Hans Niemann says cheating online was the biggest mistake of his life after the world champion left the tournament
Rising chess star Hans Niemann has admitted to cheating online chess in the past as he dismissed all suggestions that he used computer support in a major tournament.
The American made an impassioned statement during an interview with St Louis Chess Club commentator Alejandro Ramírez after allegations circulated on social media.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen stunned the chess world yesterday when he suddenly withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup following his surprise loss to Niemann with the white pieces.
Niemann had come armed with engine prep for a staggered line played by Carlsen and smashed it in a finish, a rare feat for any player, especially one rated in the 2600s.
Carlsen did not explain the reason for his withdrawal, the first of his career, other than a cryptic message on Twitter, “I have withdrawn from the tournament. I’ve always enjoyed playing @STLChessClub and hope to be back in the future.
He posted a clip of Jose Mourinho saying: “If I talk I’ll be in big trouble.”
The post led to a lot of speculation, including from US grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura – who covered the tournament live on his Twitch channel.
Nakamura said he believed Carlsen was referring to Niemann cheating in the tweet.
There were also suggestions on social media that someone in Carlsen’s camp had leaked his closely watched opening preparation.
Carlsen, who stunned the chess community this year by announcing he would not defend his crown, did not directly make any allegations or comment on the speculation.
Niemann admits to cheating online
Niemann, 19, came out firing today in a post-match interview after social media caught fire.
Addressing the swirling drama, Niemann said he cheated in an online tournament aged 12 after a friend brought him an iPad with a chess engine and told him which moves to play.
“I was just a kid,” Niemann said. “I’ve never cheated in my life in a game overboard. I’m proud of myself that I learned from my mistake.
“I gave everything at chess.”
He also admitted to cheating at other times on the chess.com website.
“I wanted to gain some ranking so I could play against stronger players, so I cheated in random games on chess.com.
“I was confronted and I confessed. It was the biggest mistake of my life and I am completely ashamed.
He reiterated that he had never cheated in out-of-game chess and had never cheated in a tournament with prize money, other than when he was 12.
He also offered to go to great lengths to prove he wasn’t cheating.
“If they want me to completely undress, I will,” Niemann said. “I don’t care. Because I know I’m clean. You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. I’m here to win and that’s my goal regardless.
Niemann said there were “a few innuendos” in Carlsen’s tweet and “everyone started piling on [on]”.
Niemann said he had seen thousands of tweets and “everyone is attacking me”.
“I’m the only person who knows what’s going on and I’m telling you, it’s the truth,” he said.
He also addressed Nakamura, saying he had never cheated on him in an online game.
Niemann said he received an email from chess.com informing him that he had been completely removed from the website.
He later wrote on Twitter, “Hikaru really enjoyed watching all my interviews and enjoyed critiquing every detail…I would love to see him watch my entire interview today and see what he has to say.”
In the interview, he also touched on comments about his “strange” American accent, noting that he lived out of a suitcase for years and had many acquaintances who don’t speak English as their first language.
Originally published as Hans Niemann admits cheating online in past, denies pay-per-view chess computer support