Chess: Niemann sues Carlsen and others for $100m after recovery at St Louis | Magnus Carlsen

Hans Niemann, the 19-year-old accused by the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, of being a cheat, made an impressive recovery in the second half of the US championship in St Louis. After that, his next move was in the Eastern Missouri District Court, seeking $100m in damages from Carlsen, the website, the streamer Hikaru Nakamura and others, alleging that they are “colluding to blacklist” him from major events, including the “chess Wimbledon” at Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands.

From next to last of the 14 US Championship players at halfway with 2.5/7, Niemann improved to tied fifth and 7/13 at the finish. Of the five members of the US Olympiad team, only the former world No 2 Fabiano Caruana, who won the title, defeated him. His tournament performance was exactly at the level expected from his previous results, while his best game began with 18 moves of theory and was decided at move 36 when Black chose Kd8? instead of Kc8!

Niemann followed up his round-10 win on Sunday with an emotional interview where he admitted: “I’ve definitely been humbled a lot in this tournament,” adding: “I’m a competitive chess player on the path to becoming a world champion.” He made no comment on the report that claimed he had cheated more than 100 times in online events.

Niemann has countered his critics by success at the board in conditions where cheating was virtually impossible. Sceptics had believed that his inability to describe his over-the-board games in concrete terms in postmortem interviews was evidence that he was playing without understanding and therefore must have computer aid.

His US championship games relied on strong pre-game preparation plus tactical alertness. Carlsen, after his Sinquefield Cup defeat, claimed that Niemann “wasn’t tense or fully concentrated on the game in critical positions,” but viewers to the live feed from St Louis could see that Niemann often looks away from the board or stares at his opponent. Mikhail Tal and Vasyl Ivanchuk did that, too.

Chess 3838
Elshan Moradiabadi v Hans Niemann: Black played 1…e5! and White resigned. The queens will shortly be exchanged, White has no time for an en passant capture, and Black wins easily with rook for knight ahead.

St Louis’s expensive state-of-the art security precautions, with metal-detecting wands, radio-frequency scanners, and scanners for checking silicon devices, were probably the most thorough for any chess tournament in history. They did the trick, and there have been no serious suggestions that any game was played abnormally.

The outcome is that Niemann, competing without outside assistance as a US championship debutant, and playing under extreme pressure from all the many allegations before and during the tournament, has still performed at the level of the world’s top 40 grandmasters, and has maintained his elite 2700 rating.

Niemann has consistently denied the accusations made by Carlsen, saying that he only cheated twice in his life when playing online chess and that this was one of the greatest regrets of his life.

There is a difference between cheating with a computer aid over the board, which is very rare, unlikely to be successful, and punishable with a long ban, to cheating with a computer online, which is easy to do, difficult to police, possible to repeat using a different account or another website, and widely regarded as less serious.

Carlsen played in’s Titled Tuesday last week, starting a round late, opening as White with 1 g2-g4 and as Black with 1…g7-g5, and finishing on 9/11, half a point behind Nakamura.

The talking point came in the penultimate round when the world champion, then on 7.5/9, met Rauf Mamedov, who was half a point ahead, and the game went 1 e2-e4 g7-g5 2 Resigns, after which the Azerbaijan grandmaster withdrew from the tournament.

Mamedov explained in an interview that he regarded 1…g7-g5 as “mockery” of Carlsen’s opponents: “If you’ve come to make fun of us, then without me … Imagine, a very young Anatoly Karpov or Garry Kasparov comes to the Central Chess Club in Moscow, against him is a 2650 grandmaster, and he plays 1 e4 g5. Well, they’ll beat you up!”

Others pointed out that Carlsen has used bizarre openings on many previous occasions, including his Double Bongcloud 1 e4 e5 1 Ke2 Ke7 against Nakamura and his 1 f3 and 2 Kf2 against Wesley So in the 2020 Banter final. His aides claimed that he was doing it “just for fun”, and the world No 1 himself added: “I do actually know that g5 is a weak move, but I was having a bad day.” Nakamura, not to be outdone, chose 1 g4/1…g5 in all his TT games this week, finishing second in both the early and late editions.

3838 1 Bb4! Kf7 2 a4. If now Ke8 3 a5 Kd8 4 Bd6 Kc8 5 a6 wins. If Ke6 3 a5 Kd5 4 a6 Kc6 5 Ba5! wins, as the BK is prevented from reaching a8.

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