Top chess player Hans Niemann admits to cheating in the past, but says he’s now ‘clean’ | Chess

A top US chess player accused of cheating after Magnus Carlsen quit a prestigious tournament has admitted he did it when he was aged 12 and 16 – but insisted he is now “clean” and that he was even ready to play naked to prove his innocence.

Hans Niemann, the 19-year-old who stunned world champion Carlsen by beating him with the black pieces in the $500,000 Sinquefield Cup on Sunday, has vowed he is a reformed figure after revealing he had illegally received computer assistance while playing chess on the internet as a child.

And in a remarkable interview on Tuesday night, Niemann also accused Carlsen and others – including the world’s best blitz player, Hikaru Nakamura – of trying to ruin his career when he offered to go to great lengths to show that he was not using a device to help him cheat during his games.

“If they want me to completely undress, I will,” Niemann said. “I don’t care. Because I know I’m clean. You want me to play in a closed box with zero electronic transmission, I don’t care. I’m here to win and that’s my goal regardless.

The chess world was thrown into confusion and turmoil on Monday when Carlsen withdrew from the tournament less than 24 hours after being beaten by Niemann in the third round. The Norwegian didn’t explain why he took such an unprecedented step, but announced his departure in a tweet with a video of Jose Mourinho saying: ‘If I talk I’m in big trouble.

Shortly after, Nakamura made the stunning claim that Carlsen had pulled out because he suspected Niemann had “probably cheated” – before revealing that Niemann had already been banned by the most popular chess website. in the world, Chess.com.

Speaking on Tuesday night, Niemann denied any wrongdoing at the Sinquefield Cup. However, he admitted he had cheated in the past – first as a 12-year-old when a friend gave him help in an online tournament, then as a 16-year-old playing to unrated games while he was streaming. However, he insisted that the improvement in the level of his game over the past year was down to a desire to redeem himself.

Explaining what happened when he was 12, Niemann said he wanted to get a higher rating so he could face stronger players.

“I cheated on random games on Chess.com. I was confronted. I confessed. And it’s the biggest mistake of my life. And I’m completely ashamed. I tell the world because that I don’t want misrepresentations and I don’t want rumors. I’ve never cheated in an over-the-board game. And aside from when I was 12, I’ve never cheated in a tournament with money.

Niemann admitted he again illegally used computers to play “random, unrated games” when he started streaming during the pandemic.

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    “To give context, I was 16 and living alone in New York in the midst of the pandemic and I was desperate to grow my stream,” he said. “What I want people to know about this is that I am deeply, deeply sorry for my mistake. I know my actions have consequences and I have suffered those consequences. away from a very lucrative streaming career, I stopped performing at all events and lost many close friendships and relationships.

    “I decided that the only way to make up for my mistake was to prove that I could win on the plateau events,” he added. “That was my mission. And that’s why I lived out of a suitcase and played 260 games in a year, trained 12 hours a day, because I have something to prove.

    Niemann also strongly criticized Chess.com, which he claimed disinvited him from the World Chess Championship and removed him from their website after the furor began.

    “They have the best cheat detection in the world,” he said. “They know I’m not a cheater. I gave everything at chess. I work so hard and sacrificed everything for chess. But now Chess.com has jumped on Magnus and Nakamura’s accusations.

    “I think it’s completely unfair. But I’m not afraid to tell the world that I cheated at 12 and in some random games at 16, because I know who I am.

    “All I’ve done over the past few years is to make up for that mistake and hopefully my results, my commitment and my hard work have shown that I’ve learned the lesson.”

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