Aftermath of Niemann/ agreement

One week ago, released a statement announcing the reinstatement of Hans Niemann on and an end to the legal dispute that gripped the chess world for the past year. The revelation raises some questions about how the matter unfolded and whether there was an out-of-court settlement. However, the terms of the agreement were undisclosed. Niemann has already returned to competing in events.

GM Hans Moke Niemann
Photo by Lennart Ootes

Here is the statement posted on the main news cycle of

“ Concludes Legal Dispute With Hans Niemann, Niemann To Return To” and Hans Niemann have resolved their differences and are moving forward.

As many readers will be aware, and Niemann, as well as Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, have been engaged in a lawsuit over the past year after Niemann defeated Carlsen in September at the Sinquefield Cup, and Carlsen withdrew from that event. Shortly after those events, privately closed Niemann’s account and published an investigative report about Hans Niemann’s play.

Since June, both sides have negotiated privately in a good-faith effort to resolve their issues and allow the chess world to move forward without further litigation. We are happy to share that all sides have reached an agreement.


How Does Fare?

Frankly, it was in the best interests of to avoid any further legal proceedings where they would essentially have to open themselves to further scrutiny and perhaps reveal their important list of cheating offenders and other sensitive data. The “discovery” process most likely would have created very uncomfortable scenarios for the, as a chess entity. is still the premier chess platform and has in its portfolio several companies and a team of associates/streamers who create tremendous value for its brand. The premier chess platform is trying to ride a wave of growth during the rise of a new generation of players. This agreement will certainly undo some of the damage some may have felt against the company’s handling of the matter.

We are pleased to report that we have reached an agreement with Hans Niemann to put our differences behind us and move forward together without further litigation. At this time, Hans has been fully reinstated to, and we look forward to his participation in our events. We would also like to reaffirm that we stand by the findings in our October 2022 public report regarding Hans, including that we found no determinative evidence that he has cheated in any in-person games. We all love chess and appreciate all of the passionate fans and community members who allow us to do what we do.



That being said, this was a very good move for It presented an olive branch, would put Niemann in a position to repair his damaged reputation, and would allow him access to tournaments with top competition. However, the sad reality is that Hans will never fully repair his image as the search references to cheating and the millions of comments will circulate in social media for an eternity.

How Does Magnus Carlsen Fare?

The timing was a strategic one as Carlsen is coming off of a World Cup win and his legacy is beginning to take form. It may be the best possible time for him to reconcile with Niemann. Of course, the negotiations had been ongoing before Carlsen scored a historic win in Baku, but it marks the end of an episode where there was a bit of brand erosion over the saga.

While his loyalists defended him fiercely, there were some fans who were conflicted about Carlsen’s inability to show any evidence of cheating in the Sinquefield game. There were also his enthusiastic detractors who saw this as a case of a bruised ego from Niemann’s trash-talking after both wins (i.e., FTX and Sinquefield).

In the next round, Magnus Carlsen and Hans Niemann square off at the 2022 Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo by Crystal Fuller

The next Carlsen-Niemann matchup will be epic.
Photo by Crystal Fuller

One can debate whether Carlsen really felt Niemann cheated in that game, but his recent statement essentially absolved Niemann of any wrongdoing. This was a sigh of relief for many who wanted to see some type of resolution. Apart from a singular statement about a report, FIDE had little to say about the historic scandal. Nevertheless, this scandal has allowed FIDE a chance to make a cautionary plea about cheating and false accusations.

One day we will find out what Carlsen was thinking throughout this saga and whether he realized his protest and tweet would create such a firestorm. He no doubt saw some of the millions of comments on social media and probably felt some responsibility to make a definitive statement.

“I acknowledge and understand’s report, including its statement that there is no determinative evidence that Niemann cheated in his game against me at the Sinquefield Cup. I am willing to play Niemann in future events, should we be paired together.”

~Magnus Carlsen

The statement is interesting because had no involvement with the Sinquefield Cup, yet Carlsen is relying on their investigation as a confirmation. The organizers at the St. Louis Chess Club had already released a statement that there was nothing suspicious on that day. That being said, it is a good thing that Carlsen has decided to agree in principle that no cheating took place in that game. He has decided to play Niemann in future events which would certainly draw quite a bit of viewer interest whenever it happens.

How Does Hikaru Nakamura Fare?

Hikaru Nakamura was the first one to mention the word “cheating” in the aftermath of Carlsen’s withdrawal from the Sinquefield Cup and the infamous tweet that indicated Niemann may have been cheating. Unlike many, Nakamura understood the Jose’ Mourinho reference and mentioned on a stream that “Magnus believes that Hans is cheating.”

Video by Hikaru Nakamura (Twitch)

Once that statement was uttered, a firestorm was ignited and every theory was proffered for Niemann beating Carlsen. Some of the theories ranged from someone in the Carlsen camp leaking prep to the theory of sex toys being used to transmit moves to Niemann. The running joke started on Eric Hansen’s stream and turned into such a viral sensation that news organizations thought the idea was real! Elon Musk actually tweeted about it and it ended up on the Trevor Noah show.

