Carlsen about Niemann's lawsuit: "I focus on chess"

by André Schulz
10/26/2022 – The Fischer Random World Championship, which started yesterday in Reykjavik, is overshadowed by the Niemann lawsuit, in which Niemann sued Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Daniel Rensch, and the Play Magnus Group for 100 million USD. Carlsen and Nakamura are playing in the World Championship, but did not want to comment on the lawsuit. However, the Icelandic Grandmaster Hjörvar Gretarsson, who is a lawyer by profession and who also takes part in the Championship, commented the lawsuit and a game he had played against Niemann. | Photo: David Llada

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When Magnus Carlsen landed in Reykjavik on Monday to compete in the second official Fischer Random World Championship, journalists from the Norwegian TV station NRK asked him about Hans Niemann's lawsuit.

"I still focus on chess," Carlsen said, "And that won't be used as an excuse, no matter how things go."

Hikaru Nakamura was also asked about the lawsuit by NRK journalists, but would not comment. "I can't comment on an ongoing case, sorry," Nakamura only said.

The controversy surrounding Hans Niemann has made waves, is occupying the chess world and has been fuelled once again by Niemann's lawsuit.

At the Sinquefield Cup in September Carlsen had left the tournament after his loss against Niemann in round three. The World Champion made no official statement but a tweet by Carlsen fuelled speculation that Niemann might have cheated at the Sinquefield Cup.

At the Sinquefield Cup the winner is obliged to give an interview after the game and in his interviews after the first games Niemann had seemed confused and had given the impression that he had not understood his own games properly.

In the interview after his fifth-round draw against Leinier Dominguez Niemann also admitted that he had cheated in online games when he was twelve and sixteen.

A few days after the Sinquefield Cup Carlsen and Niemann met again in the Julius Bär Generation Cup, a Play Magnus Group online tournament. Carlsen refused to play against Niemann and resigned after one 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4. After the tournament he made a statement, in which he claimed that Niemann had been cheating in online games more often than Niemann had admitted. Carlsen also brought up the name of Max Dlugy, a US grandmaster and coach. then published a long statement with many statistics that showed that Niemann had indeed cheated in over 100 online games, including games played in money tournaments. The document also included statistics that indicated that Niemann's development and his successes in over-the-board play are also unusual.

In October, after the end of the US Championships, in which Niemann took part, Niemann sued Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, CEO Daniel Rensch and the companies and Play Magnus Group for slander, libel, an unlawful boycott and tortious interference with Niemann’s business for at least USD 100 million.

Magnus Carlsen's lawyer Craig Reiser, who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, said about Niemann's accusations: "Hans Niemann has an admitted history of cheating and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to deflect blame onto others. His legal claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them.”

The Icelandic Grandmaster Hjörvar Gretarsson, who is a lawyer by profession, plays in the Fischer Random World Championship as a representative of the organiser and he described Niemann's lawsuit to NRK as "stupid": "This high demand makes no sense. It is typical of lawyers in the USA that they like to call for large sums of money. Niemann wants compensation, which makes sense. But it makes no sense that he claims to have lost 100 million USD," Gretarsson told NRK.

Gretarsson does not believe Niemann can win the case, but says: "It will be interesting. I hope it will be resolved soon."

Interestingly, at the Reykjavik Open 2022 in April, Gretarsson had played against Niemann in round 5 and lost a game, in which Niemann apparently made no mistakes.


"I had the same feeling as Carlsen. I thought he was unfocused and opened the position. When it got complicated, he also played fast. At first I thought he was extremely talented. But I thought of cheating when I looked at the game afterwards. But I still assumed he hadn't cheated because I had no proof. For a lawyer, it's not fair to accuse someone of cheating without evidence."

There will be special security measures at the Fischer Random World Championship. The games will be broadcast live on Norwegian television, but the signal will be sent with a delay.

"It's crazy," said Wesley So, who is playing in the Fischer Random World Championship as the defending champion. "We all know each other very well here. Cheating comes with a high risk. Because then your reputation is ruined and your career is over. Niemann has just turned 19, nobody knew him before. Carlsen saw at the Sinquefield Cup that something was wrong and withdrew from the tournament. I have a lot of respect for that."

