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Chess cheating saga: Chess.com files motion to dismiss Hans Niemann's $100m lawsuit

Chess.com has filed a motion to dismiss Hans Niemann’s $100 million defamation lawsuit. Tim Vizer/AFP via Getty Images

Chess.com has filed a motion to dismiss American grandmaster Hans Niemann's $100 million defamation lawsuit.

Filed on Dec. 2 with the Eastern Missouri District Court, Chess.com's motion states that Niemann's lawsuit was filed as a "public relations stunt."

Stating that Niemann is an "admitted cheater," the 27-page document presented arguments stating that Niemann's lawsuit did not have any merits and that it should not be allowed to move forward in the court.

"Niemann cannot rewrite what Chess.com said to create a defamatory statement; defamation must be assessed according to 'the actual words used'," the motion said.

The motion was filed 43 days after Niemann filed a lawsuit naming chess.com, its chief chess officer Danny Rensch, world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen and grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura as defendants, seeking at least $100m in damages. Niemann's lawsuit accused the defendants of libel, slander and unlawful boycott and tortious interference of Niemann's business.

The controversy traces back to Sept. 4, when Niemann, 19, stunned Carlsen at Sinquefield Cup, an over-the-board tournament in St. Louis. Carlsen withdrew from the tournament the next day.

Then, chess.com published a 72-page document a day before the U.S. Chess Championships in St. Louis in October, suggesting that Niemann has "likely cheated" in more than 100 online games on their platform, as recently as August 2020, when he was 17 years old.

Niemann responded to the document with a federal lawsuit, which stated that the defendants are "colluding to blacklist" Niemann from the chess world. The lawsuit also referenced Chess.com's relationship with Carlsen, as the website is in the process of buying Carlsen's Play Magnus app for $83m.