Anyone want to play a game of chess?

Yeah, I’m sure he did cheat.

I’m with you: I’m finding the reaction from the chessies of “oh my God, there’s cheating to going on in this establishment” pretty silly. It’s a lightly-regulated competitive activity with money on the line…of course there’s rampant cheating.

As they explicitly point out in the report, he was the one who chose to go public wrt their interactions and then decided to misrepresent his actions on their site. Please point out the MANY other banned high level chess players who have done the same.

This is also not true.

We’ll just have to agree to disagree about that.

Could you please cite in which page of the report it states that he was the one who ‘chose to go public wrt their interactions’? Or link to a site that states same?

Any banned player who continues to play in OTB or on the fresh accounts provided to them after privately admitting to cheating are misrepresenting their actions on the site, or can you point out any of them that have been up front about the extent of their cheating? Or admitting to cheating at all?

Strangely, the report itself contradicts you and makes it clear that he was banned & uninvited before any public comments about cheating, because he had beaten Magnus:
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The report’s own timeline makes it clear that:

  1. Chess.com investigated Niemann solely due to his having beaten Magnus.
  2. Within 24 hours of Niemann having beaten Magnus, Chess.com banned & uninvited Niemann
  3. 1&2 precedes any statement by Niemann regarding Chess.com or his dishonest recounting of his history of online cheating
  4. Exhibit B shows that none of Niemann’s games post-ban were suspicious or indicative of cheating, and that he had complied with the terms of the agreement reached with Danny Rensch back in 2020
  5. It is also shown that no new evidence was searched for until AFTER Niemann beat Magnus.
  6. Nonetheless, chess.com decided to reinstate his ban because he had beaten Magnus in a game that experts, again, state wasn’t indicative of cheating and was one in which Magnus played unusually poorly.

If you think that is a rational, logical or fair approach - by all means.

Ok 🤷‍♂️ Yet nonetheless, it remains true. Everything I’ve seen draws a distinction betwen his online cheating and his OTB game where people note that Carlsen played unusually poorly and missed several very obvious chances to win the game.

You’ve already pointed them out. Every statement by Niemann that is highlighted in the part you pull out is a lie. Hans could have chosen to accept their decision to ban and disinvite him quietly. He is not the only top-100 players to have been banned from Chess.com (there are probably more than we know) without making a public fuss. He is also not the first player to be disinvited from a tournament.

His choice to go public with it. And then to lie to justify himself.

So you keep saying. I must have imaged the surprise of various experts at Nieman’s play in that game, (the Norwegian broadcast experts even commented on it during the play, IIRC). It’s a line of play that he has no coherent explanation for (also covered in the Chess.com report). Nakamura, obviously - but also Nepo has spoken and published extensively about this. Nepo claims that even before the tournament he had requested additional anti-cheating controls specifically because of Nieman. And that’s just the big names.

I get that you think we should give a known, serial cheater the benefit of the doubt, since he hasn’t been caught red-handed OTB. We will just have to disagree about that as well.

This is what you wrote:

He was the one who chose to go public wrt their interactions

Nowhere in the report does it state that. I asked where it states it, and you just replied “there, somewhere”.

The investigation & public ban came before his statements involving chess.com. He also never discussed his interactions with chess.com (see quotes below).

The investigation happened because of an OTB game that even now, over a month later, zero evidence has been presented to suggest that it was in any way influenced by cheating, and what available evidence there is suggests was more likely due to Magnus playing much worse than his statistical norms.

Further, what did Niemann actually say on September 6th, the day after he received an email telling him his account was terminated with no explanation?

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

“I believe this is completely unfair. But I am not afraid to tell the world that I cheated as a 12-year-old and in some random games as a 16-year-old, because I know who I am.

Everything I have done for the past few years is to make up for that mistake and I hope that my results, commitment and hard work have shown that I have learnt my lesson.”

He misrepresents his level of historical cheating, but he doesn’t know that his account was banned because of cheating during the period before his ban (i.e. pre-August 2020). Why would he? He reached an agreement with Danny Rensch, an agreement that hundreds of others who have cheated on Chess.com also reached (and so far, it seems only Niemann has had that agreement rescinded out of all those hundreds) that gave him a clean slate from August 2020 onwards.