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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Jacob woge Jacob woge 10/29/2022 09:17
“ Why did GM Short find that there was nothing untoward about Niemann looking at a transposition from a previous Carlsen game? Besides that, there was a 2nd Carlsen game that was also a transposition from a different position. So there were 2 ways to transpose”

The Short blitz game reference (Carlsen-So) is not a transposition. You may find the game score in a previous post. It appears no-one else has even bothered to go look, seemingly preferring rumours.

So now, a second Carlsen game is rumoured. No indication of opponent. If the similarity to the C-N game in question is as frail as the first one, rumour it stays. Only a reference can tell.
shivasundar shivasundar 10/29/2022 02:13
Also @Science22, "The rules for good behavior at chess tournaments are ultimately determined by the community. Not by crooked American lawyers with greed in their eyes. " This is extraordinarily ignorant. I am with FIDE here. FIDE's rules are *extremely stringent* - you have to participate in a classical OTB tournament to know. Examples:
1. Wesley So was forfeited because he wrote something down on the scoresheet to 'cheer himself up'! (Believe he wrote 'God save me' or some such thing.)
2. Adhiban was forfeited because he wore an analog watch (no foul-play detected).
[In fact, I think they are *so strict, that they are draconian!* (I have more examples) - something I have advocated to change - they appear like the Stalin-era USSR of old!!]

@Magic_Knight, Science22 does not know what he is talking about; FIDE's EDC has specific parameters to decide cheating cases. They have very strict statistical thresholds (believe I read something like 1 in 100,000 chance - for statistical evidence of foul-play... very rigorous). Niemann does have an ego, does have a temper - but that will not be what FIDE is looking at here. I think he just got mad that you simply mentioned Gretarsson. (I saw that as well - strange, he does not accuse him directly though.)
shivasundar shivasundar 10/29/2022 01:34
@Science22, your problem is not listening to any of us/remembering what we had responded to earlier. Also I hope you understand whatever is being written and said more clearly.

" that he was struck the very morning of their game..." I have already responded to you on this that in several post-game interviews top players prepared a line 'that morning' (up to even 20 moves deep) - you really should watch more interviews.

"All I say is that the abuse of Ken Regan should stop." I don't think anybody online is 'abusing' Dr. Regan! If somebody disagrees with parts of his research or methodology, that certainly does not make them abusive!! You praise Regan, but *even he says* that he found no evidence of Hans cheating in OTB games!!!

"...Niemann had a long string of elegant moves showing great knowledge of the unusual opening. " - the opening was neither unusual nor never played at the top level. It *is true* that Magnus had not played the *exact transposition* of the opening. It has, however, been played my many (including Caruana I believe), and this accusation has been rightly and repeatedly pointed out and debunked very early in several articles.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 10/28/2022 10:08
When did Regan ever say his model is outdated?

Why did GM Short find that there was nothing untoward about Niemann looking at a transposition from a previous Carlsen game? Besides that, there was a 2nd Carlsen game that was also a transposition from a different position. So there were 2 ways to transpose.

And if he was being fed moves during that famous game, why was he able to show other opening variations that didn't occur during the immediate post-game analysis? He clearly looked at multiple other possible transpositions.
A Alekhine A Alekhine 10/28/2022 06:10
The commenter Science22 posts his inaccurate and misleading comments on every article about Niemann. Most if not all of his arguments have already been rebutted adequately. I recommend that people read the excellent article here on by Andrea Carta:

Mr. Carta clearly shows that there are non-nefarious explanations for all the alleged statistics cited by various people to "prove" Niemann has cheated OTB.
Science22 Science22 10/28/2022 11:32
In Carlsen - Niemann Sinquefield cup 2022 Niemann had a long string of elegant moves showing great knowledge of the unusual opening. As an example 13 - , Be6 was a typical nonhuman move. What Niemann defenders fail to adequately address is his explanation for it.

