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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