Who is Hans Niemann, the controversial teen chess grandmaster – and did he really cheat against world champion Magnus Carlsen? Inside the 19-year-old’s rise to notoriety
An intriguing controversy recently rocked the mind-boggling world of chess. First, world champion Magnus Carlsen accused fast-rising grandmaster Hans Niemann of cheating in their showdown at the 2022 Sinquefield Cup earlier this month. Then Carlsen withdrew from his Julius Baer Generation Cup game against Niemann after one move – igniting speculations even further.
Let’s get to know Niemann, the 19-year-old underdog who has earned the ire of Carlsen, the 31-year-old grandmaster that many consider the greatest chess player of all time.
He’s a chess whizz who became teenage champion
Niemann is an American chess prodigy who has been rising up the ranks as a teenager. Currently one of the top 50 players in the world, the young grandmaster earned the highest title in chess at just 17 years old.
In July 2021, Niemann became a household name when he bagged the US Junior Championship. He also nabbed a ticket to the 2022 US Chess Championship, which is happening next month.
The underdog who broke Magnus Carlsen’s impressive unbeaten streak
This September, the upstart Niemann shocked the world when he defeated No 1 ranked Carlsen in an over-the-board match. The feat was deemed even more impressive as Niemann was playing as black when he took down the Norwegian grandmaster. In an even more surprising turn of events, Carlsen immediately withdrew from the tournament the day after.
The teenager’s win ended Carlsen’s 53-game unbeaten streak.
Then he was publicly called out for alleged cheating during the match
After the Sinquefield and Julius Baer Cup fiascos, the reigning world champion released a lengthy statement calling out Niemann’s supposed unusual board progress and questionable demeanour during their match. “I believe that Niemann has cheated more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted,” he said.
According to Yahoo!, cheating in a game of chess can be very difficult without access to a computer, and it may be even trickier when playing in person. Speculations went through the roof with what evidence the older player could produce that is younger combatant was cheating.
Insider reported that there were even bizarre rumours of Niemann using wireless anal beads to dictate his next moves depending on the vibration. Naturally, he’s denied these allegations. But …
Niemann has previously admitted to cheating in online chess games
This is not the first time Niemann’s name got dragged into a cheating scandal. Chess.com confirmed that the young grandmaster had admitted to cheating twice on its site when he was 12 and 16 years old.
According to The Guardian, Niemann called the cheating the single biggest mistake of his life. “I have never cheated in an over-the-board game. And other than when I was 12 years old, I have never cheated in a tournament with prize money,” he explained.
Niemann has reportedly been banned from the popular site and its events.
He is moving forward from the accusations and spends time as a chess streamer
Despite the ongoing allegations, Niemann continues to amass viewers on his streaming platform. The controversial player now has more than 59,000 followers on his Twitch channel.
In a recent interview with Chess24 about the controversy with Carlsen, Niemann remained unfazed. “I can come to the game. I can completely strip, [if] you want to do any fair play check to me … I don’t care because I know that I’m clean,” he said.
- Drama has rocked the world of competitive chess, with world No 1 Carlsen dropping out of 2022’s Sinquefield Cup and Julius Baer Generation Cup after Niemann broke his 53-game winning streak
- Now a popular Twitch streamer, Niemann admitted that he cheated on Chess.com at ages 12 and 16, but denies Carlsen’s claims – and that bizarre sex toy rumour