Niemann claims that he was struck the very morning of their game by arbitrary inspiration to prepare for Magnus playing an opening he'd never played before. A ridicuolos miracle he calls it. Preparation includes engine analysis. So Niemanns explanation for playing like an engine with 13 - , Be6 is that he randomly had the feeling that Carlsen would repeat a former game os his.

Utter nonsense. Carlsen had never played the variation before . Never. Maxium 5 moves in a blitz game and to forget this fact few hours later from a person who call himself a genius in memory of games is absurd. Combine that with his largely absurd post-game analyses where he talk about Niemanns moves in third person and fail to understand anything and the picture is clear for sane people.

We simply do not accept that a top class player can behave like this and not cheating. We insist to listen to our expericene with dishonest people.

Now I have learned that nothing, absolutely nothing makes an impressoion on the wolf pack here. So I only write here to tease them, and hopefully get a chance to look them in the eyes when the full story is uncurled.
Science22 Science22 10/28/2022 11:15
@shivasundar : All I say is that the abuse of Ken Regan should stop. He is the first to admit that his model is outdated. He even explains what should be tested to improve the model.

Try playing 10 games where you use a good chessprogram to chose the moves. Then test whether Regan's anti-cheating system gives you a z-score above 5. It should. Then you try again, but this time you tone down your choices to a lesser good move but still within a drawing line. Only if opponent makes an error, you choose the computer's best move. Gradually, you discover how to get the z-score below 5, which is the upper limit for not cheating.

It is painstaking, but only through careful examining of Niemanns individual games it is possible to conclude something substantial about cheating OTB. Identify critical moves ( only - win - moves) and how long time Niemann use to play them.

The point is that a skilled top player use longer time when he sense a critical move that could win. Contrary an engine move at once because now the case is closed. Even with few seconds left on the clock in an endgame the engine bang out the correct move.

The data is there and can not be taken back. The games has been played, and we can check the time for each move in most tournaments. Many are doing the examination right now. After all, you can hire a lot of help for 100 mio. US and Carlsen will never ever give away a penny to a con man.

@Magic_Knight : Try to read the regulations of FIDE and the article from Regan I referred to. One moment you praise Regan if you can use it to hammer Carlsen, next moment you hammer all statistics if it does not go your way. . You try to reduce reality to short agressive manipulations, but we dont fall for it.
shivasundar shivasundar 10/28/2022 10:26
@HollyHampstead, very good question!
Courts have what is known as an Amicus Curiae, or "Friend(s) of the Court" in such technically complex cases. So, for example here, the Federal Court of Missouri might appoint a lawyer who is an expert-level chess player, say [hopefully that also has enough understanding of modeling and statistics.] The Amicus reports to the judge(s) alone, and their loyalty is to the Court as a court-appointed officer to assist the judge in understanding the nuances.

It may also be that the Court (it is certainly within its power) can consult other outside expert testimony (independent of the plaintiffs and defendants) I would presume.

The judge also 'guides' the jury in what should and should not be considered 'evidence': this includes documentary, testimonial and witness evidence (including exhibits). Every shred of evidence is tested in the court: that is what will finally determine the case!
HollyHampstead HollyHampstead 10/28/2022 09:26
How can a judge and jury be expected to come to a correct verdict, whatever that may be, when all or almost all of the evidence offered by each side will be beyond their understanding?
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/28/2022 06:21
@shivasundar - Agreed. And the only "evidence" (if it can even be called such) is more number crunching and probabilities that are spat out by statisticians. The worst kind of argument for cheating.

I don't know where @science22 is getting his information, but if 'behavior' really is one of the parameters for which FIDE uses to determine cheating......may god help us all <insert eyeroll here>
shivasundar shivasundar 10/27/2022 10:56
@Science22, I agree the 'smart cheater' theory is out there, and yet to be proven. I also agree that I do not have data on all of the past tournaments Hans played in: but remember not all of them were 'broadcast'. This is what chesscom said in *their* report, essentially clearing him of any OTB foul-play. Whether they looked at timestamp data for broadcast games, I do not know. But based on the totality of evidence they had (their 20+52 page report, where they simply say 'look at these 3 tournaments if you want' to FIDE) they maintain (surprisingly as a 'business partner of Magnus') that there is no foul-play they found OTB on the part of Hans.

