trap I presume.

Chess.com and Naka I think have little to lose compared to Magnus. He has only himself to blame for the 'scapegoating' (I believe that is the phrase David Smeardon used) of Hans for the sins the cheaters in the chess world. One of whom Magnus played OTB just a couple of weeks ago...did anyone notice?

Team Hans will probably 'let him off' with a nice signed check with a BUNCH of zeros in it and an apology in the end.
ChessTalk ChessTalk 10/21/2022 02:57
"Whatever the truth is about Hans' online activity, it is totally irrelevant to what happened in St. Louis and the accusation that came out of that. "

In noncriminal cases as would be this Hans suit, everything is relevant. It's mostly about preponderance of evidence and I'm afraid chess is a game played for blood at the tender age of younger than 16. Add to that money prizes played at12, 16 or 17 years of age, and guess what, a jury will hear it.
Ajeeb007 Ajeeb007 10/21/2022 02:25
Best of luck to Niemann in his suit against the Carlsen-Chess.com combo. Whatever the truth is about Hans' online activity, it is totally irrelevant to what happened in St. Louis and the accusation that came out of that. It'll be interesting to see if Carlsen can prove what he has claimed.
tauno tauno 10/21/2022 02:13
In any case, Niemann cannot be blamed for lack of evidence. :-)
ChessTalk ChessTalk 10/21/2022 02:08
Don't think Hans can win this case. He's already admitted to cheating and when his mea culpa came up he underreported the extent of his cheating by not mentioning the money games and the actually number of times he cheated. As far as chess.com disclosure policies, Hans already talked about his cheating so they can actually say anything about the issue as long as it's pertinent. I think Naka is totally okay unless it can be shown he colluded with Magnus and Chess.com prior to the magnus withdrawal of Sinquefield. Naka simply did what every one does, speculate about the actions of the WC without the full information around. Ofc, it's here that Hans has a case, since nobody but Chess.com knew about the cheating at that point. That Hans did so well in the US Open, that it will help legitimize his chess strength since there is no real OTB cheating evidence that we have been privy too. Hans is a solid 2700 player and that is good enough to beat Magnus on a bad day. Happens all the time--Aronian has said magnus is beatable and lots have beaten him. I think it's interesting that Hans is bringing the suit prior to the FIDE report. Courts are not very fast acting. Even Fide will have it's report out sooner than a court case gets heard. Hans' team must know this. If they know he didn't cheat, they would appear to have a chance. If they know he cheated, they would want to rush the case.
Science22 Science22 10/21/2022 02:07
@Everden : What a clever comment.

But you must always remember that you are not in the civilized UK. Just read the comments here from the Niemann thugs. They firmly believe that they can scare the Vikings into paying for their mischief!

The last Carlos who visited Denmark was not a lawyer but a terrorist. So we're a bit sensitive about that name. It's probably better that we come to the US...
wnino01 wnino01 10/21/2022 02:02
It depends in part where PlayMagnus Group is incorporated do not believe is in the US but Nakamura for sure will have to face this as well as chess.com
His reputation and career were greatly affected by this OTB thing without any proof at all; pretty sure lawyers look at this before suing
NDMrB NDMrB 10/21/2022 01:56
90% chance this legal filing (it is not a court case yet) will get thrown out for one of several reasons... no merit, lack of standing, no proof of damages (since he continued playing tournaments after he claims he was "blacklisted")
8% chance this gets "settled" for LESS than $50K (and collection of that may be difficult)
1% or less chance this actually gets before a judge.
Daniel Miller Daniel Miller 10/21/2022 01:54
The big winner from this suit is Irina Krush when the story of her failing to win a chess game, when she is handed not just a whole piece, but Black's best piece for free and Irina still had 4 minutes to win the game, will be drowned out of media coverage by this story.
Science22 Science22 10/21/2022 01:51
@CarlosCleto : Sorry , you have misunderstand the situation.

The world champion is from Scandinavia. We dont pay a nickle to con men from USA.

