Magnus Carlsen (31) is and will remain the king of chess players. The title of world chess champion, which the Norwegian first fought for in 2013, shortly before his 23rd birthday, has now been defended in Dubai for the fourth time. The World Cup duel ended unexpectedly quickly, but it was the longest game ever played at a World Chess Championship. It may even have been a pre-deciding factor for an early end.
The Russian Jan Nepomnjaschtschi of the same age was Carlsen’s challenger this time – for the first time. But Nepomnyashchi found it difficult. Carlsen won his fourth victory on Friday, which means that the duel was decided after eleven of 14 scheduled games. With now 7.5: 3.5 points, the world number one ended the duel prematurely. Challenger Nepomnyashchi could reach a maximum of 6.5 points. Carlsen collects 1.2 million euros in prize money as world champion, the defeated Nepomnyashchi 800,000 euros.
In the sixth party, the preliminary decision should have been made. It was an epoch-making match that will go down in chess history. After eight hours, Carlsen defeated his challenger. A total of 136 moves had been played, more than in any other World Cup game.
Nepomnyashchi must have broken that. Unnecessary mistakes followed, especially in the last game. Ex-world champion Garry Kasparov said the defeat in the sixth party was the psychological reason for it. In the end, Carlsen fought his way to victory unexpectedly quickly.
What distinguishes Carlsen, among other things, is his strong nerves and his ability to minutely exploit a slight advantage to the – for the opponent – bitter end. The reigning world champion shows a preference for rare opening variations. He wants the skill level to be determined as quickly as possible, not a particularly good memory that keeps numerous opening variations in mind up to move 30. In addition, Carlsen is particularly strong in the endgame and can elicit amazing moves from seemingly unimportant positions that look like a draw.