I am willing to give time to FIDE. Let us see what new evidence possibly emerges. Again, evidence does not equal proof - and we still do not have either as of now.
tauno tauno 10/27/2022 10:48
@shivasundar - I don't think FIDE is that interested in the big picture. This organization is crippled, and that's why Niemann had to file a lawsuit, hoping to get some kind of justice. Probably it might take some couple of years before the trial is over (if the parties haven't reached a settlement before then) and I think we'll know very little about what's going on behind the scenes until it's all over.

P.S. 1. FIDE should also be sued for negligence and failure to fulfill its obligations, but I don't know if there is any legal possibility to do so.

P.S. 2. I don't know about the RF detector, but the fun part was this:

NRK's ​​reporter: "So you are confident that no one will get anything through the inspection?"
Aulin-Jansson (FIDE): "It is quite possible that they do it, but they don't get to use it."
shivasundar shivasundar 10/27/2022 10:44
Oh... interesting what Aulin-Jansson at FIDE said (he was probably referring to the delay). The delay was only 5 minutes... also read about 'plainclothes' people in the audience who are security people. (not following the FRC, so donno the time controls...)
shivasundar shivasundar 10/27/2022 10:39
I think FIDE can be taken to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne)... I would not advise Hans to do that _yet_: because they can yet find he cheated OTB somewhere; if they do not find he cheated OTB then yes...

Not sure if technically they can be sued yet in US court... especially given they have a committee at EDC (Ethics and Disciplinary Committee) currently investigating Carlsen as well (what I was referring to). I am not sure if incompetence is sueable, just like you said. FIDE also probably is not made of a lot of money. I am only saying that even if Hans wins at the EDC (Carlsen is 'token-banned' let's say) his life and career may still be ruined :-( Where is the justice in that? I mean most organizers may continue to 'shadow-ban' him. (I hope not.)

I agree FIDE has not done well at all, now hiding behind the coat-tails of the WC and generally saying things about cheating alone, and not addressing the reputational damage done to Hans by the wild allegations.
Science22 Science22 10/27/2022 09:34
According to regulations FIDE assesses whether a person has cheated based on three parameters:
1 )Physical evidence
2) Behavior
3) Statistics
As for physical evidence, there are so many ways to bypass simple scans that we can safely conclude they haven't been done yet. It will come.

As far as behavior is concerned, Niemann dumps on all parameters.He cannot explain what he played after the game and he lies about what Carlsen had played earlier. He talk about his games in third person as if he has not played them himself ( correct). There isn't a top class player he hasn't called an idiot. He lies about how many times he cheated, and explains he just wanted to test the system in a confirmed mail. He has a sick personality. Something went wrong in childhood.

Before Niemann got ready to run for office, he knew that Regan's 2014 model would stop him. Don't make a fool of him too, he is just a con man. Of course, he had to cheat in a way that did not give a high z- score. To limit the number of great moves. But the games has been played now, and we know exactly how much time he used pr,. move . He cant change the data, it is too late. FIDE will based on new solid statistics conclude he has cheated big time OTB.
OTB big time and that is exactly what FIDE will conclude based on new statistical studies.

The rules for good behavior at chess tournaments are ultimately determined by the community. Not by crooked American lawyers with greed in their eyes. Rather than give 100 mio US to a con man you can safely assume that the accused will buy quality help to uncurl the whole story.
shivasundar shivasundar 10/27/2022 08:23
@tauno, It is not sufficient that Magnus is punished, I guess is what I am saying. What about reputational damage to Hans? I mean, after what 2 months not a single soul has found anything wrong with any OTB games of Hans... and Hans has no college, no way to teach chess due to the bad image/vibes, no significant way of making money in chess, which *was to be* his life.... [Only thing I am reading is: he is part of the World Team Championship, so may be USCF has not lost their faith in him... but representing the national team does not give one a lot of money I hear...]