Nakamura posted about the controversy on his daily streams, ridiculed Hans’ postgame analysis, poured through Hans’ actual games, and even featured statistical analyses to show possible irregularities (i.e., Yosha Iglesias). With tens of thousands of viewers watching his streams, Nakamura became one of the main sources on the Carlsen-Niemann controversy. Niemann claimed that Nakamura was financially benefiting from the controversy with his streams.

Ultimately, Nakamura was named in the $100 million dollar defamation suit. Niemann alleged that Nakamura colluded with Carlsen and to blacklist him from tournaments. That anti-trust suit was thrown out in federal court. After the story broke on the recent agreement, Nakamura noted that he did not make a statement. Appearing a bit agitated, he told his Twitch audience, “I felt like I got dragged into this.”

Video by Hikaru Nakamura (YouTube)

Why would Nakamura mention Niemann’s rating decline? Nakamura left it open to interpretation by saying, “whatever the reason.” In the context of the scandal, it can be construed that Niemann’s rating dropped because he was under greater scrutiny. Admittedly, the lower rating could be due to tremendous social pressure due to the negative media attention, a complicated legal case, scrutiny over every detail of his life, and his diet of open tournaments. Hans gave his own reasons for his rating decline.

Video by Han Niemann (Twitch)

All of this being said, Nakamura’s positioning in this agreement is unclear. Reddit is certainly on fire about Nakamura’s video on the agreement, but an official statement was not included in the announcement. Are there any other legal loose ends? That much is not known, but Nakamura is still posting videos on Hans’ games including his return to Titled Tuesday.

It remains to be seen if Nakamura and Niemann have reached any type of personal accord. However, Nakamura also expressed relief. “It’s good that it is behind us. A lot of things that were spawned out of this were very negative and definitely reflected very poorly on chess as a whole.”

How Does Hans Niemann Fare?

Niemann is obviously relieved that this ordeal has ended. He can begin to work on his chess less of a buzz of accusation swirling over his head. He remains optimistic.

“I am pleased that my lawsuit against Magnus Carlsen and has been resolved in a mutually acceptable manner, and that I am returning to I look forward to competing against Magnus in chess rather than in court and am grateful to my attorneys at Oved & Oved for believing in me and helping me resolve the case.” 

~Hans Niemann

Poised to refile in an appropriate jurisdiction, it would have been a complicated battle, but it is possible that Niemann could have proved that he suffered damages both personally and financially. He certainly suffered damage to his reputation as a competitor and it still lingers. The story made national headlines and the late show circuit. While these stories will remain a matter of record, the recent announcement of an agreement between the parties could mark an opportunity for Hans to prove himself and leverage his profile. Here is his video statement to the public.

As mentioned, there has been some note of his Elo dropping 40 points since the scandal, but for someone to have endured such a media onslaught, it is a wonder that he did not lose 100 Elo points. In fact, Niemann has continued to play consistently and win tournaments. However, his rating loss has come from an occasional nick from a lower-rated player. Despite good results, he has also lost Elo in the piranha-infested open tournaments common in the U.S.

While Niemann has made a couple of statements about his reinstatement, he is certainly motivated to prove himself. The rehabilitation of his image has begun after millions of comments (and counting) have been posted defaming his character. Niemann also had his faction of fierce defenders who argued that Carlsen’s accusation, Nakamura’s enabling, and media blitz (with the Wall Street Journal) created a very damning case of character assassination. However, some claim that Hans’ brand value may actually have increased!

Let us hope that efforts are made toward online cheat detection. At the same time, there needs to be compensatory penalties, and reprimands/suspensions for players who falsely accuse others of cheating without any proof (against Article 12 of the FIDE Laws of Chess). These accusations create tremendous damage as we saw in the Mihaela Sandu case. Several higher-rated players have been criticized for claiming cheating every time they lose to an online game to a lower-rated player. It creates a bad precedent.

How Does FIDE Fare?

FIDE, the world’s chess body has not been as forthcoming on the issue as hoped. While there was a light-handed reprimand of Carlsen by Arkady Dvorkovich, there has been no final report released on the matter and no insight into the effects of the scandal. Apparently, the report is forthcoming. Earlier this year, FIDE’s Fair Play Commission adopted a report on the matter and forwarded the report to the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission for consideration.

On February 17, the Fair Play Commission (FPL) unanimously adopted the report on the Carslen/Niemann incident drafted by the Panel tasked with investigating the case, composed of Klaus Deventer (chair), Vincent Geeraets and Salomeja Zaksaite.

On February 20, the 30-page report was forwarded to the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission (EC) for further consideration. 

EDC’s nominated panel will assess the FPL’s findings and reach a decision on the case within six weeks.

Pursuant to Art. 5 of the EDC Procedural Rules, until a decision is made, the contents of the Report shall be kept confidential to protect the procedure itself and all interested parties. Until then, no further comment on the matter shall be released by any FPL, EDC member, or any other FIDE official.

