In Defense of GM Hans Niemann
I prefer to believe the best in people when possible.

In Defense of GM Hans Niemann

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"I was astonished by his memory. I was astonished by his intuition. Both were off the charts for what I have seen training Shankland, Gelfand, other 2600+, and a few 2700s." - GM Jacob Aagaard

Hans Niemann is clearly on the rise. He has gained 250+ FIDE points in a relatively short period of time and is now one of the world's elite. While I'm not qualified to judge his chess without a more comprehensive analysis, I would like to share my biased perspective in support of Hans.

I'm on the lookout for inspirational adult improvers and mentally compare their progress to thousands of rating graphs to compare training methods and gauge what is possible. I suspect that Hans Niemann's recent progress is legitimate and inspirational, similar to Sam Shankland.

When I talked with Hans last year at the World Open, his passion for chess and extreme work ethic were very clear to me. Our discussion gives me more reason to support Hans and believe his rapid improvement is legitimate. First, Hans was friendly with me and my friend Joseph Truelson - this gives me a personal bias in his favor. That said, my reasons for believing Hans are not only personal - the training methods Hans discussed were consistent with my observations and theories regarding adult improvement based on empirical research by David Milliern.

Hans Niemann is extremely competitive, which likely motivated his rise to the top. 10,000+ puzzle rush attempts just to break the high score?! Even when Hans was ~2550 FIDE, his progress didn't surprise me because his blitz was already 3000+ as a mid-IM, showing potential to reach 2600+ FIDE without further blitz improvement - judging by many rating graphs and building on David Milliern's ideas. One of the main challenges for adult improvement is developing pattern recognition and intuition, so it's a big help that Hans was already so strong at blitz when he entered adulthood. Considering that Hans started as a blitz specialist and only switched to slow training afterward, his rapid rise makes sense to me.

Click here for GM Jacob Aagaard's rebuttal. Many other GMs defended Hans Niemann as well.