GM Magnus Carlsen will not defend his world championship title against GM Ian Nepomniachtchi next year. Carlsen announced his decision on a podcast on Tuesday. According to current regulations, FIDE Candidates tournament winner Nepomniachtchi will now play the world championship against Candidates second place GM Ding Liren.
“I have talked to people in my team, I have talked to FIDE, I talked to Ian as well. The conclusion is very simple: I am not motivated to play another game,” said Carlsen. “I do not have much to win. I do not like it very much, and although I’m sure a match will be interesting for historical reasons, I have no inclination to play and I simply do not want to play a match.”
Carlsen thus confirmed the previous doubts he had expressed on December 14, 2021 and later repeated: after playing five World Cup matches, he no longer enjoys them.
“It’s been an interesting trip since I decided to play against the candidates in 2013, as if to be honest on a whim. I just decided it could be interesting, and ever since the World Cup has given me a lot and opened a “Many doors, and I’m happy about that. The fights themselves have been interesting at times, a little fun at times.”
The Norwegian star leaves the door open to return to battle one day, but it is not likely: “I do not rule out participation in the future, but I would not count on it either.”
Carlsen made his statements in the first episode of the new podcast “The Magnus Effect”.
During the FIDE candidate tournament, Carlsen had a meeting with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich and CEO Emil Sutovsky, which apparently did not have enough effect to convince Carlsen to defend his title a fifth time.
Speaking about this meeting in Madrid, Carlsen said: “I had no demands or suggestions for that meeting. They had a couple of suggestions, but the main thing was that I was there to tell them that I would not defend my title in the next WCC. -match.”
Dvorkovich told Chess.com that he respects the world champion’s decision and confirmed that according to the rules, there will now be a Ding-Nepomniachtchi match.
It turned out that Carlsen never really changed his mind about a feeling he has had for a while. “Ultimately, the conclusion is, one that I’m pretty comfortable with, one that I’ve been thinking about a lot for a long time now,” he said. “I would say more than a year, probably a year and a half. Long before the last game.”
It did not help that Nepomniachtchi qualified for a second match with Carlsen, who had previously stated that he preferred an opponent of the new generation, especially GM Alireza Firouzja. “Four championships to five – it meant nothing to me. It was nothing,” Carlsen said in yesterday’s podcast. “I was happy with the job I had done. I was glad I had not lost the match. But it was.”
Carlsen also reiterated once again that he intends to continue playing, just not matches: “Just so there is no ambiguity here: I do not withdraw from chess. I will become an active player. I will leave later today to go to Croatia to play the Grand Chess Tour, from there I’m going to Chennai to play the Olympics, which is going to be a lot of fun, and the Norwegian team is seeded number four there, and to Miami, which is going to be one of the real highlights of the year – the FTX Crypto Cup which is going to be great. And right after that the Sinquefield Cup. “
“There are a lot of emotions around my head right now that I have to deal with,” Ding said in an initial reaction to Chess.com. “But I’m very excited to play a World Cup match to fight for the crown next year.”
He called from Barcelona, where Ding lives in a friend’s apartment, and revealed that he got Covid right after the candidate tournament and therefore has not been able to fly back to China yet. Now that he is fully recovered, he will return in two weeks from now. The Chinese player is surprised by Carlsen’s decision:
“I knew he was in doubt, but I expected him to play. But I understand that too. Being a world champion means a lot of responsibility; there are many things to deal with.”
Ding pointed out the similarities with Yuzuru Hanyu, the Japanese figure skater who also yesterday announced his withdrawal from the competition, but promised to pursue his goal at exhibitions instead.
The chess world has seen earlier moments in history when the world champion did not defend the title. In 1946, GM Alexander Alekhine died as reigning champion. A world championship tournament, organized two years later, was won by GM Mikhail Botvinnik. In 1975, GM Bobby Fischer could not agree with FIDE on the format of the match and lost the title to the candidate’s winner GM Anatoly Karpov.
In 1993, GM Garry Kasparov left FIDE and played a world championship under the Professional Chess Association instead. This led to a schism in the chess world that lasted until 2006, when GM Vladimir Kramnik won a reunion match with FIDE champion GM Veselin Topalov.
“It’s not an ideal situation for the best player not to defend his title, and to create your own organization is not good either,” said Ding, adding: “It’s better for the fans if the best players fight for the World Cup, and Magnus has, of course, been the best player over the years. We came to a new era. “
Ding said he hopes Carlsen will “return one day” and felt that reaching the highest possible competition also gives himself a new responsibility: “I have to improve my English now!”