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Magnus Carlsen, the world number one, and the rising US talent Hans Niemann have resolved their cheating claim dispute, which led to a $100mn lawsuit and polarised opinion among chess fans.
The allegations began after Niemann defeated Carlsen in a shock result at last year’s prestigious Sinquefield Cup in St Louis.
Carlsen immediately withdrew from the tournament and issued a statement implying that the then teenager had cheated. A week later, the Norwegian resigned from an online tournament game against the American after making only one move, effectively refusing to play.
The dispute escalated when the world’s largest chess site, Chess.com, which last year acquired Carlsen’s Play Magnus Group, barred Niemann and claimed he had cheated there multiple times. Niemann denied ever having cheated over the board, and investigations by experts in computer chess supported his position.
It was generally agreed that Carlsen’s loss to Niemann in St Louis had been caused by the then world champion’s unusually substandard endgame play.
Niemann went on to file a $100mn lawsuit against Carlsen, Chess.com and others, alleging defamation and attempts to stop his career. A US judge dismissed part of Niemann’s lawsuit in June this year, and stated lack of jurisdiction on other parts. However, informal discussions between the parties continued and have now produced a settlement.
On Monday, Chess.com issued a statement reinstating Niemann to Chess.com, with no restrictions on his participation in the website’s competitive online events.
Carlsen’s own statement said: “I acknowledge and understand Chess.com’s report, including its statement that there is no determinative evidence that Niemann cheated in his game against me in the Sinquefield Cup. I am willing to play Niemann in future events, should we be paired together.”
In recent weeks, Carlsen has been a regular competitor in Chess.com’s Titled Tuesday, an online speed chess event open to all players with Fide international titles, which normally attracts entries of several hundred players, including many elite grandmasters.
Niemann could also be back in chess headlines as soon as the beginning of October. The American is the top seed among 131 entrants in the World Junior Chess Championship at Mexico City from September 20 to October 2. Niemann and Carissa Yip, 19, who is the number one seed in the World Girls, are the only US players competing in Mexico.
Puzzle number 2535
White mates in two moves, against any defence (by Frederick Gamage). White has all eight pieces, Black just a king and a pawn.
Click here for solution
This article has been amended to reflect the fact that Niemann denied ever having cheated over the board, though he has admitted to cheating in online games