In the third round of the prestigious Sinquefield Cup in September 2022, Magnus Carlsen - the current Chess World Champion - had the white pieces against Hans Niemann, the lowest rated player in the tournament. The result was shocking.

The favourite in this match was Carlsen, who at the time of the match was the highest rated player and was consistently winning tournament after tournament. However Niemann, whose rating had surged over the past couple years, was slowly but surely putting pressure on Carlsen throughout the game. Eventually, Carlsen succumbed and resigned in the endgame.

The result shook the chess world, but what followed was something that no one could have ever imagined. After the game, Carlsen withdrew from the tournament with a cryptic tweet as his justification.

In the weeks that followed, both players faced each other again, but this time in an online chess tournament, where Carlsen resigned after the first move. He then released a statement saying that he “strongly considered withdrawing” when Niemann was invited to the Sinquefield Cup and “[He believes] that Niemann has cheated more”. In an interview that followed Carlsen’s statement, Niemann said that, “I’ve never cheated in an over-the-board game other than when I was 12 years old.” In the same interview he admitted that he had cheated once in an online game.

After this, many strong grandmasters and chess organisations gave statements that suggested Niemann was cheating/has cheated more. For example, a report released by, which is the largest online chess platform in the world with over 95 million users, said that, “We present evidence in this report that Hans likely cheated online much more than his public statements suggest,” and it included a table with events that Niemann “likely cheated in”. However, the report also stated that “there is no direct evidence” that Niemann cheated against Magnus. “privately removed” Niemann from the platform.

Then, on the 20th of October, Niemann filed a lawsuit for $100 million against Magnus Carlsen, and other parties for defamation. There is still no conclusive evidence that Niemann had cheated against Carlsen and the investigation is still on.

It has been an exciting time in the chess world, especially given the popularity the game has gained since Covid lockdowns, where online free chess platforms such as saw a boom in the number of players signing up. However, this also meant that there was and continues to be a rise in online cheating. Luckily, due to anti-cheating software put in place on major chess platforms, many have been caught. closes an average 800 accounts a day for cheating using the aforementioned software. But there are some cases where it is more difficult to identify an offender. Cheating in over-the-board games is not new but it is rare. There have been numerous occasions where not only amateurs have cheated but strong grandmasters have done so too. However, almost every time the cheaters have been caught and FIDE (International Chess Federation) has banned them.

As for ‘Niemann v. Carlsen’, we’ll just have to wait and watch.