A federal judge has tossed out chess prodigy Hans Niemann’s $100 million libel lawsuit against a fellow grandmaster who accused him of cheating in a tournament.
Niemann, 19, filed the lawsuit last year in US District Court for Missouri, accusing Norwegian chess world champion Magnus Carlsen of slandering him by accusing him of cheating.
Last year, Niemann sent the elite world of competitive chess into a tailspin when he defeated Carlsen in the prestigious Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, leading Carlsen to publicly accuse him of cheating.
In an order on Tuesday, Judge Audrey G. Fleissig dismissed the federal antitrust claims in Niemann’s lawsuit with prejudice, meaning they cannot be brought again, and declined to accept jurisdiction over the suit’s libel and slander claims.
Carlsen’s attorney Craig M. Reiser told DailyMail.com in a statement: ‘We are pleased the Court has rejected Hans Niemann’s attempt to recover an undeserved windfall in Missouri federal court, and that Niemann’s attempt to chill speech through strategic litigation in that forum has failed.’
A federal judge has tossed out chess prodigy Hans Niemann’s (above) $100 million libel lawsuit against a fellow grandmaster who accused him of cheating in a tournament
Niemann, 19, filed the lawsuit last year in US District Court for Missouri, accusing Norwegian chess world champion Magnus Carlsen (above) of slandering him
A lawyer for Niemann did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon.
His lawsuit had also named online chess platform Chess.com, Chess.com executive Daniel Rensch and chess streamer Hikaru Nakamura.
The suit sensationally accused the defendants of ‘colluding to blacklist’ Niemann from professional chess, saying he had been shunned by tournament organizers since five-time world champion Carlsen accused him of cheating.
Judge Fleissig rejected the federal antitrust elements of the suit for failure to state a claim, meaning that, even if Niemann’s allegations were true, they did not constitute a proper claim for relief under the law.
The other elements of the suit, including libel and slander, would not normally fall under federal jurisdiction, and the judge declined to extend jurisdiction after tossing out the antitrust elements.
Attorneys Nima Mohebbi and Jamie Wine of Latham & Watkins, who represented Chess.com against the suit, told DailyMail.com: ‘We are very pleased with the court’s order dismissing Hans Niemann’s claims.
‘Our clients are happy to see an end to this saga, and are grateful that all parties can now focus on growing the game of chess.’
The saga began at the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis in September, when Carlsen withdrew after Niemann defeated him playing black, a significant disadvantage at the highest levels of chess.
Carlsen’s surprise defeat and unusual decision to immediately withdraw from the tournament set off a flurry of speculation in the chess world that Carlsen believed Niemann had cheated.
Wild speculation and rumors swirled online, including a suggestion first floated by chess podcasters that Niemann had used vibrating anal beads to receive tips from a confederate.
The saga began at the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis in St. Louis, during which Carlsen sensationally withdrew after Niemann (above) defeated him playing black
Rumor erupted into scandal later that month when Carlsen resigned after one move in a match against Niemann during an online tournament.
Carlsen then released a statement saying he believed Niemann had cheated ‘more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted,’ though he did not speculate on how the cheating was carried out.
Chess.com, an internet chess server, banned Niemann after the first match against Carlsen and later published a report saying he had likely cheated more than 100 times in online games.
Niemann has admitted to cheating in online chess matches when he was 12 and 16 years old but has denied ever doing so in during tournaments involving prize money, or in over-the-board matches.
Tournament organizers in St Louis say they have not found any evidence that Niemann cheated.
After the cheating accusations, a 72-page report by Chess.com accused the ‘self-taught chess prodigy’ of cheating ‘more than 100 times’.
‘On October 5, 2022, Niemann was scheduled to begin competing in the U.S. Chess Championship tournament, which, due to Defendants’ repeated defamatory accusations and blacklisting, is quite possibly one of the last competitive chess tournaments in which Niemann will ever be allowed to play,’ the lawsuit reads.
‘Niemann desperately hoped to be able to compete in that tournament, deliver an impressive performance, and lessen the blow of at least some of Defendants’ defamatory accusations. Yet, once again, Defendants had different plans.’
The lengthy report showed that the prodigy privately confessed to Chess.com he had cheated on numerous occasions, while it also revealed that he was banned from the site – though this was never made public.
The report states that Niemann confessed his cheating to Chess.com COO Danny Rensch during a Zoom call, and afterwards in writing during a Slack chat.
Many of the tournaments Chess.com said Niemann cheated in included cash prizes, the report said, including Chess.com prize events, Speed Chess Championship Qualifiers, and the PRO Chess League.
As a result of the accusations, tournaments, including the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, have ceased contact with Niemann.
Meanwhile, Carlsen’s refusal to participate in tournaments where Niemann is present also effectively bans the 19-year-old from ‘the vast majority’ of them, he complained in his lawsuit.
Niemann has admitted to cheating in online chess matches when he was 12 and 16 years old but has denied ever doing so in during tournaments involving prize money
The lawsuit alleged that Carlsen’s actions were financially motivated – his Player Magnus brand merged with Chess.com in a $83 million deal last August. Player Magnus is Carlsen’s chess training app.
Defendant Nakamura is one of Chess.com’s ‘influential streaming partners’ that posted content to amplify Carlsen’s accusations with ‘numerous additional defamatory statements,’ the suit said.
Meanwhile, Chess.com executive Rensch was accused of releasing the company’s ‘defamatory report’ to ‘bolster Carlsen’s unsubstantiated defamatory accusations that Niemann cheated against him at the Sinquefield Cup.’
In court filings, Rensch and Carlsen said that Niemann is an ‘admitted’ cheater who failed to identify any defamatory statements by them in his lawsuit.
‘After years of trying to curate a reputation as the bad boy of chess, plaintiff Hans Niemann wants to cash in by blaming others for the fallout from his own admitted misconduct,’ Carlsen’s filing said.