Hans Niemann Biography
Hans Moke Niemann is an American chess grandmaster, Twitch streamer, and one of the most prolific cheaters in the history of the game. He was born on June 20, 2003. On January 22, 2021, FIDE bestowed upon him the title of Grandmaster to honor his accomplishments. He triumphed at the World Open Chess Tournament held in Philadelphia in the month of July 2021. On March 1, 2019, Niemann made his debut on the list of the Top 100 Junior players, entering the competition at position 88. As of the month of September 2022, he holds the position of the world’s 6th highest-rated Junior and 45th overall. Chess.com released a report on October 4, 2022, which determined that Niemann had cheated in over 100 online games to date and raised issues about his over-the-board play. The research also raised concerns about Niemann’s ability to play chess in person.
Early life and education
Niemann is a person of mixed Hawaiian and Danish descent. He was born in San Francisco, California, in the United States. He went to Top of the World Elementary School in Laguna Beach, California, when he was younger than seven years old, before his family moved to the Netherlands. Niemann started playing chess when he was 8 years old. At the time, he was enrolled in a gifted program at a Leonardoschool in Utrecht, the Netherlands. When he was 10 years old, the family relocated back to California, where he concluded his elementary schooling at Del Rey Elementary School in Orinda. After relocating to New York City in 2019, he received his diploma from Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, a school in the city that is well-known for its chess culture. He had a previous residence in Weston, Connecticut, and it was there that he received his secondary education at Weston High School.
John Grefe coached Niemann. 2012 saw Niemann qualify for the Dutch National Youth Chess Championship. Self-taught, Niemann raised his Elo rating from 2450 to 2650 in three years after returning to the US. Niemann’s first ranked US competition was in December 2012. Just under four months later, he competed in the 2013 SuperNationals V in Nashville and scored 4/7.
In March 2014, Niemann’s rating was just under 2000, which allowed him to attend his first U.S. Chess School camp in St. Louis with trainers Greg Shahade and John Bartholomew.
On December 16, 2014, Niemann won the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Tuesday Night Marathon, the oldest chess club in the U.S., earning him the title of USCF Master.
Niemann won 6 of 11 games in the U12 World Youth Chess Championships in Durban, South Africa in 2014. He lost to Annie Wang at the National Junior Chess Congress in Irvine, making Wang the youngest FIDE Master by 18 years.
At the 2015 National Open of the Las Vegas International Chess Festival, 11-year-old Niemann played the last rated game against GM Walter Browne, who died soon after. Browne won on move 35.
Niemann has been on the All-America team since 2016. After obtaining an FM in early 2016, Niemann raced at the 2016 Saint Louis Invitational IM Norm, along with Carissa Yip.
At the 2016 North American Youth Championship, Niemann tied for first in U18 and got his first IM norm.
Niemann, rated 2412, won his K-8 division at SuperNationals VI in 2017.
After winning his first six games, Niemann finished third at the 2018 U16 Olympiad in Turkey.
At the 2018 U.S. Masters Championship, Niemann earned his second IM norm and first GM norm.
Later in August 2018, Niemann obtained his 3rd and final IM norm at the Cambridge IM Norm Invitational and became an IM.
In December 2018, he won 12-0 at the National K-12 Blitz Championships. Three days later, he tied for 1st in his grade at the K-12 Grade Championships and won the bughouse duo.
In June 2019, Niemann won the inaugural ChessKid Games organized by Chess.com. He won 20 straight games and qualified for the 2020 Junior Speed Chess Championship. Niemann won Foxwoods Open Blitz with a 10-0 score. At the 2019 US Junior Championships, Niemann tied for 6th.
During the 2019 World Youth Championships, Niemann led the U16 Open for 8 of 11 rounds with a performance rating of nearly 2600. He finished 9th in a field of 78.
At the 2019 Grade Nationals, Niemann won 29-0, going 12–0 in the Blitz Championship, 10-0 in the Bughouse Duo competition, and 7–0 in the 11th Grade Championship.
In November 2019, Niemann tied for 1st at the 103rd Edward Lasker Memorial, earning his second GM norm.
Niemann was 6th in the American Continental Selection Open of the 2020 FIDE World Youth Championship.
In October 2020, he won his third and final GM norm at the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy. His third norm was supposed to come in the GM Berger Tournament at the 3rd Summer Chess Festival 2020 in Belgrade, but it was canceled owing to the COVID-19 epidemic.
He won the 75th Annual Texas State and Amateur Championship in November 2020.
In December 2020, Niemann won the blitz tournament at the VII Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival and became a grandmaster.
He placed third in the 2021 Vergani Cap at Bassano del Grappa, Italy. In February, he won the traditional round robin (7/10) and blitz (1012/11) competitions at Parain 2021 in Serbia.
In April 2021, Niemann was featured on the cover of Chess Life with a narrative about his journey to Grandmaster. He discussed his path to the title in the Cover Stories with Chess Life podcast.