Does the report show any cheating post-August 2020?

No.

So at this stage, he thinks he’s been banned for cheating post-August 2020 and talks and makes comments based on that.

Again, the 72 page report shows no cheating post-August 2020.

He is not the only top-100 players to have been banned from Chess.com (there are probably more than we know) without making a public fuss.

People were commenting on his public ban almost immediately. Can you point out any other Top100 players where similar happened? How is he meant to not make a public fuss, when chess.com publicly banned him (as in the ban was publicly visible as was his dis-invitation) and third parties are publicly commenting on it?

I must have imaged the surprise of various experts at Nieman’s play in that game,

Did I state anywhere that no-one was surprised? Why are you conflating ‘surprise as it was happening’ with conclusions that it was due to cheating? Does every time someone is surprised by a sports persons’ performance mean that they actually believe they’re cheating?

since he hasn’t been caught red-handed OTB.

That implies there is significant reason to suspect him but that we don’t have conclusive proof.

You, nor anyone else have provided evidence to suspect any of his his OTB games. The chess.com report, and Ken Regan’s analysis doesn’t highlight any cheating since August 2020. Ken Regan’s analysis clears him completely, and chess.com posit some potential smoking guns based on private statistical analysis but don’t actually publish it or explain it.

Yet here you are, convinced there is significant suspicion about his recent games because he was awkward in his post-game analysis and Magnus thinks he should have been visibly cowed during their game - really?

While their tools for detecting foul play in their own online games are apparently the best in the business, their arguments-by-association and relying on correlation as causation in the rest of the report is incredibly poor. Not to mention that most graphs have strange starting or end points for numerical ranges that are likely due to them making the results seem more damning as a result c.f. https://twitter.com/ChessNumbers/status/1568710543548256257

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So what? Only one became a GM at 12. Any range will always have end points at each end, that’s meaningless. Yet it’s used to infer Niemann is anomalous.


'The conventional wisdom is that if you are not a GM by age 14, it’s unlikely that you can reach the top levels of chess. ’

Except they immediately note that some of the greats were age 15, not 14. And in Niemann’s peer group, there were many people who didn’t reach GM until age 15 and 16, not 14.

This is disingenuous, has no value and is just there to bulk out the report and sound ominous. There’s plenty else like it in it.

And yes, you do tend to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who seemingly hasn’t cheated in 2 years (as per Ken Regan and Chess.com) despite playing countless games - why wouldn’t you when there has been no evidence produced whatsoever?

I see we’re entering the war and peace length responses phase of this discussion.

For those just casually following along can you put TL;DR summaries at the bottom?

Sure!

Chess.com are treating Niemann differently to any other cheater that they’ve dealt with on the site (of which there have been dozens ranked as high or higher, including 4 in the World Top 100).

Their action seems to have been spurred solely by Magnus losing to him, a loss which is generally agreed wasn’t suspicious and was due to Magnus playing poorly.

Several moves that would have gained Magnus the win late in the game have been identified, but the speed at which Niemann was playing seems to have somewhat thrown Magnus and not given him the time and headspace to make better decisions.

Others have picked up on Chess.com’s double standards and questioned their motivation for such, including:

  • It is unclear to me why they publish so much about Niemann, who is not supposed to have cheated since 2020, while they insist that everyone else who has cheated will not have their name revealed, (Jon Ludvig) Hammer said.

NRK’s ​​chess expert Torstein Bae believes that there is good reason to be critical of Chess.com, which has been sitting with information about Niemann for several years without taking any action.

Niemann was banned in August 2020, and then ‘rehabilitated’ (as was the norm) and allowed to continue playing as a fresh start. Chess.com haven’t presented any evidence nor accused Niemann of cheating since his fresh start. Kenneth Regan who is the expert on statistical analysis of chess cheating, has publicly stated that he has found no evidence of Niemann cheating since August 2020.

Nonetheless, Chess.com banned Niemann (again) immediately after he defeated Magnus.