I am also well aware that 50.000 Americans got shot last year ( its called protection by guns !) , so settling off -court is far too dangerous. It is more safe to stay inside the court room. See you.
Everden Everden 10/21/2022 01:50
@CarlosCleto Unlike you, I'm not a lawyer and I suspect I'm missing some nuance, so please excuse my ignorance, but I was under the impression that in American courts, the burden of proof rests on the person who brings a claim of libel, which seems to be the opposite of what you're saying. In British courts, by contrast, the burden of proof rests on the author of the libel, who has to prove that what he/she said is true. It is this distinction that underpins the issue of so-called 'libel tourism', whereby claimants are more likely to bring claims in a country where they stand a better chance of winning, which is very often the UK. Have I misunderstood this?
Science22 Science22 10/21/2022 01:42
Dear reader outside the US :

Try to imagine that an American citizen like Niemann was subpoenaed by a citizen of another nation. What would happen ? Of course , the American legal system would step in and say that Americans cannot be extradited to a trial outside the United States !

It is this basic lack of balance and decency that causes types like Niemann to arise. They think USA protect them no matter what.
Science22 Science22 10/21/2022 01:30
Hans Niemann is just a sweet teenager from the USA who has been treated badly by a vicious viking from Norway ? Try again. Let me remind you :

"Bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by hostile intent, imbalance of power and repetition over a period of time. Bullying is the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally or emotionally."

That is the very definition of Niemann.

His complete lack of respect for other people, the constant way he belittles other chess players, taunts them, and trashes them. There are countless videos with that, and also some that Niemann will only get to see in court. If I were to read out the names of the chess players who feel unpleasantly treated by him, it would take a week.

In a video here on chessbase.com he is completely inflamed with anger, he can hardly control himself. Because Chess.com has published his massive scam, and it was the agreement that they shouldn't do that.

Before that he sits and stares directly into the camera and tells us that the last time he cheated was at the age of 16. Then it is published that it was a lie, and he doesn't care. It is the publication he is angry about ! It is a behaviour one can only observe if the person has a dyssocial personality structure that makes it impossible to feel any kind of conscience. Victims and culprit changes place.

Finally, please spare us for the idiotic argument that because others have scams, it's ok with Niemann.
CarlosCleto CarlosCleto 10/21/2022 01:11
Well now I have our chess version of Depp v. Heard.

As a lawyer, my guess: settling off-court by undisclosed sum. Carlsen can't afford the risks of a Trial by Jury in a libel case, where the burden of proofing the libeling words goes to the defendants.

And Niemann took no chances in choosing his lawyer: "Darren Oved is an American attorney. He is known as a co-founder and partner of the law firm Oved & Oved, LLP. An experienced trial attorney and commercial litigator, Oved has represented several notable people, including Cat Cora, Alex Sapir (son of Tamir Sapir), Tiësto and Rebecca Minkoff, Zinedine Zidane, Christian Vieri, Paolo Maldini and Andriy Shevchenko."
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/21/2022 12:23
Niemann is a very expensive teacher. He has beaten Carlsen twice and now Carlsen has to pay for the lesson. Will he learn from it?

Some people think he is a cheater. But, in fact, he is a teacher. The same letters in a different order. Carlsen is learning the difference in the hard way.

Jokes aside: if he is a cheater, then he must be punished. But not before the investigation. So, mister Carlsen can present his proof. If he has any. And no, I do not mean his video footage where he accepted Howell's help.
Matthias Ruf Matthias Ruf 10/21/2022 12:19
Reminds me of Poker Star Mike Postle who filled a lawsuit to get $330M because of defamation from other players. In the end the cheater got bankrupt. Beforehand he knew the cards of his opponents through a hidden smartphone. He had also a strange personality spreading a lot of lies. Some people who deceive think they get right by shouting loudly.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/21/2022 12:14
@saturn23 - Don't pay attention to anything science22 is spewing. He is likely the president of the Magnus Carlsen fanclub LOL. People like Magnus (and all of his fans) were doubling down and bluffing....well, Hans called and now they're going to court to settle it. If this were a game of chess, Hans definitely has the winning advantage right now.
fixpont fixpont 10/21/2022 12:14
he is right, he was destroyed without any evidence he cheated on the board against MC in the Sinquefield Cup and after that (also with zero evidence) he was insinuated as a cheater, this has to stop, this is the definition of defamation, unfunded accusation of cheating should be treated and punished as seriously as cheating itself
Science22 Science22 10/21/2022 12:10
To everyone who is sick and tired of con men from USA who think the whole world should dance around their courtrooms and money demands :