In 2021, Niemann won the World Open in Philadelphia by beating John Burke in tiebreaks.
In this tournament, Niemann reached 2600 with a draw versus Illia Nyzhnyk. In the same month, he won the U.S. Junior Championship presented by the Saint Louis Chess Club.
In August 2021, Niemann placed second (8/9) at the 121st U.S. Open Chess Championship in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Niemann finished 52nd in the FIDE Grand Swiss Tournament 2021 in Latvia in October and November 2021.
Niemann rated 98th for the classical time control in March 2022. As an American, he was 12th.
Niemann and his opponent Jan-Krzysztof Duda had laptop issues in the first round of the FTX Crypto Cup. Niemann won the first game with black against Magnus Carlsen in the second round. Niemann said, “Chess speaks for itself” after beating Carlsen, then left. The tournament was lost by Niemann.
PRO Chess League
Niemann has played in the PRO Chess League since 2017, with the Las Vegas Desert Rats (2017), Saint Louis Arch Bishops (2019) and Norway Gnomes (2020).
Sinquefield Cup incident
Niemann beat Carlsen with the black pieces in the third round of the 2022 Sinquefield Cup. With this win, Niemann’s live rating topped 2700. Carlsen withdrew from the Cup the next day, tweeting a video of José Mourinho saying, “If I talk, I’m in huge trouble” Carlsen’s post and the increased security the day after his loss hinted Niemann was accused of cheating over the board, which Niemann and other analysts refuted.
Niemann played Carlsen in the Julius Baer Generation Cup. Carlsen quit after one move, stoking uproar. It’s the biggest cheating scandal in world chess since 2006’s Toiletgate. Garry Kasparov and Elon Musk have both commented on the subject.
Carlsen tweeted on September 26 that Niemann cheated. Carlsen pondered withdrawing from the Sinquefield Cup because to Niemann’s late entry. Carlsen believes Niemann cheated more often and recently than he claimed, and Niemann’s behavior during their Sinquefield Cup game convinced him to withdraw. He said he couldn’t say much without Niemann’s “clear permission” and that he wouldn’t play chess with him again.
Responses and analysis
Tony Rich, the executive director of the St. Louis Chess Club, said in a statement that “a player’s decision to withdraw from a tournament is a personal decision, and we support Magnus’ choice.” Magnus’ decision to withdraw from the competition was a personal one. Rich explained at a later time that there was never a formal complaint submitted in writing. During the course of the competition, the Chief Arbiter, Chris Bird, issued a statement reiterating that there was “no indication that any player has been playing unjustly.” In her comments, Bird did not address the question of why additional safety precautions had to be taken after Magnus had withdrawn.
Niemann was accused of cheating in online competitions by Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who claimed that Niemann had previously been banned from Chess.com for his dishonest behavior. Later, in an interview conducted after the game, Niemann revealed that he had cheated in online games when he was 12 and 16 years old. However, he categorically denied having ever cheated in an over-the-board game. In light of the incident, Chess.com has once more barred Niemann from participating in the website and any of their events, as Niemann confirmed. Daniel Rensch, the chief chess officer for Chess.com, issued a message on Twitter in which he acknowledged that Niemann would continue to be suspended until he provided an explanation for his previous instances of cheating on the platform.
Anti-cheating expert Ken Regan conducted a statistical examination of Niemann’s games since 2020, including the Sinquefield Cup game between Carlsen and Niemann, and found no evidence of Niemann’s involvement in any form of dishonesty.
Chess.com investigation and report
Chess.com published a 72-page report in October 2022 that contained an analysis of Niemann’s games and came to the conclusion that he had likely cheated online more than 100 times, with some of those instances occurring as recently as 2020, when he was only 17 years old. According to the investigative record, Niemann admitted to the investigators that he had cheated behind their backs.
Niemann competes against other chess streamers on Twitch, including Grand Masters Andrew Tang, Daniel Naroditsky, and Hikaru Nakamura, Women’s FM Alexandra Botez, and the current world champion in chess, Magnus Carlsen. Niemann streams chess both online and over the board. During his time as a streamer, Niemann worked as a coach and co-commentator for the second PogChamps online chess tournament. He worked with Twitch streamers such as XQc, Ludwig, Forsen, and Hafu, as well as the strongman and actor Hafór Jlaus Bjornsson.
During the summer of 2018, Niemann began his streaming career with sporadic appearances. In the spring of 2019, he started broadcasting his videos more frequently. Following a period of steady expansion, his audience size exploded in the early 2020 period that was marked by the COVID-19 epidemic. Niemann’s audience increased by a factor of more than 10 thanks to his nearly daily chess broadcasts, which coincided with a general uptick in activity within the chess category on Twitch.
Niemann received instruction from Grand Masters Joshua Friedel, Ben Finegold, and Jacob Aagaard while he was a student at the United States Chess School alongside fellow streamer and GM Andrew Tang.
Niemann has stated that he participated in professional cycling competitions while he was in the Netherlands and that he was one of the best cyclists in his age group.