Hans Niemann: Defiant young chess star accused of cheating ‘won’t back down’

American international grandmaster Hans Niemann has struck a defiant tone after being mired by allegations of cheating and said he is “not going to back down”.

Accused of cheating in more than 100 online games, the 19-year-old spoke to the media on Wednesday after winning his US Championship game against 15-year-old grandmaster Christopher Yoo and said he was going to play his “best chess regardless of the pressure”.

“This entire thing started with me saying ‘chess speaks for itself’ and I think this game spoke for itself and showed the chess player that I am,” he said. “It also showed I’m not going to back down and I’m going to play my best chess here regardless of the pressure that I’m under, and that’s all I have to say about this game. Chess speaks for itself, that’s all I can say.”

The rising star, who previously admitted to cheating twice in games when he was aged 12 and 16, cut the interviewer off on being questioned about his win in the US Championship game.

“I’m sorry, that’s it. You can leave it to your own interpretation, but thank you. That’s it. That’s all I’d like to say, because it was such a beautiful game I don’t even need to describe it.”

As Niemann concluded the interview, commentator Yasser Seirawan laughed to say: “What? That’s it? Ok.”

The chess world was rocked with controversy last month when world chess champion Magnus Carlsenbranded the American teenager as a cheat after a major upset against him in Sinquefield Cup.

In a fiery statement released on 26 September, the Norweigian claimed his 19-year-old rival “has cheated – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted”.

The controversy deepened further after a bombshell report by Chess.com on Tuesday alleged “Niemann likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games, as recently as 2020. Those matches included contests in which prize money was on the line”.

The report stated some of the alleged cheating took place as recently as 2020 when Mr Niemann was 17 years old.

It noted that Mr Niemann’s improvement had been “statistically extraordinary” but did not make any conclusion as to any irregularities over his in-person games.

But it said that some of Mr Niemann’s strongest events “merit further investigation based on the data”. An investigation into Mr Carlsen’s claims is also being carried out by the sport’s governing body, Fide.