The World Champion defended the title that he won in 2013 for the second time. Magnus Carlsen has won the World Chess Championship for a third time after unleashing a glorious queen sacrifice on the final move of the match. That meant the birthday boy had won the tiebreaks 3:1, after also winning Game 3. Sergey Karjakin reminded us what he was made of with a stunning escape in the second game, but he was always on the back foot and admitted he was “completely not ready to play rapid games”.
It took everything he had against a gritty opponent — Sergey Karjakin, the Russian challenger — but Magnus Carlsen retained the World Championship by beating Karjakin in a series of tiebreaker games on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
The match, which was held in the South Street Seaport in New York City, had a prize fund of one million euros (about $1.1 million). Carlsen will receive 55 percent of the purse and Karjakin 45 percent.
It was the first World Chess Championship match in New York City since 1995, when Garry Kasparv defeated Viswanathan Anand a top the World Trade Center.
During the match, a global audience of nearly 10 million people tuned in to watch on World Chess, the official site of the match, while 10,000 spectators and VIPs watched the action live at the Fulton Market building in the South Street Seaport.
The match between Carlsen, who is from Norway, and Karjakin began on Nov. 11 as a best-of-12 series. Carlsen, who turned 26 on Wednesday, became champion in 2013 by beating Anand. He was a heavy pre-match favorite based on his experience and that he is the No. 1 ranked player in the world. Karjakin, who is also 26 and is known as a defensive specialist, was ranked No. 9 before the match began.
Almost from the start, things did not go according to plan for Carlsen. He missed clear wins in Games 3 and 4 after brilliant defensive efforts by Karjakin. Then, in Game 5, Carlsen made a mistake that Karjakin failed to exploit.
Finally, after seven draws, it was Karjakin who took the lead in Game 8 after Carlsen, clearly frustrated by his inability to break through Karjakin’s defenses, overpressed…
In the last game, needing a win, Karjakin played the Sicilian Defense as Black. But the opening is not consistent with Karjakin’s style and Carlsen had no trouble seizing control of the game. In the end, he finished up with a stylish queen sacrifice to checkmate Karjakin and retain the title.
In the press conference afterward, Carlsen was relieved and admitted that the match was the most difficult of his career and congratulated Karjakin on how well he played.
Karjakin, asked if he would try to win the Candidates tournament again so that he could again become the challenger for the title, laughed and said, “That’s the plan.”