Is Hans Niemann Cheating?
Leave your thoughts on the controversy in the comments below.

Is Hans Niemann Cheating?

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As much of you have likely heard, GM Hans Niemann, a participant in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, has been accused of cheating which has likely led to Magnus Carlsen's withdrawal from the tournament. Although there are many mixed opinions about this situation, the only person who knows if Hans Niemann is cheating is simply Hans himself. In this blog, I'll be breaking down the timeline of the Hans Niemann cheating scandal and I'll add my thoughts at the end. 

Who is Hans Niemann?Before we can talk about the controversy, who is Hans Niemann? Hans Moke Niemann was born in San Francisco, CA on June 20th, 2003. When Hans was 11 years old he earned the National Master title. Hans started streaming around 2020, by then he was a 16-year-old IM who had a 3000 online blitz rating. Even before Hans became a Grandmaster he was an exceptional blitz player and competed with the top blitz players like Hikaru Nakamura, Alireza Firouzja, and Daniel Naroditsky.

Then in December of 2020, Hans achieved the Grandmaster title after much hard work and constantly traveling for tournaments. From then, Hans kept playing in tournaments such as the FIDE Grand Swiss, the U.S Open, and many more. His rating continued to grow, and going into the Sinquefield cup, was rated 2688 FIDE. 

Niemann vs. CarlsenAs black we have Hans Niemann, a 19-year-old, rated 2688, and then as white, we have Magnus Carlsen, the highest rated player of all time, the world champion, and arguably the GOAT. If you were to choose who would win in a chess game, you'd likely pick Magnus. Although this time, Hans shocked the world. He managed to upset Magnus and win the game.

What an upset, Hans Niemann managed to beat Magnus Carlsen, am I surprised? Yes. But am I THAT surprised? Not really. Hans Niemann had beat Magnus a few days before this game. Although after this game, Magnus Carlsen publicly posted an ominous tweet announcing his withdrawal from the tournament.After this tweet, chaos erupted. Even though Magnus Carlsen did not say why he withdrew, many began to speculate if Hans had cheated. One of those people is Hikaru Nakamura, Hikaru began to point out many details and things he found odd about Hans that may be proof that Hans is cheating. Although these were just speculations, there was no actual concrete proof that Hans had cheated. 

The Interviews

The two main red flags that both Hikaru and Nardotisky pointed out were the fact that Hans has a history of cheating online and his suspicious interviews. The fact is, and Hans admits this, that he cheated twice online in the past. Once when he was 12, and the other time he was 16. Although Hans has admitted this and said that he has learned from his mistakes. The reason for cheating was so he could play against stronger players. He reflects on this and states "This is the single biggest mistake of my life and I'm completely ashamed.". 

The second factor is his interviews, in many of Hans's interviews, he was unsure of the moves and made simple mistakes like hanging a free piece while analyzing his game against Firouzja. He was asking what the engine was saying, and many things didn't add up. Especially when he claimed that in his preparation against Magnus, he saw a line that Magnus played against Wesley So but that game was not found in the database. Hans later went on to explain that it was a transposition and that after the games he was tired and could not think properly during the interview.

The Arbiter's Statement

The Saint Louis Chess Club posted a statement regarding the situation, and stated "No indication that any player has been playing unfairly in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup.". Does this mean that Hans Niemann didn't cheat against Magnus? Not entirely. Although it proves that for the time being, Hans Niemann has been proven innocent and everyone who has accused Hans of cheating, looks silly. 

My Thoughts

From the beginning, I have always doubted that Hans cheated. I find it extremely unrealistic that Hans has somehow figured out a way to cheat. I don't know how he could do it, the Saint Louis Chess Club scans every player, analyzes the game for fair play, and even scanned the tournament hall for radio frequency. I don't think it is fair to accuse Hans of cheating for beating Magnus Carlsen, if we have seen players near Han's rating also beat Magnus, such as Andrey Esipenko.

What I don't understand is, why is the chess community against Hans? If they have no concrete evidence that Hans is cheating, then why are we trying to "read between the lines" and make accusations? The fact that the Saint Louis Chess Club have found no indication that Hans is cheating, already proves his innocence for the time being. What we can say though, is that Hans Niemann's chess, speaks for itself. Thank you for reading, and as always, see you next time.

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