Carlsen, Norway’s chess champ unlikely to defend championship title

todayApril 23, 2022 11

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The current world chess champion is Magnus Carlsen, GM. Many consider him to be the greatest chess player of all time, though GMs Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer are still contenders. In any case, the obvious and remarkable point is that Carlsen has already earned a place at the top before reaching the age of 30. In 2004, one month before becoming the second-youngest GM in history, the 13-year-old Norwegian prodigy drew Kasparov and defeated GM Anatoly Karpov at the same event (and still eighth-youngest as of 2021). In 2009, he became the youngest player in history to surpass the 2800 rating mark (a record only broken by GM Alireza Firouzja in 2021). Carlsen then progressed from a young world-class player to an all-time great. He took the world number one ranking in 2011 and hasn’t given it up since. He won the world championship in 2013 and has successfully defended it four times since then (2014, 2016, 2018, and 2021). He has also won multiple world titles in rapid (twice) and blitz (four times) time controls, has the highest rating ever, and has won several elite tournaments, including four Norway Chess victories and seven in Wijk aan Zee.


Carlsen’s statement, made in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper VG, goes further than when he last spoke about the title in December, following his crushing victory over Nepomniachtchi.


Then he stated that he would only play a challenger from a younger generation, pointing to 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja, formerly of Iran and now of France, who became the youngest in chess history to achieve a 2800 rating, a level recognized for world champions and challengers, in 2021. This time, there is no mention of Firouzja, who hasn’t played much since his triumphs last autumn but is thought to have been preparing opening bombs and is still firmly entrenched as one of the candidates’ favourites.


That leaves a practical question, which will not be answered until June. Will Carlsen still relinquish his title if the challenger’s supporters can significantly increase the prize fund from its current level of €2 million? The sums are much larger now, but the problem is essentially the same as it was in 1972, when Bobby Fischer dallied in New York before the start of his series against Boris Spassky in Reykjavik. There are also instances in which Carlsen refuses to play and the winner and runner-up meet for the world championship in accordance with Fide rules. That would effectively result in two world champions, as happened between 1993 and 2006, a 13-year gap that would most likely be much shorter this time due to the widespread desire for a new reunification match.


While Firouzja is the most prominent adolescent contender, others are quickly catching up. Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 16, won the Reykjavik Open earlier this month and is already being hailed as the next world champion by some Indian media.


Written by: Relaks Radio

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