At the moment there is no judicial conviction of Magnus Carlsen for accusing Hans Niemann without evidence of cheating in the game between the two on September 4, which Niemann won. A judge from Missouri (USA) has dismissed the American’s claim against the Norwegian (then world champion and still number one) for “not less than one hundred million dollars” for each of the counts: defamation, libel, violating antitrust law, and civil conspiracy. The judge considers the last two closed, but leaves the door open for a new lawsuit if new evidence is presented on the first two. The lawsuit also included as defendants the Chess.com platform and the grandmaster and streamer American Hikaru Nakamura.
No chess grandmaster (except Carlsen) or reputable expert today maintains that Niemann cheated in the car game, played at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, the capital of the state of Missouri. Carlsen played it knowing, through insider information from Chess.com (120 million users), that Niemann had cheated when he was a minor (he is now 20 years old) in internet games. The Scandinavian played that game clearly below his usual level.
Starting the next day, Carlsen hinted several times and in various ways that Niemann had cheated in that game. Not only verbally – but always with words that were not an unequivocal direct accusation – but with deeds: for example, giving up after just one move in a game he played with Niemann in an online tournament, the Julius Baer, on the 19th of September, two weeks after his loss in St. Louis. Or with this phrase: “I think Niemann has cheated more than he admits.” In the many online debates since then, several lawyers predicted that the judge would dismiss the lawsuit because Carlsen’s statements can be interpreted as a simple opinion based on freedom of expression, and not as a clear case of defamation.
At the time of writing this chronicle, the reasoning behind the judge’s decision is unknown. Niemann has not responded to a request from EL PAIS for him to give his opinion. Yes, the words of satisfaction of Carlsen’s lawyers and the directors of Chess.com have been published, which when the events occurred was finishing buying Chess24 -another platform, of which Carlsen is a majority shareholder- for more than 80 million euros .
Niemann acknowledged, as soon as the scandal began, that he had cheated on the Internet years ago. But he assured that he never did them in a face-to-face game, and since then no one has provided any evidence to the contrary. In the tournaments that followed the scandal, his results were generally good, despite the enormous media pressure he suffered: two months ago he was among the 35 best in the world, with 2,706 Elo points, without anyone formulating the slightest suspicion that cheated in any game. His recent performances have been worse, and he’s down to 55th.
The author of these lines watched Niemann from several meters away for hours at the World Cup of Nations in Jerusalem at the end of November. And he also analyzed all of the American’s flashy games (in live tournaments) since 2020. The conclusion was that his talent is as great as his nervous instability, which could explain the irregularity of his results. This opinion fully coincides with that of several coaches who have worked with Niemann, such as the American Max Dlugy and the British Jacob Aagard. On the other hand, the American mathematician Ken Reagan, considered the world’s foremost expert on cheating in chess, maintains that he has not found any in Niemann’s games since 2020.
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Source: EL PAIS