Hans Niemann, the teenager at the center of an alleged cheating controversy, filed a lawsuit against world champion Magnus Carlsen, internet platform Chess.com, and others on Thursday, October 20, claiming at least $100 million in damages for slander and libel.
The case, which was filed in Missouri’s US District Court, also names as defendants Carlsen’s online chess platform Play Magnus, Chess.com executive Danny Rensch, and American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.
Niemann, 19, alleged that the defendants are “colluding to blacklist” him from the professional chess scene and that tournament organizers have ignored him since five-time world champion Carlsen publicly accused him of cheating.
Carlsen’s shocking loss against Niemann and subsequent withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri in September triggered a flurry of accusations that the American had cheated, even from Nakamura.
A few weeks after the Sinquefield Cup, the Norwegian withdrew after just one move versus Niemann in an online event and stated in September that he suspected Niemann had “cheated more than he has officially admitted, and more lately.”
Attorneys for Chess.com stated in a Thursday statement that Niemann’s charges lacked merit and that the company was disappointed by his decision to pursue legal action.
“Hans admitted publicly to cheating online following the Sinquefield Cup, and he is responsible for the resultant ramifications,” the statement added.
“Chess.com is eager to correct the record on behalf of its crew and all honest chess players.”
Carlsen and Nakamura’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chess.com banned Niemann after his first match against Carlsen and published a report earlier this month stating that he likely cheated in online games more than 100 times.
Niemann had already been banned from Chess.com for online cheating, having admitting to playing unfairly in non-competitive games on the website during his youth, but denying any misconduct in over-the-board games.
According to his lawsuit, Chess.com “barred Niemann from its website and any future events in order to lend credibility to Carlsen’s unfounded and defamatory cheating allegations.”
The lawsuit also accused Nakamura, a streaming partner of Chess.com, of posting “hours of video content intended to back Carlsen’s bogus cheating charges.”
The International Chess Federation (FIDE) said last month that it will investigate cheating claims.