American chess grandmaster Hans Niemann filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against world champion Magnus Carlsen and others seeking $100 million in damages over cheating allegations that have rocked the chess world in recent weeks.
“My lawsuit speaks for itself,” Niemann, 19, tweeted Thursday, sharing a copy of the lawsuit.
In the suit, which was filed in the Eastern Missouri District Court, Niemann, alleged that Carlsen, Chess.com and its chief chess officer, and chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura have been “egregiously defaming him and unlawfully colluding to blacklist him from the profession to which he has dedicated his life.”
The chess player is suing for slander and libel, accusing the defendants in his lawsuit of causing “devastating damages.”
Niemann, Carlsen, Nakamura and Chess.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News.
The lawsuit comes weeks after Carlsen, 31, first accused Niemann of cheating after the two chess players competed at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis on Sept. 4.
Carlsen had bowed out of the event after describing his opponent’s progress as “unusual” and suggesting that he wasn’t “fully concentrating on the game” when Niemann defeated him.
In a 72-page report released earlier this month, Chess.com said that while there were “many remarkable signals and unusual patterns” in Niemann’s play, there was no evidence he cheated in the match against Carlsen and no “direct evidence” proving he cheated in other over-the-board, or in-person, games in the past.
However, the report concluded that Niemann had likely cheated in more than 100 online games, saying that while his performance in some matches “may seem to be within the realm of some statistical possibility, the probability of any single player performing this well across this many games is incredibly low.” In his lawsuit, Niemann branded the report defamatory.
He has repeatedly defended himself since the incident. After defeating Christopher Yoo in the first round of the 2022 U.S. Championship in St. Louis earlier this month, he was asked to address the “elephant in the room” during a post-game interview with the Saint Louis Chess Club.
“This game is a message to everyone,” he said in his first public comments since Chess.com released its report. “This entire thing started with me saying, ‘Chess speaks for itself,’ and I think this game spoke for itself and showed the chess player that I am.”
Niemann said it “also showed I’m not going to back down and I’m going to play my best chess here regardless of the pressure that I am under and that’s all I have to say about this game. And you know, ‘Chess speaks for itself.’ That’s all I can say.”
Tim Stelloh contributed.