Federal judge throws out lawsuit filed by chess star over cheating allegations

Jun 29, 2023, 3:01 PM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a 19-year-old chess grandmaster who alleged his career was ruined by allegations that he had cheated.

Last year, Hans Niemann sued former world champion Magnus Carlsen and the online chess organization Chess.com. He was seeking $100 million in damages for slander and libel.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in St. Louis, Niemann also accused Carlsen and Chess.com of violating antitrust laws by merging online playing platforms and refusing to let him play on them.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig found Niemann’s antitrust claims had no merit. She also dismissed libel and slander claims because she said she didn’t have jurisdiction to oversee them, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The lawsuit came after Niemann shocked the chess world by defeating Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup last year in St. Louis, ending Carlsen’s world-record unbeaten streak. Carlsen accused Niemann of cheating and withdrew from the tournament.

Niemann said that after the cheating allegations were made, tournaments banned him, matches were canceled, and reputable chess schools wouldn’t hire him.

The lawsuit contends Carlsen. generally considered one of the greatest chess champions in the world, was trying to preserve his status as the “King of Chess” and to complete a deal with Chess.com to acquire Play Magnus for nearly $83 million.

Carlsen’s attorney, Craig Reiser, said Niemann’s lawsuit was an “attempt to recover an undeserved windfall” and “chill speech through strategic litigation.”

Chess.com was happy the controversy, which stunned the chess world, was ending and “are grateful that all parties can now focus on growing the game of chess,” said Nima Mohebbi and Jamie Wine, of the firm Latham & Watkins.

Niemann’s attorneys said they plan to pursue the libel and slander claims in state court.

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Federal judge throws out lawsuit filed by chess star over cheating allegations