Chess: Embattled Hans Niemann says he will not back down after latest cheating allegations

Hans Niemann acknowledged cheating online twice but says he has never played fraudulently in a face-to-face match. PHOTO: HANS NIEMANN/INSTAGRAM

MISSOURI - Hans Niemann, the top chess player facing accusations of cheating, insisted on Wednesday that he was "not going to back down" as he made his first comments on the scandal.

The 19-year-old American grandmaster spoke briefly on the allegations raised against him by chess world champion and fellow grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, after a win in the US Chess Championship.

In what was supposed to be an analysis of his win over 15-year-old grandmaster Christopher Yoo, Niemann was asked about the "elephant in the room" and responded by saying his victory was "a message to everyone".

"This entire thing started with me saying 'chess speaks for itself' and I think this game spoke for itself and showed the chess player I am.

"It also showed I'm not going to back down and I'm going to play my best chess here regardless of the pressure."

He then abruptly ended the interview, without providing analysis of his win.

"You can leave it to your own interpretation, but thank you, that's it", he said when the interviewer tried to ask more questions.

"That's all I can say, because it was such a beautiful game I don't even need to describe it."

Niemann's comments came a day after a investigation claimed it was "likely" he had cheated in more than 100 games online.

The chess world has been shaken for weeks by the controversy, since Norway's Carlsen, world champion since 2013, withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup in September after losing to Niemann, before taking to social media to post a cryptic message which implied his opponent had cheated.

Carlsen then abruptly withdrew from a match against Niemann in the Julius Baer Generation Cup online tournament reignited the furore and the 31-year-old later openly accused his American rival of cheating, writing in a letter published on Twitter: "I believe that Niemann has cheated more - and more recently - than he has publicly admitted."

After his Sinquefield Cup match with Carlsen, Niemann acknowledged cheating online twice, when he was 12 and 16, but says he has never played fraudulently in a face-to-face match and is even willing to play nude to prove his honesty.

The International Chess Federation, Fide, says it is conducting its own investigation into the Niemann-Carlsen affair. It will create an investigatory panel comprising three members of its fair play commission to look into the claims.

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