I mean the man's life has been destroyed, and we do not see much in the way of proof for why he shud *not be allowed to participate* in professional chess. Where is the justice in that? Is there any other forum? I guess we can agree, justice is dead... and the powerful and the rich always win.
shivasundar shivasundar 10/27/2022 08:14
@tauno, thx for the NRK link where the reporter was able to bypass the metal detector. Was there an RF detector as well (the one that has a screen, and apprarently detects waves of all frequencies, AND switched off electronic devices...)?

tauno tauno 10/27/2022 07:54
@mc1483 - I agree, Carlsen's position looks not good. FIDE will surely raise a warning finger and tell Carlsen that if it happens again, there will be serious consequences and in the worst case he could be banned from OTB chess for four weeks. But I don't think FIDE dares to go that far. After all, we are talking about a world champion.
shivasundar shivasundar 10/27/2022 07:49
@tauno, I am sad too - that the "burden of proof" has now shifted (Csquared podcast), and "innocent until proven guilty" is no longer the case. I believe it is doubly sad now that ccom, Magnus and PMG (forget Naka) are *now presumed innocent*. I find the US standards of libel proof to be absurdly high as well... somebody has to "prove Magnus' state of mind" that Magnus "knew Hans didn't cheat, but said it anyway" vs "I don't know if he cheated, but will defame and blacklist him anyway, due to his past record, and 'feelings' about one game".

That is what I believe I do not like. May be he should try the FIDE EDC as his appropriate forum now...

I also agree that 100M is just ridiculous, I would say that lawyers typically give 'high amount' as a basis for negotiation, so that there can be ample room for settlement. Donno if that's what happened here, but likely I would say...
mc1483 mc1483 10/27/2022 07:10
@tauno: considering that Fide only approves Ken Regan's algorithm, and that Ken Regan himself has already stated there's no reason to suspect Niemann of cheating, Carlsen's position looks not good. And that is with regard to both Fide and the lawsuit, although this last one could go the other way because of political reasons.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/27/2022 06:15
It's too late to focus on chess. Carlsen started an off-the-board fight and he cannot quit without Niemann's permission. He's in zugzwang.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/27/2022 05:58
I think it is purely incendiary (and unnecessary) for Gretarsson to suddenly make cheating innuendos about his past game with Niemann. Suddenly all the GMs who lost to Niemann are popping out of the woodwork and felt that they were cheated by Niemann LOL. The bill cosby effect!
Jacob woge Jacob woge 10/27/2022 05:06
@Pemeo6 -

Right you are! Well that’s gonna be tough. How can anyone, any chess player, provide such proof?
tauno tauno 10/27/2022 05:00
There are new Anti-Cheating Regulations by FIDE online:

Regulations are good, but unfortunately their enforcement cannot be better than the organization that enforces them.
Pemoe6 Pemoe6 10/27/2022 04:39
@Jacob woge: I was only repeating what this American law professor has told in the interview (see the link by tauno) - it's really interesting!
Point being: Actually Niemann is sueing, so Niemann has to prove everything. I was surprised as well...
Science22 Science22 10/27/2022 03:51
Ken Regan has in his papers from 2014 made it quite clear that one can cheat his anti-cheat - system playing average drawish moves and focus on some few important moves if the opponent blunders. If Niemann decided to cheat OTB after 2018 he knew of course this.

In his notes Ken Regan ( see Chess Lfe June 2014) make it clear that FIDE should check critical moves, and how long time the player use to find the correct only- win- move . Because if the time is siginficant shorter than any other top class players it will be an indication of cheat.

Finally , Ken Regan has never analysed Niemanns OTB games before 2020, så he cant tell anything about the difference in results between live transmission and not ( it is huge) . Contrary to the troll statements here that use his name to reject investigations he has never checked.

Regans statistical methods is based on " least quares best fit " ( basic statistics) which twist in a clever way to develop a z- score ( a relative deviations from what a player with a certain ELO should be able to play and actually play).

But there are so much more interesting to ask about to catch a cheater after 2014, and the model has not developed. One has to go deeper into the games.

