Chess rivals settle long-running cheating dispute

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Hans Niemann was accused last year of cheating
By Graeme Baker
BBC News

A Norwegian world champion and the US prodigy who unexpectedly beat him have resolved a year-long cheating row that rattled the world of chess.

Magnus Carlsen accused Hans Niemann of foul play after he lost in the Sinquefield Cup in September.

Mr Niemann sued his rival, the online platform, and a second grandmaster for defamation. now says the row is settled, Mr Niemann’s account is restored and Mr Carlsen accepts there was no cheating.

The agreement seeks to end a year of recriminations and unfounded claims that began when Mr Carlsen, the world number one, said Mr Niemann, then 19, had cheated to beat him at the tournament in St Louis, Missouri.

Mr Niemann admitted that he had cheated twice in online matches on aged 12 and 16, but denied he had done so in the Sinquefield Cup or any in-person game.

The website suspended his account after his admission, then said in a report that it had evidence he had “likely” cheated in about 100 online matches.

Crucially, however, the same report said it had found no evidence of cheating in the tournament against Mr Carlsen.

The accusations led to outlandish speculation on social media over how Mr Niemann could possibly cheat in person.

Theories included tiny microphones and even the use of items that could be embedded in the body which could pass coded instructions.

Mr Niemann filed a $100m (£79m) defamation lawsuit in October against Mr Carlsen,, and Hikaru Nakamura, a US grandmaster who stated repeatedly his conviction that Mr Niemann had cheated.

That case was later dismissed, leading to out-of-court discussions to resolve the issue.

Magnus Carlsen said he would be willing to play Hans Niemann again

“Since June, both sides have negotiated privately in a good-faith effort to resolve their issues and allow the chess world to move forward without further litigation,” said in a statement on Monday.

“We are happy to share that all sides have reached an agreement.”

It added that Mr Niemann was welcome to play at “any and all events… and will be treated no differently from any other player”.

The platform said it stood by its report on Mr Niemann, “including that we found no determinative evidence that he has cheated in any in-person games”.

Mr Carlsen, 32, said he acknowledged and understood the report, “including its statement that there is no determinative evidence” of wrongdoing by his rival.

He added that he was “willing to play Niemann in future events, should we be paired together”.

Mr Niemann said that he was “pleased” that his lawsuit had been “resolved in a mutually acceptable manner” and that he looked forward “to competing against Magnus in chess rather than in court”.

Mr Nakamura, meanwhile, said in a YouTube video blog that he was glad the chess world had “moved forward”.

“It’s good that it is behind us. A lot of things that were spawned out of this were very negative and definitely reflected very poorly on chess as a whole,” he said.

“Everyone gets to go forward with their lives.”

However, he claimed that there were “many grandmasters who are speculating about cheating. Down the road I may or may not name names. I might go into that in the future.”

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