Chess’s cheating scandal took another bizarre twist on Wednesday after the US teenager Hans Niemann accused world champion Magnus Carlsen of paying a fellow grandmaster €300 to scream “Cheater Hans” from a public balcony during a tournament.
The allegation is contained in an amended legal submission from Niemann, who is seeking $100m in damages from Carlsen, Chess.com and others for defamation, slander and “unlawfully colluding to blacklist him from the profession to which he has dedicated his life”.
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In his updated document to the district court of Missouri, Niemann also claims Carlsen and his team-mates further damaged his reputation by chanting “Jukse Hans” – “Cheater Hans” in Norwegian – in bars during the European team championships in Austria in October.
The spate of back-and-forth allegations began after Niemann shocked Carlsen in an over-the-board match at the Sinquefield Cup in September, which led to the world champion hinting that his opponent was cheating. The following week Carlsen then refused to play in an online game against Niemann, preferring instead to resign.
The American admitted to cheating online when he was 12 and 16, but has denied ever doing so over the board. He has also promised to play naked to prove his innocence after unfounded suggestions he may have used vibrating anal beads were amplified by Elon Musk.
Meanwhile in his latest submission, Niemann accuses Carlsen of going to even further lengths to smear him.
“To ensure that he inflicted the maximum possible damage to Niemann and his career, Carlsen, in the days and weeks that followed the Sinquefield Cup, deployed a more covert defamatory campaign against Niemann, designed to bolster Carlsen’s more high-profile defamatory accusations within the chess community,” the submission to the district court of Missouri states.
“In Carlsen’s malicious defamatory campaign against Niemann, Carlsen went as far as paying Aryan Tari €300 to scream ‘Ukse [sic] Hans’, Norwegian for ‘Cheater Hans’, from the stands at the closing ceremony of the European Club Cup on October 9, 2022, which was attended by many of the world’s most prominent chess players and heard by many of its fans.”
It adds: “Shortly thereafter, the entire Norwegian chess team, including Carlsen, were observed publicly chanting ‘Ukse [sic] Hans’ in bars and the streets of the Austrian town where the European Club Cup was held. Any reasonable listener of these statements would interpret them as reiterating Carlsen’s false accusation that Niemann cheated when he defeated Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup.”
Chess.com and Carlsen deny any wrongdoing. Last autumn Chess.com issued a report that said Niemann had cheated in more online matches than he had confessed to, while in December it filed a motion to dismiss Niemann’s lawsuit.
Its motion said that Niemann’s claims of a conspiracy between the online chess company and other players to falsely portray him as a cheater were “plainly without merit” and could only be conceived as a “publicity stunt”.
Carlsen’s lawyer, meanwhile, has called Niemann’s allegations “nothing more than an attempt to deflect blame on to others”.
Representatives of Chess.com and Magnus Carlsen have been approached for comment. – Guardian