Chess.com Probe: Niemann's Cheating Was Likely Rampant

Investigation finds grandmaster likely cheated in 100+ games, including some for prize money
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2022 1:24 AM CDT
Chess.com Probe: Hans Moke Niemann Likely Cheated in 100+ Games
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / marchmeena29)

Chess.com carried out an internal investigation into Hans Moke Niemann, and the Wall Street Journal reports that the probe, which the newspaper reviewed, reveals far more extensive cheating than the American grandmaster has admitted. Niemann, whose alleged cheating started making big waves in the chess world after he beat the game's world champion, admits he cheated at ages 12 and 16 in online games—but according to the Chess.com investigation, the now-19-year-old "likely cheated" in more than 100 online games, including some for prize money.

The probe did not reach any conclusions on over-the-board games, but it did note, "Outside his online play, Hans is the fastest rising top player in Classical chess in modern history. ... While we don’t doubt that Hans is a talented player, we note that his results are statistically extraordinary" and his rise includes "unusual patterns." The report states that Niemann privately admitted to the cheating uncovered by Chess.com and was banned from the site; as is typical for Chess.com, the 2020 report and subsequent ban were handled privately, but the site says it has decided to discuss the matter publicly since Niemann himself has recently questioned why he was banned from the Chess.com Global Championship.

The site's cheat detection system, which Niemann himself has said is the "best ... in the world," analyzes a player's past performance and strength profile; compares a player's moves to those recommended by chess engines; incorporates input from grandmaster fair play analysts; and monitors behavior such as opening new browser windows while playing, among other things. (Click for more from the report, including what it discovered about Niemann's "toggling between windows.")

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