The American teen chess sensation at the forefront of a cheating scandal in the sport was accused of cheating dozens of more times than he previously admitted.
Hans Niemann had been accused in recent weeks of cheating during matches. The accusations came to a fever pitch when Magnus Carlsen, one of the world’s best chess players, withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup after losing to Niemann and later resigning from an online match against him after one move during the preliminary round of the Julius Baer Generation Cup.
Niemann, 19, said he cheated at an event when he was 12 and again in "random games" at 16. He’s said he never cheated during a livestreamed game. As unsavory accusations arose about how Niemann may have cheated, he still managed to compete in the Generation Cup — an event that Carlsen ultimately won.
On Monday, Niemann was found to have cheated more than he previously admitted.
Chess.com — an online platform in which anyone could play the game and study the rules and strategy — shared a report of their investigation with the Wall Street Journal. The report indicated that Niemann "likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games" and as recently as 2020.
Some of the matches Niemann was accused to have cheated in involved prize money. Niemann reportedly admitted to the allegations and was banned from Chess.com for a period of time.
Chess.com didn’t say whether Niemann had cheated in over-the-board contests. The website has cheating-detection tools and hasn’t been involved with any type of cheating detection for over-the-board games, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Niemann hasn’t responded to the latest report. He addressed cheating accusations with the Chess Club last month.
"I have never cheated in an over-the-board game. That is the worst thing I could do — cheat in a tournament with prize money," he said via KSDK-TV. "You know my dream came true. I lived my dream for a day beating Magnus, and then all of this happened."
Carlsen flatly accused Niemann of cheating in a statement last week.
Norway's Magnus Carlsen competes during his Round 10 game against the Moldova's team at the 44th Chess Olympiad 2022, in Mahabalipuram on August 8, 2022. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)
"I believe that Niemann has cheated more — and more recently — than he publicly admitted. His over the board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully concentrating on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do. This game contributed to changing my perspective," he said in a statement.
Chess.com has a business relationship with Carlsen, according to the report. The website is reportedly in the process of buying Carlsen’s "Play Magnus" app for about $83 million.
According to the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Carlsen is the top player in the world with a 2856 rating. Niemann is ranked 40th with a 2699 rating. He became a grandmaster at 17, and with his rate of play, Chess.com reportedly described his growth as "uncharacteristically erratic."
FIDE swiped at Carlsen last month for resigning after one move but vowed to eradicate cheating from the sport.
"At the same time, we share his deep concerns about the damage that cheating brings to chess," the organization said. "FIDE has led the fight against cheating for many years, and we reiterate our zero-tolerance policy toward cheating in any form. Whether it is online or ‘over the board’, cheating remains cheating. We are strongly committed to this fight, and we have invested in forming a group of specialists to devise sophisticated preventive measures that already apply at top FIDE events."
FIDE later said a panel would look into Carlsen's accusations.