GM Hans Niemann has launched a slander action for at least $100 million against GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Hikaru Nakamura, Chess.com, the Play Magnus Group, and IM Danny Rensch. The lawsuit is the latest development in the chess cheating scandal, which has received extensive media coverage since early September.
On Thursday, October 20 in the Eastern Missouri District Court, 19-year-old Niemann filed his federal lawsuit (here in PDF) and made the entire 44-page record publicly available via a tweet.
Niemann is bringing claims for slander, libel, illegal group boycott under the Sherman Act, tortious interference with contract and commercial expectations, and civil conspiracy against all five defendants. There is a minimum claim of $100 million for each cause of action.
According to Niemann, the situation has resulted in “devastating damages” since Carlsen, Nakamura, Chess.com, Play Magnus Group, and Rensch have been “egregiously defaming him and unlawfully cooperating to blacklist him from the profession to which he has committed his life.”
Niemann asserts in the case that he is no longer able to get work as a chess teacher at a respectable institution. Additionally, he discloses that talks with the Tata Steel Chess Tournament were unexpectedly terminated and that a match with the young German grandmaster Vincent Keymer was postponed.
The Wijk aan Zee competition sent the following comment to Chess.com: “The organisation and players have a number of formal and informal contacts throughout the year that are started by both parties. Nobody is certain they will take part.”
Chess.com has released the following legal declaration in response to multiple media requests:
Latham & Watkins, LLP’s Nima Mohebbi and Jamie Wine have made a statement.
We regret Hans Niemann’s choice to file a lawsuit against Chess.com. We think that his lawsuit is detrimental to the game of chess and its ardent followers and players everywhere.
Chess.com is proud of its standing both within the chess community and outside of it, and it will continue to stand up for the game, the players, and its objective to develop and safeguard online chess.
After the Sinquefield Cup, Hans officially admitted to online cheating, and the backlash that followed is entirely his fault. Chess.com had previously dealt with Hans’ prior cheating secretly, as noted in its October 2022 report, and was only compelled to clarify their position after he spoke out publicly.
Hans’ claims are unfounded, and Chess.com is eager to clear the air on behalf of its staff and all sincere chess players.
Online, both attorneys and non-lawyers have thoroughly examined the file. The most thorough popular analysis to date is given in a lengthy Twitter thread by Akiva Cohen, a litigator at Kamerman, Uncyk, Soniker & Klein in New York. Cohen identifies a number of obstacles Niemann must overcome, including showing actual malice and jurisdiction.
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