Lets set up a website with the name: Support a subpoena of Hans Niemann. All the millions of honest chess players who have been passive hostages in Niemann's attack on their right to play chess without being cheated online, face to face or on the beach can register here.

Then I will summon Niemann here in Denmark. However, we are not that interested in money. It's more the morals the nation look at. You cannot sue people for large sums of money, and many are acquitted because the court deems them too retarded to understand the extent of their fraud. That may very well be the case here.

@saturn23 : I have seen your hundreds of hateful comments here when people are critical towards Niemann. Zero content. So let me quote a wise guy here :

"The majority of the damage Niemann has suffered is self-inflicted. No sympathy for cheaters, least of all repeat offenders. "
Graham Banks Graham Banks 10/21/2022 12:04
Although Niemann has cheated in online play, in my opinion, there is no concrete evidence of cheating in OTB play.
AidanMonaghan AidanMonaghan 10/20/2022 11:59
Carlsen Should Have Known Better

And certainly his legal counsel. Weakly supported, high profile misconduct allegations come with risks, especially for those with larger bottom lines.

Carlsen withdrew from the Championship cycle due to the rigorous preparation time commitments. His reduced chess workload energies can now be devoted less to openings and more to opening statements.
saturn23 saturn23 10/20/2022 11:54
Science22 - you do realize that no one is going to take you seriously on this website after you kept spreading false information.

How did Niemann attempted to destroy chess? This is ridiculous.
Thousands of players have cheated on chess.com, including many grandmasters. How did "a number of chess players lose the opportunity to win prizes" because of Niemann?
How do you know that the FIDE report is going to be devastating for Niemann? Do you have inside information?
In the US championship the security measures were very good and Niemann still performed according to his rating.
NoSystem NoSystem 10/20/2022 11:50
The majority of the damage Niemann has suffered is self-inflicted. No sympathy for cheaters, least of all repeat offenders.
Science22 Science22 10/20/2022 11:29
I am sitting here with an email Hans Niemann wrote to chess.com ( 72 page report) when he was exposed in cheating big time online. It says that he is well aware that he has cheated, but it was only to test whether the security systems worked. Now that he has established that they work, he would like to be left alone, because he is a highly respected chess player and has no time for this.

As a result of his fraud, a number of chess players lost the opportunity to win prizes. He is an ice cold con man.

I think FIDE should sue him for 200 million US for the attempt to destroy chess as a Noble sport.

Niemann knows its game over, the security systems will be updated, and demands for unannounced visits before during and after a tournament will destroy the possibility of safely receiving help to play. No sponsor wants to see this disgusting type in an international chess tournament without extreme security measures.

He also know the FIDE rapport will be devastating.

So he is now playing the last card, in good old American Lance Armstrong style. Sue everybody who tell I am a con man. Then I cash in 50 mio. US for later telling Oprah I am indeed a con man...
Masquer Masquer 10/20/2022 11:26
It is possible to analyze post-mortem below the level of one's playing strength. Back when I used to play slow OTB chess I would often win or draw a game but lose the post-mortem, because I was not a good quick analyst, although I was rated well over 2000.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/20/2022 11:12
@lagrigorescu - you are missing the point. It doesn't matter if Hans is a patzer or a grandmaster. The fact is there is defamation involved when someone (Magnus) in his fit of sour grapes rage carelessly slanders Hans on social media. It matters not how well or poorly Hans is at chess, that's all completely irrelevant.

@saturn23 - you hit the nail on the head, this is all about the toxic nature of the bullies in chess wrecklessly slandering others without proof. These bullies deserve to be punished.