Chess Cheating Scandal

Kiefer Gould ’24

Contributor

In the world of chess, there is nothing worse than a cheater. They rig games to win money and fame, using computers to crush their opponent in ways never seen before. Cheaters are exceedingly rare in chess and unheard of at the top levels. This was not the case for Hans Nei-man, an American chess Grand Master who was recently accused of cheating by none other than the chess world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

Carlsen is the most dominant player in the world. He plays in a revolutionary style. That is why it came as a shock when Hans Neiman, a young Grand Master, not only beat Carlsen but absolutely demolished him.

Although unprecedented, no one expected that Neiman might have cheated. This was until Carlsen released a statement saying that he was planning to withdraw from the tournament because of alleged cheating. He went on to say he believed “someone” was cheating not only because they won in such a dominant fashion, but also because they seemed completely calm in the most complex positions and at the most important moments of the game. He never specifically said that Neiman cheated but everyone knew whom Carlsen was referring to.

 This accusation led to a large-scale investigation into Neiman. They looked at all his online games and his surprisingly rapid rise to greatness. It was discovered that Neiman increased his rating significantly faster than anyone before him, including Carlsen! It was also uncovered that seven years prior, Neiman was confirmed to have cheated in an online chess tournament and again two years later. Neiman explained himself saying that it was a mistake and that he only did it to increase his rating to play at higher levels.

However, these discoveries prompted the question: if he had already cheated twice in his life, was it possible for him to have done it again?

As it turns out, the answer is yes. Around one month after Neiman was accused of cheating, chess.com—the largest chess website on the planet—released an article that confirmed that Neiman cheated in at least 100 more games than he led the world to believe. In one of them, he won thousands of dollars. This article released by chess.com shows that everything Neiman said in his apology was fake. He did not only cheat to increase his rating: he won money from his dubious ways.

Although this is horrible, there is still no proof that Neiman cheated on the board against Carlsen because no one caught him in the act. It is not even known how Neiman may have cheated. We may never know whether Hans Neiman cheated in this game, but with the statistics and evidence from the past, it is likely that those unscrupulous actions might have been the case.

Photo credit: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club

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