The fiery cheating scandal consuming the chess world for the past month appears to be coming to a close and it looks like 19-year-old grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann has found himself in checkmate.
A newly released Chess.com investigation first viewed by The Wall Street Journal claims Niemann likely received prohibited assistance in over 100 online games with some of the cheating repeatedly occurring as recently as two years ago. In addition to the online games, the investigation found numerous “irregularities” in Niemann’s in-person games. Niemann himself apparently privately confessed to some of the cheating allegations, according to the report.
“Overall, we have found that Hans has likely cheated in more than 100 online Chess games, including several prize money events,” a screenshot of the investigation reads. The investigation reportedly includes a letter sent to Niemann noting examples of “blatant cheating” to improve his ratings.
Niemann allegedly confessed to the cheating allegations to Chess.com Chief Chess Officer (yes, that’s a thing) Danny Rensch, over a 2020 phone call. The investigation notes that Niemann’s suspicious moves synced up with times when he opened up new screens on his computer, suggesting he might have sneakily used an illegal chess engine to inform him of his best move options.
“While we don’t doubt that Hans is a talented player, we note that his results are statistically extraordinary,” the report reads according to the Journal.
The explosive revelations follow weeks of drama, and ultimately cheating allegations from world chess champion Magnus Carlsen. For those still catching up, Carlsen shocked the chess world by withdrawing from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup after losing to Niemann Carlsen released a rather cryptic tweet following his withdrawal seeming to suggest Niemann cheated. Weeks later Carlsen faced off against Nielmann once more at the online Julius Baer Generation Cup and shut off his stream after just two moves, presumably out of protest. Carlsen continued to silently hint at the cheating before finally making an official statement last week, where he described cheating as “an existential threat” to chess.
“I believe Niemann has cheated more—and more recently—than he has publicly admitted,” Carlsen wrote. “His over the board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions.”
The new Chess.com investigation appears to bolster Carlsen’s allegations. Niemann previously admitted to cheating when he was 12 and 16 which he described as “the single biggest mistake in my life.” If that’s the case, the new report suggests Niemann certainly didn’t learn his lesson.
Chess.com says it uses numerous analytics to determine whether or not players are consulting chess engines or other illegal applications. The company monitors players’ past performance and also reportedly compares players’ moves with those recommended by chess engines. Confirming allegations of cheating in physical, over-the-board games, however, is much more difficult. Chess.com wouldn’t definitively say one way or another whether Niemann cheated in person but reportedly said some of his strongest performances, “merit further investigation based on the data.”
The investigation’s findings are likely to send shockwaves through the chess world. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, the investigation declined to weigh in on the theory that Niemann allegedly received move instructions through vibrating anal beads tucked up his ass.
You can read the full report below.