American chess grandmaster Hans Niemann previously admitted to cheating twice in the past, but a new investigation reveals that he did it way more than that.
Conducted by Chess.com and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, a 72-page report alleges that the 19-year-old champion likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games, as recently as 2020. Those matches included contests in which prize money was awarded.
This goes against Niemann’s previous statements, that he cheated in his youth when he was just 12 and then again at 16 years old. However, the report claims that Niemann privately confessed to the allegations and was banned from the site for a period of time.
The investigation was not able to conclude if Niemann cheated in any in-person matches.
Chess.com uses a variety of cheat-detection tools which include analytics that compare moves to those recommended by chess engines which can beat even the greatest human chess players.
While Chess.com was not able to look into any of Niemann’s over-the-table or in-person matches, it did describe irregularities in his rise though the elite ranks of competitive chess.
The International Chess Federation, the chess’s world governing body, is meanwhile conducting its own investigation into his match against Magnus Carlsen in which Carlsen resigned after just one move, later reasoning that he suspected his opponent was cheating.
Still, the report highlighted “many remarkable signals and unusual patterns in Hans’ path as a player” which “merit further investigation based on the data.”
“Outside his online play, Hans is the fastest rising top player in Classical [over-the-board] chess in modern history,” the report states, according to WSJ. “Looking purely at rating, Hans should be classified as a member of this group of top young players. While we don’t doubt that Hans is a talented player, we note that his results are statistically extraordinary.”
One of Niemann’s coaches, grandmaster Maxim Dlugy, also admitted to cheating in two of his own online tournaments, according to emails released last week. In the first incident, the 56-year-old claimed he didn’t know he was cheating during the match but later found out that one of his students was watching and using chess AI to feed him moves.
Niemann has not addressed Carlsen’s cheating allegations nor Chess.com’s investigation at the time of publication.