Saturday, December 3

Magnus Strikes Again, Retains Title

World Champion Magnus Carlsen
Credit: Maria Emelianova and
World Champion Magnus Carlsen claimed the chess crown for the third time by prevailing in a competitive title match in New York.  The challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia gave the Norwegian titleholder all that he could handle, refusing to crack despite several losing positions.  After a dozen classical games, the combatants remained tied with one win each and ten draws.

The first two games of the rapid playoff also ended drawn.  As the pressure mounted, Carlsen sacrificed a pawn in the third rapid game and finally crashed through.  The fourth and final tiebreak game also ended in favor of the Norwegian after a spectacular queen sacrifice 50. Qh6+ forced checkmate in one.  A battle that many observers criticized as being dull and uninteresting concluded with perhaps one of the most memorable checkmates in chess history!

The first chess title bout between two players born after 1980 has concluded in favor of the defending champion.  For Carlsen, this was his third successful championship match, the first two coming against Viswanathan Anand in 2013 and 2015.  He can expect to face another challenger in late 2018.  For now, the champ can enjoy a vacation to celebrate his 26th birthday, which coincidentally was the day of the playoff.

Tal Meets Qh6 and Carlsen Wins

Watch Israeli GM Tal Baron broadcast the final moves of the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin.  Within a minute, his live reaction runs the gamut from disbelief to pure ecstasy as Carlsen first played Rc8+ and followed up with the spectacular queen sacrifice Qh6+.  Karjakin immediately resigned, unable to prevent checkmate in one.