American grandmaster Hans Niemann filed a $100m lawsuit yesterday against world champion Magnus Carlsen, rival Hikaru Nakamura and the website chess.com, all of whom have accused him of cheating. "My lawsuit speaks for itself," Niemann writes, linking to it. Here's the docket.
Niemann also states that the actions of the defendants have caused "devastating damages," and that since Carlsen made the initial cheating allegations after the pair met at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis on September 4, Niemann has had invitations to prestigious tournaments and matches revoked.
When Carlsen made his insinuations—immediately made explicit by Nakamura—I remember thinking it seemed blatantly libelous. I asked a lawyer friend and he remarked that they strayed way into "statements of fact" and in that context all their "we shouldn't be saying this" jocularity made it worse. The working hypotheses I had:
(1) Geek Social Fallacy. They knew they could accuse, without any proof or even credible evidence, because elite Chess is basically a club and the whole point of being involved in elite Chess is to be in the club, and Niemann could get in as a reformed cheat but would never get in if he sued.
(2) Engineers' Syndrome. Chess guys assume they know everything in the same way that engineers and dentists do, and this party was always doomed to be crashed by real lawyers once the amateurs opened their mouths.
When Carlson all but had Niemann removed from the "club" by making clear he'd never play in any tournament which invited him, I figured that season 2 of the Carlsen-Niemann drama would indeed involve a lot of paperwork and mahogany.
UPDATE: Akiva Goldman reviews the lawsuit on Twitter—his thread is ongoing. To summarize: there are serious problems with the suit in terms of jurisdiction (it was filed in Missouri) and it failing to grasp the precision required for public figure defamation claims. Including Nakamura, a commentator, seems to be a blunder. Magnus might be in trouble, though, if he didn't really believe what he was saying. Chess.com is in more trouble because of its extensive published analysis/denunciation of Niemann, which Goldman writes "cannot possibly have been run through a lawyer familiar with defamation law."