We await the EDC’s recommendations on what steps FIDE plans to take on the issue.

How Does Chess Fare?

The largest scandal in the history of chess burned up the media platforms around the globe, but was it good or bad for chess? Objectively, there was damage done initially. In the media frenzy, many of the news reports were either inaccurate, misleading, or focused on sidebars like the sex toy angle. Then there were all the conversations about fake accents, body language, stolen prep, centipawn loss, unnatural improvement, etc.

Perhaps the silver lining in the scandal was increased exposure to chess and perhaps the debunking of the stereotype that chess is full of antisocial, socially awkward men with no character. Both Carlsen and Niemann are media-friendly and made for a good headline. Mass media peppered their headlines with this case in ways that the Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalovtoiletgate” scandal couldn’t compare. The $100 million dollar lawsuit made it even more intriguing with pundits having to defer to legal minds.

Speaking of Kramnik, he has largely retired from professional chess but still plays in some events. He recently played Niemann in a event and was soundly outplayed in a Ruy Lopez Berlin. After the loss, he responded to Hans’ 1.e4 with 1…f6, and after a short think, Hans played 2.d4. Kramnik immediately played 2…g5 allowing the famous “Fool’s Mate” after 3.Qh5#. Niemann looked confused. Instead of playing the move, he resigned! Then he muttered, “I have so much respect for this guy. Why does he…?”

Hans Niemann beats Kramnik as Black on playing the Berlin, Kramnik rages by hanging Fool’s Mate next game, Niemann responds by resigning instead of playing Qh5
by u/honestnbafan in chess

Kramnik intentionally throwing a chess game brings the game into disrepute (FIDE Laws 12.1), but it is up to the organizer to sanction the player (FIDE Laws 13.4).

Kramnik allegedly throwing a chess game

The implication of Kramnik’s action seemed to be to discredit Han’s win. Carlsen famously resigned after a single move against Hans. These actions have created a “copycat” situation and it is totally unbefitting for world champions to behave in this way. Because no one (not the organizers or FIDE) strongly condemns these actions, you may have others who may resort to ridiculous protests when they lose games to a player who is significantly lower rated.

It’s no laughing matter

Kramnik’s actions are disgraceful and he should be reprimanded. Let us hope that FIDE steps up, and releases a powerful report on fair play, regardless of who is involved. If not, cheating in chess will not be the only issue we have. With false accusations after losses, wild conspiracies over sex toys, resigning after one move, purposely throwing games, the top player nixing the world title, and sexual harassment scandals, who is going to invest in chess?


  1. Niemann resigning this game is a testament to how he has learned a few things during the past year. If people think he simply wants to win at all costs, then you would think he would’ve played Qh5#. Apparently, he took the high road and not did not Kramnik the pleasure of discrediting his win and it was the best move of all.

  2. Facebook (Chess News & Opinions)

    Dan Avery

    I agree with almost everything you say, including your disapprobation of Kramnik.
    But the games between Niemann and Kramnik were not played under the auspices of FIDE so FIDE has no jurisdiction. They should stay silent on that matter.

    Daaim Shabazz

    Dan Avery They may not assess a penalty, but they can certainly make a statement on these matters even if it is a general statement about fair play. The question is will they do it. The answer is probably not. Many online cheating cases are not under the auspices of FIDE. During the Carlsen-Niemann case, part of the investigation covered online cheating which they have no jurisdiction over.

    FIDE’s FPL to form an investigatory panel for the Carlsen-Niemann controversy

    Daaim Shabazz

    There are many instances where FIDE has gotten involved in matters that were not FIDE-related, but your point does beg the question about whether a player who is on the FIDE roster could be removed and prevented from playing in FIDE tournament if they are engaging in behavior that puts chess into disrepute. Intentionally throwing games is the lowest of the low and it was simply a way to take a jab at Niemann who has already endured enough. They also suspended Karjakin for making political statements and decided he violated the code of ethics. It wasn’t even a chess statement or activity.

  3. You describe Niemann’s lawsuit as an “anti-trust suit”, but in the words of Inigo Montoya: I do not think it means what you think it means.

    From Wikipedia: “[A]ntitrust law is a collection of mostly federal laws that regulate the conduct and organization of businesses to promote competition and prevent unjustified monopolies.”

    From the FTC: “The antitrust laws proscribe unlawful mergers and business practices…”

    1. I know what it means.

      The entire suit was not anti-trust so it may have been poor wording. The part of the suit that was dismissed was based on anti-trust violations. Hans’ attorneys alleged that the three defendants collaborated and created what is purported to be a virtual monopoly to control online chess activities, essentially freezing him out of numerous events. The $100 million number is the highest you can sue for under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

      Here is what Hans’ lawyers wrote:

      Accordingly, Niemann asserts the following claims against Defendants: (1) slander; (2) libel; (3) unlawful group boycott under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, et. seq.; (4) tortious interference with contract and business expectancies; and (5) civil conspiracy.

      Also from the FTC…

      The Sherman Act outlaws “every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade,” and any “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize.”

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