I wonder what will happen if FIDE conclude that Niemann most likely has cheated OTB . I can see no other solid conclusion tahn this about a person who analyse his games in third person. He is not playing through his games, he is watching them in interviews.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 10/27/2022 03:46
"You probably can't win a defamation lawsuit if you have already admitted to twice cheating...and then maybe up to 100 times more."

Well, if there are ~100 other grandmasters with an on-line cheating record, who get nowhere near the same level of consequence - then there is an argument that OtB an on-line chess are separate worlds.

Or, at least were, at the time.

And I may have gotten this wrong, but I think the burden is on Carlsen to prove that OtB cheating has actually taken place. How can anyone prove that you never shoplifted? Inverting the burden of proof in a) by Pemeo6.

The "bad faith" clause b) is where the fight is really going to stand. c) is obviously fulfilled.
tauno tauno 10/27/2022 02:58
@Pemoe6 - I won't speculate, but your point b) is very interesting.

"Good faith and its opposite, bad faith, imports a subjective state of mind, the former motivated by honesty of purpose and the latter by ill-will." - from wiki.

Of course, there are many other definitions as well, but this one says the most, (and it's nice and elegant, too).

I'm not sure about ill-will, but it seems that many of the claims made by all parties are motivated by shame, pride and fear. This is why facts and evidence are so twisted and distorted. The court's has a difficult task and it may take some time to put things straight.
Pemoe6 Pemoe6 10/27/2022 12:02
@tauno: Thanks for the link. The information is very informative and above all comes from someone with competence.
Clearly, now Niemann is the plaintiff, the presumption of innocence applies to Carlsen, and Nakamura, so Niemann must provide the evidence. And the hurdles for that are high. He sues for defamation and therefore has to prove
a) that the accusations against him are not true (!),
b) that there is bad faith on the part of the defendant,
c) that his future career is really destroyed.
How is he supposed to do that? I thought c) would be the easiest, but of all points the professor contradicts.
Harry Pillsbury Harry Pillsbury 10/27/2022 11:49
You probably can't win a defamation lawsuit if you have already admitted to twice cheating...and then maybe up to 100 times more.
eastyz eastyz 10/27/2022 09:31
I don't see why 30.Ne2 is an engine move (although GMs are known to find them). The reason why Niemann played it is simple, if you ever listen to his commentaries. He typically avoids bishops of the opposite colour when he believes he is on top. That simple. If instead 30. Bf4 then black would play 30.....Bc3 with better drawing chances. The fact that Ne2 to f4 created difficulties for black's king was incidental to the fact that Niemann was trying to avoid a drawish position.
malfa malfa 10/27/2022 07:59
@mc1483: I think that 30.Ne2 actually does not require at all the skill of a GM, rather the one of a seasoned and inactive FM with a penchant for active play ;-)
tauno tauno 10/27/2022 06:07
All credit to Gretarsson's description, but here a somewhat more nuanced take on Niemann's lawsuit:

Niemann Sues Carlsen, and Nakamura.
Law Professor David Franklin joins to Assess the Case

You can listen “Perpetual Chess Podcast” at Spotify too.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/27/2022 05:06

Over 100 GMs have been caught cheating on chess dot com, including a bunch of top-100 players. What is obvious is that none of them have had their careers ruined from it, I doubt there would be any support for banning any (but 1) of them from OTB tournaments.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 10/27/2022 04:28
Gretarsson has a confirmation bias. He knows he simply got crushed. He's more than 100 points lower than Niemann who is still rising. He's doing the same thing Carlsen is doing... creating suspicion without any evidence or proof.
knnt954 knnt954 10/27/2022 01:39
Please quit talking about Carlsen-Newmann problem. Time will tell. Let's keep the beautiful site clean and enjoy chess together. Thank you.
StrongErick StrongErick 10/27/2022 01:10
First he loses and throws stones and now he says he only plays chess.
Jack Nayer Jack Nayer 10/27/2022 12:42
Marin Vukusic: Well said.
tauno tauno 10/27/2022 12:34
NRK reporter cheated the insurance check at the Fischer Random WC

The article is in Norwegian
saturn23 saturn23 10/26/2022 11:16
Isn't time for Carlsen to show his evidence that Niemann cheated in over the board chess?