Aug. 29 (UPI) — A defamation legal battle regarding a teenage chess prodigy accused of using vibrating sex toys to cheat during a tournament in Missouri last year reached its conclusion Monday.
Hans Niemann, 19, defeated the Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, 31, in a chess match that led to accusations — including from other chess grandmasters — that he had cheated, according to a lawsuit obtained by UPI. The lawsuit was filed against Chess.com, Carlsen and others.
“Shortly after those events, Chess.com privately closed Niemann’s account and published an investigative report about Hans Niemann’s play,” Chess.com said in a statement Monday. Chess.com, the leading platform for online gameplay, had suspended Niemann after the accusations were made.
“Since June, both sides have negotiated privately in a good-faith effort to resolve their issues and allow the chess world to move forward without further litigation. We are happy to share that all sides have reached an agreement,” Chess.com said in the statement.
The statement noted that each entity involved has its own “opinions about the events surrounding the controversy and they agree they should each be able to talk openly about their views.”
Chess.com said it has fully reinstated Niemann, affirming that there has been “no determinative evidence” that he cheated in any in-person games.
The organization published a statement from Carlsen in which the grandmaster acknowledged the lack of evidence Niemann cheated in last year’s Sinquefield Cup matchup.
“I am willing to play Niemann in future events, should we be paired together,” Carlsen said.
Niemann said in a statement that the lawsuit had been resolved “in a mutually acceptable manner” and said he looked forward to returning to Chess.com.
“As Hans returns to Chess.com, he will be allowed to play in any and all events, and will be treated no differently from any other player,” the organization said.
“Chess.com always retains the right to open and close accounts based on our judgment, and we take that stewardship seriously.”
The lawsuit also involved the American chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura who also implied in several comments on Twitch that Nieman may have had a history of online cheating.
However, it did not appear to include Canadian grandmaster Eric Hansen’s Twitch feed ChessBrah, archived by Twitter users, in which he alleged that Niemann had used sex toys to cheat.
Instead, the lawsuit primarily focused on Carlsen who Niemann alleged “viciously and maliciously retaliated” against him for defeating him.
“Carlsen’s unprecedented actions, coupled with his unfounded accusations, sent shock waves through the chess world and instantly thrust Niemann into the center of what is now widely reported as the single biggest chess scandal in history,” the lawsuit reads.
“Due to his unparalleled stature and influence in the chess community, Carlsen knew that the public would believe his accusations of cheating against Niemann, even though Carlsen had no legitimate basis to believe Niemann actually cheated against him.”
In the end, the lawsuit says, experts have concluded that Carlsen lost the match because of his particularly poor play rather than any exceptional play by Niemann.