Niemann Compares Himself To Fischer After Winning Tournament By 3 Points
Hans Niemann wins the Tournament of Peace. Photo: European Chess Union.

Niemann Compares Himself To Fischer After Winning Tournament By 3 Points

| 128 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Hans Niemann won the historic Tournament of Peace 2023 in Zagreb on Thursday by a massive three-point margin ahead of the field. With a 2946 performance rating, the 20-year-old American player scored 8/9, winning seven and drawing two games against all-grandmaster opposition. 

He won the tournament with a round to spare, but still checkmated top-seed GM Anton Korobov in the last round. Niemann, who compared his result to the American World Champion Bobby Fischer in two X-posts, soared to a 2693.7 live rating. He will play his next over-the-board tournament the very next day, the London Chess Classic 2023.

Tournament Of Peace 2023 Final Standings

'Attempting the Great and the Impossible': Niemann Evokes Fischer's Legacy

With this tournament victory, Niemann achieved the highest rating performance in the year 2023 so far.

Highest TPR In 2023 | Top 10

Tournament Player Rating # Games Score Performance
Tournament of Peace 2023 Niemann, Hans Moke 2659 9 89% 2946
Druzynowe Mistrzostwa Polski - Ekstraliga 2023 Bartel, Mateusz 2621 9 89% 2933
Sinquefield Cup 2023 Caruana, Fabiano 2795 8 69% 2892
Norway Chess 2023 Nakamura, Hikaru 2775 9 67% 2878
FIDE Grand Swiss 2023 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2716 11 77% 2876
FIDE Grand Swiss 2023 Nakamura, Hikaru 2780 11 73% 2857
FIDE World Cup 2023 Carlsen, Magnus 2835 14 75% 2854
GM Tournament Biel 2023 Le, Quang Liem 2728 7 71% 2853
Sinquefield Cup 2023 Dominguez, Leinier 2745 8 63% 2852

*Only tournaments with seven games or more are counted above. Edited on 12/1/2023: The table has been updated to include the Sinquefield Cup, which finished after this article was published.

By round seven, Niemann won all of his games except one and quoted Fischer in the following X-post. Fischer was famous for unimaginable streaks of his own, for example his 11/11 score at the 1964 U.S. Championship, or his 20-game winning streak in world championship qualifying events from 1970-1971. 

When asked, "Where's the greatest pleasure [in chess], what would correspond to hitting the home run in baseball?" Fischer famously responded: "When you break his ego."

After finishing the tournament two days later, Niemann posted the following, alluding to the American champion's legacy once again, as well as the tournament's long history.

The Zagreb tournament dates back to 1965, and Fischer participated for the first time and won in its second edition in 1970. In 2023, this was the seventh edition of the tournament, 53 years later.

Tournament of Peace 1970 Crosstable. Image: Official tournament website.

Although Niemann was the only American player in this year's tournament, times are a little different than they were in Fischer's era. 

Four of the world's top-10 represent the U.S. flag—two of them are already in the 2024 Candidates Tournament. On Wednesday, GM Maurice Ashley pointed out that we can potentially see four American players in this year's Candidates—which would be half the field of eight. At the 2022 Chess Olympiad, in addition, the U.S. was the highest-rated national team.

Community Reactions

The impressive tournament victory has sparked several reactions from the chess community.

The first one shared below was by GM Ivan Sokolov, who lost to Niemann in round seven. 

Speaking to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten after round seven, the Secretary of the Zagreb Chess Federation, which organized the tournament, Kresimir Podravec said: "Niemann's performance is out of this world, but we have no definite proof that he is cheating. We have some indications, but we don't know if anyone wants to report him."

He also mentioned that there was a 15-minute delay enforced for the broadcast of games, which was increased to a 30-minute delay, and then even to an hour after round seven.

Edited on 12/1/2023: The following reactions were posted after this article was published and have now been added.

GM Alexander Motylev, who lost against Niemann in round one, posted the following on Facebook.

Niemann’s attorney, Terrence A. Oved of Oved & Oved LLP, said in a statement to Forbes Betting: “Despite the overwhelming proof of Hans’ extraordinary talents, there will always be haters. Our advice to them is simple: Get used to it. Hans is just getting started.”

25-Move Barn-Burner In Round 6

Niemann's shortest win was in round six against GM Ivan Cheparinov. He won in 25 moves with the black pieces with a stunning bishop sacrifice that opened the dark squares for two hungry knights and a queen.

If we may permit ourselves to make yet another Fischer reference, the thematic sacrifice on f2 followed by a ...Ng4+ to ...Ne3 maneuver may loosely remind some readers of the following game from the 1963-64 U.S. Championship, where the future world champion won all 11 games.

After this game, Cheparinov posted the following on Facebook:

Edited on 12/1/2023: Cheparinov posted this follow-up the next day.

Niemann's all-time high rating was 2708 in May 2023. His most significant recent tournaments were the World Junior Championship in Mexico City at the end of September, where he finished a point behind the winner, and the FIDE Grand Swiss, where he finished on 6/11. He has mostly been playing in open tournaments.

This is the closest the American grandmaster has been to 2700 since dropping below. In about 24 hours, his next tournament in London will determine further rating changes in the last month of the year. He plays GM Jules Moussard with Black in the first round and will face GM Gukesh Dommaraju with White in the last.

He will also participate in the Tata Steel Chess Challengers 2024 in January.

How to review?
You can review the games from the Tournament of Peace 2023 on our events page here.

The Tournament of Peace 2023 took place November 22-30, 2023, in Zagreb, Croatia. The format was a 10-player round-robin. The time control was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment from move one.

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