US chess prodigy Hans Niemann has “categorically” denied using a vibrating sex toy to cheat during a chess match worth $500,000 last year.
The 20-year-old rocked the chess world after it was alleged he used remote-controlled anal beads to cheat during his victory over Norwegian Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis last September.
Speaking to UK talk show host Piers Morgan on Monday night, Niemann opened up about how he reacted to the cheating accusations.
“The allegation was that your coach instructed you to insert anal beads inside yourself, which he would then send remote signals to,” said Morgan. “When that story broke, what was your reaction?”
“Well, obviously, it was very disheartening, to be accused of cheating after that victory,” said Niemann, who was seated beside his lawyer during the interview.
“But, you know, these things … it happened, and I learned a lot from that time and it really has taught me a lot of very important lessons about life and chess.”
The 20-year-old added the incident has “strengthened his resolve” and only “motivated” him further.
“Just to be clear you didn’t cheat?” asked Morgan, before Niemann replied “of course not”.
The journalist continued to clarify the sex toy claim, asking Niemann “To be clear, on the specific allegation, have you ever used anal beads while playing chess?”
“Not a question I’d ever thought I’d ask a guest, to be honest,” he added.
“Well, your curiosity is a bit concerning, you know – maybe you’re personally interested, but I can tell you, no,” Niemann said.
“Categorically, no, of course not.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Niemann went on to call Carlsen, the current world number one, a “bully”.
“He used his entire empire, he used his connections at Chess.com. He leveraged the fact that there is a merger happening, he got all these people to attack me … It’s a bully.”
After the interview, Niemann shared a post on social media saying he remains “unfazed” by Morgan’s questioning as he competes in the World Junior Chess Championship in Mexico.
“Chilling on the 40th floor while Piers Morgan obsesses over ***** I remain unfazed, perspicacious, and composed on the path to World Junior Champion,” he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
The interview comes after Niemann and Carlsen last month settled a $100 million lawsuit filed against Carlsen, online chess platform Chess.com, and US Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who Niemann accused of “attempting to bolster Carlsen’s false cheating allegations”.
Chess.com had earlier stated in a 72-page October report that Niemann likely “received illegal assistance” in more than 100 online games, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Niemann had admitted to cheating twice in previous online games on Chess.com when he was younger, however, he denied cheating in any in-person games.
The 20-year-old was later reinstated to Chess.com after the lawsuit was resolved in August.
“At this time, Hans has been fully reinstated to Chess.com, and we look forward to his participation in our events,” Chess.com said in a statement.
“We would also like to reaffirm that we stand by the findings in our October 2022 public report regarding Hans, including that we found no determinative evidence that he has cheated in any in-person games.”
Carlsen said he acknowledged Chess.com’s report “including its statement is no determinative evidence that Niemann cheated in his game against me at the Sinquefield Cup”.
“I am willing to play Niemann in future events, should we be paired together.”