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Hans Niemann Files $100 Million Defamation Lawsuit
Hans Niemann. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Hans Niemann Files $100 Million Defamation Lawsuit

PeterDoggers
| 906 | Chess Players

GM Hans Niemann has filed a defamation lawsuit against GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Hikaru Nakamura, Chess.com, the Play Magnus Group, and IM Danny Rensch, seeking at least $100 million in damages. The lawsuit is the next episode in the chess cheating scandal that has been reported widely upon in mainstream media since early September. 

19-year-old Niemann filed his federal lawsuit (here in PDF) on Thursday, October 20 in the Eastern Missouri District Court and made the full, 44-page document available himself in a tweet:

Against all five entities, Niemann is claiming slander, libel, unlawful group boycott under the Sherman Act, tortious interference with contract and business expectancies, and civil conspiracy. For each cause of action, at least $100 million is claimed.

Niemann states that Carlsen, Nakamura, Chess.com, Play Magnus Group, and Rensch have been "egregiously defaming him and unlawfully colluding to blacklist him from the profession to which he has dedicated his life," and that the whole situation has caused "devastating damages."

In the lawsuit, Niemann claims that he "cannot obtain employment as a chess teacher at a reputable school" anymore. He also reveals that a scheduled match with the young German grandmaster Vincent Keymer got canceled and that negotiations with the Tata Steel Chess Tournament were abruptly ended.

In a statement, the Wijk aan Zee tournament wrote to Chess.com:

"Throughout the year there are several formal and informal conversations between the organization and players, initiated from both sides. No one is sure of participation."

In response to several media requests, Chess.com has provided the following statement from its lawyers:

Statement from Nima Mohebbi and Jamie Wine of Latham & Watkins, LLP

We are saddened by Hans Niemann’s decision to take legal action against Chess.com. We believe his lawsuit hurts the game of chess and its devoted players and fans around the world.

Chess.com is proud of its reputation within the chess community and beyond, and will always defend the game, the players, and their mission of both growing and protecting online chess.

Hans confessed publicly to cheating online in the wake of the Sinquefield Cup, and the resulting fallout is of his own making. As stated in its October 2022 report, Chess.com had historically dealt with Hans’ prior cheating privately, and was forced to clarify its position only after he spoke out publicly.

There is no merit to Hans’ allegations, and Chess.com looks forward to setting the record straight on behalf of its team and all honest chess players.

Lawyers and non-lawyers online have already analyzed the filing in depth. The most robust popular analysis so far is provided in an extensive Twitter thread by Akiva Cohen, a litigator at Kamerman, Uncyk, Soniker & Klein in New York, who highlights various challenges for Niemann to overcome including jurisdiction and proving actual malice.

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