Chess Player Accused of Cheating in St. Louis Sues for $100 Million

Hans Niemann, man at the center of anal beads cheating conspiracy theory, sues for defamation

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click to enlarge Hans Niemann was sort of accused of cheating at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis. - SCREENGRAB
Hans Niemann was sort of accused of cheating at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis.

The chess cheating scandal that started here in St. Louis but has made headlines across the globe has now led to a $100 million lawsuit.

Today in federal court in St. Louis, 19-year-old professional chess player Hans Niemann filed a lawsuit against Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, 31, seeking $100 million in damages.

The lawsuit accuses Carlsen of slander, libel and civil conspiracy, among other things.

The lawsuit has its origins in a chess match that happened in St. Louis during the Sinquefield Cup, one of the longest-running chess tournaments in the United States.

Niemann played Carlsen on September 4 in round three of the cup. It shocked the chess world then when Niemann bested the grandmaster. Vice called this "an upset for the ages."

But soon thereafter Carlsen withdrew from the tournament and posted a cryptic tweet that many in the chess world interpreted as Carlsen accusing Niemann of having cheated.

The lawsuit filed today says when Niemann won the match that Carlsen "notorious for his inability to cope with defeat ... snapped."

In addition to being a chess grandmaster, Carlsen also created the Play Magnus online chess company, which was purchased by for $83 million. Niemann's suit says that Carlsen's accusations of cheating were all about protecting that brand.

"Enraged that the young Niemann, fully 12 years his junior, dared to disrespect the 'King of Chess,' and fearful that the young prodigy would further blemish his multi-million dollar brand by beating him again, Carlsen viciously and maliciously retaliated against Niemann by falsely accusing Niemann, without any evidence, of somehow cheating during their in-person game," the lawsuit reads.

The 44-page court filing continues, "Carlsen unleashed his media empire to fan the flames of Carlsen’s cheating accusations, drown out the legitimate evidence refuting them, blacklist Niemann from top-level chess tournaments, and protect, at any cost, his eponymous Play Magnus brand and status as 'King of Chess.'"

In the initial days after the September 4 match, the talk of cheating surrounding it took on a life of its own online.

The notion that Niemann may have been communicating with a chess engine morphed into a theory that he may have been doing so via vibrating shoes.

With the help of Space-X CEO Elon Musk, a theory took hold that instead of vibrating shoes Niemann may have had vibrating anal beads in his person during the match.

The suit filed on Niemann's behalf repeatedly uses phrases like "there is no evidence," "without any evidence" and "drown out the legitimate evidence."

Niemann says that the behavior of Carlsen and the other defendants has caused him "devastating damages ... by egregiously defaming him and unlawfully colluding to blacklist him from the profession to which he has dedicated his life.

Niemann is also suing executive Danny Rensch and chess streamer Hikaru Nakamura.

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About The Author

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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