Chess player Hans Niemann has broken his silence after being accused of widespread cheating – claiming he “won’t back down”.
The 19-year-old was asked about the “elephant in the room” after winning a US Championship game in St Louis on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a Chess.com investigation found it is “likely” Niemann has cheat in more than 100 online games.
It came after the teenager beat 31-year-old world champion Magnus Carlsen – considered the greatest player of all time – sending shockwaves throughout world chess.
Carlsen then accused Niemann of cheating, abandoning a game against him after just one move.
But addressing the cheating scandal for the first time in a month, Niemann told an interviewer in St Louis: “This game is 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.”
Niemann walks out
The 19-year-old then walked out of the interview, adding: “You can leave it to your own interpretation, but thank you, that’s it.”
And when the reporter tried to ask him more questions on the game itself, he said: “That’s all I can say, because it was such a beautiful game I don’t even need to describe it.”
Chess.com, which has banned Niemann, is the world’s most popular chess platform and used detection tools and analysis of a player’s moves against those recommended by computers to put together its report.
The investigation found no evidence of face-to-face cheating by Niemann against Carlsen or in any other in-person games.
But it did suggest widespread cheating online.
Famous cheating scandals that have rocked sport
The platform said it wanted to “make clear” the “vast majority” of games do not involve “any cheating”, stating “we estimate that fewer than 0.14% of players on Chess.com ever cheat”.
The International Chess Federation, the sport’s governing body, has said it will convene a three-person panel to look into the cheating allegations.
Cheating scandals have also rocked poker and fishing recently.
Two men in the US has been accused of inserting weights into fish to make them appear heavy, while a Los Angeles poker game was stopped after a player suggested an impressive bluff was the result of a vibrating communication device.