This isn’t to portray Niemann as some sort of victim - regardless of what arrangement he came to with Chess.com, he still cheated over a period of several years and never publicly acknowledged any of it until forced to - and even then, he minimised it to a large extent.
Rather it’s that Chess.com seem to be applying double standards and have an ulterior motive, which of course wouldn’t be linked to the fact that they just invested $82million in Magnus Carlsen’s company.

This is the crux of it for me. I really do not care that his OTB wins may be legit. He’s a cheater. Full stop.

So are many of the people he’s playing against, it seems. What differs is that they didn’t upset Magnus Carlsen!

of all the games and players, cheating is less than 1% I think this is stated in the report.
Also, if I remember correctly, pnl 4 GMs in the top 100 were caught cheating.

It is not widespread, yet. Long live the chess

No. He was banned privately. He chose to make that public and lie about his cheating.

Incidentally, Chess.com provide a service and their event is by invitation. They are completely within their rights to remove people from their service (as explicitly stated in their TOS) for whatever reason they like. And as they also explain, they felt that allowing Hans to participate in CGC would damage its credibility - the same way having Hans join Sinquefeld damaged its credibility even before the first game (as Nepo explains in his commentary, hearing Hans join made him request additional security even before the start). The same way future event organizers are free to decide not to invite Hans to their events. Hans and you may think that is unfair, but it is 100% within their rights.

People commented on his having been banned in the past (because that was known previously), His having been banned from Chess.com and disinvited from their tournament on September 5 was not widely known on September 6 until he made it public himself.

This is like saying we should give the benefit of the doubt to a sports doper who has been convicted multiple times. I don’t do that either - those people destroy the credibility of their sport(s) and destroy the livelihood of their fellow competitors and deserve to be banned for life (as fortunately some sports have started doing).

You are free to give the benefit of the doubt to a proven serial cheater. I don’t - and that’s really all that needs to be said about this matter.

This is the crux of it for me as well. The cheating was also extensive. I am going on faith that Chess.com’s legal team read the report and determined they were safe on lawsuits based on the evidence at hand. The statistical outlier from the report on Hans’ cheating were a few games he didn’t cheat in. These were also prize money events. And like a juiced player after his suspension, he needs additional scrutiny for the rest of his career.

He needs to be banned from competive play for a period of time. Any tournament that invites him accepts the risk that comes with it, and knowing they inviting a proven serial cheater in their sport.

That said, my hope is this is beginning of a public accounting cheating in chess, similar to the 2003 MLB report showing how many players were juiced. This should lead to additional anti-cheat measures in OTB and online games.

Ron Howard voice: But it did.

Looks like Niemann is playing on his old level in the US Championships. It appears that a 30 min delay during live coverage is good enough to prevent cheating from outside.

Niemann is performing as expected for his rating (bottom half of the table), but it’s a pretty big leap to conclude that lack of cheating explains his performance.

He’s definitely a cheater OTB, the only reason why he hasn’t been caught is that he’s cheated for so long, he’s learned to appear genuine and make his cheating somewhat less obvious. It’s only a matter of time now, the decision to beat Magnus with black was mind-blowingly stupid but also typical for cheats who keep getting away with it to the point where they believe they will never get caught.

It’s still entirely possible he did not cheat in that particular game, but I think it’s unreasonable to hold a strong belief that he never cheated OTB prior to the recent scrutiny and additional measures. He’s also probably limited to his actual ability for now.

I think it’s very likely he cheated in that game, probably a few critical moves that threw Magnus off and set off his alarm bells. At several moments in the game, Magnus was not making blunders/mistakes yet he was getting outplayed… with WHITE. In the past 10 years, Magnus has probably ran into such a thing a handful of times.

Oh, I agree, but I’m willing to allow for doubt on any individual game far more than I am for the body of work. He has many individual online games where the statistical evidence is incontrovertible, but OTB cheating, by its very nature, is much harder to determine with certainty, at least if you’re not completely stupid about it and rely on it only in key moments.

If you subtract 150 pts from his rating, that’s his rating. He is barely keeping up with the field. Time to give back some of those cheated points.

What people don’t understand is: if you cheat online in games, this is because you are not good enough to compete. This carries over to OTB. He found a method how to cheat OTB and gained 150 to 200 points. That’s all there is. The true Niemann is playing now.