An investigative report conducted by Chess.com has concluded that U.S. Grandmaster Hans Niemann “likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games.” The 19-year-old Niemann upset Magnus Carlsen, the No. 1-ranked player in the world and world chess champion, in the Sinquefield Cup on Sept. 4 in the third round. At the time of his victory allegations were made that Niemann used artificial intelligence and vibrating anal beads to aid him in the win.
When the allegations were made Niemann vehemently denied them, admitting to cheating twice in the past by using chess engines during online play when he was a kid. Apparently once a cheater …
The methodology used in the Chess.com report relied on advanced analytical cheating detection tools that view a comparison of a player’s moves to those recommended by powerful chess-playing programs. Those tools provided compelling data-driven evidence that show Niemann’s meteoric rise in ranking was likely aided. But the report made no such conclusion about Niemann’s over-the-board games or the specific game against Carlsen.
“We present evidence in this report that Hans likely cheated online much more than his public statements suggest. However, while Hans has had a record-setting and remarkable rise in rating and strength, in our view there is a lack of concrete statistical evidence that he cheated in his game with Magnus or in any other over-the-board (“OTB”)—i.e., in-person—games. We are presenting our findings here and will cooperate with FIDE on any further investigation.”
It was always going to be difficult to prove the vibrating anal beads allegation. How would you go about doing that anyway? The tournament would’ve likely needed to have dozens of cameras located throughout the facility, like the ones in NBA arenas that track player movement for analytical purposes. They would then need a large sample set of the player’s movements during an over-the-board game and use pattern recognition software to detect any differences in movement.
To be clear these things exist and can be done. They just don’t exist in the world of competitive chess.
The Fédération Internationale des Échecs, or FIDE, the governing body of professional chess announced plans to form an investigatory panel to check both Carlsen’s claims of alleged cheating by Niemann and Niemann’s admitting to online cheating earlier in the week before the Chess.com report. No word on how the recent findings will impact their investigation.
“Outside his online play, Hans is the fastest rising top player in Classical [over-the-board] chess in modern history,” the Chess.com report said. “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.”
Still, where there is smoke there is usually fire. Even if proving Niemann cheated in over-the-board chess is difficult, he’s already proven to be a cheater and dishonest within the sport of competitive chess.
According to the report Niemann has privately confessed to the allegations, and he is subsequently banned from Chess.com for an undisclosed period of time.
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