Magnus Carlsen dethrones Viswanathan Anand as world chess champion

November 22, 2013

World number one Magnus Carlsen toppled local favourite Viswanathan Anand in Chennai to add the world chess championship title to his already impressive resume on Friday.

A draw in the crucial 10th game after 65 moves of play gave the young Norwegian an unassailable lead in the 12-match contest and put an end to Anand’s hopes of retaining the FIDE title he’s held since 2007.

Carlsen, about a week shy of his 23rd birthday, led 6-3 before Friday’s game and needed just a draw to become the first champion from the West since American Bobby Fischer’s reign ended in 1975.

“I really hope that this could have positive effects for chess both in Norway and worldwide,” Carlsen said at the post-match news conference.

Anand, who has slumped to eighth in the rankings, did not win a game in a series billed as the “War of the Wizards”. In this battle of youth and experience that kicked off on Nov. 9, both players started out with draws before the Norwegian won the fifth and sixth games to pull ahead. Anand drew the next two games before Carlsen prevailed in the ninth.

On Friday, Anand was playing with black pieces — a disadvantage as white moves firstand could not make much headway in a game that lasted nearly five hours.

The world title was the one accomplishment that had eluded Carlsen, often called the “Mozart of chess”. He earned the right to challenge Anand by virtue of winning the candidates’ tournament in April.

The baby-faced Norwegian wasn’t even born when Anand became India’s first grandmaster in 1988 and was just 10 when Anand won the first of his five world titles in 2000.

A grandmaster since he was 13, Carlsen now has the highest rating in the history of the game, breaking chess great Garry Kasparov’s record this year. He became the world’s number one at age 19, the youngest player ever to do so.

Kasparov, who coached Carlsen for a while, described him as “a type of Harry Potter” destined “to leave a deep mark” on the game.

A household name in India, Anand is widely credited with firing up the nation’s passion for chess more than two decades ago. Friday’s result was a disappointment for the 43-year-old, who had been the undisputed world champion since 2007.

“This year, I’ve had a lot of problems with mistakes creeping into my game,” Anand said at the post-match news conference.

“(Losing) the fifth game was a heavy blow,” he said, adding that it was time for him “to take stock”.

The 2013 championship, played on a glass-encased, soundproof stage at five-star hotel in Chennai, drew unprecedented media interest, despite reams of newsprint and TV coverage devoted to Sachin Tendulkar’s swansong series happening concurrently in cricket-crazy India.

More than 100 million TV viewers in India and Norway watched the chess championship broadcast, organisers said on the championship website.

This year, the chess title comes with a cash prize of $1.5 million for Carlsen while Anand will receive around $1 million.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty; Follow Tony on Twitter @tonytharakan and Amlan @amlan_reutersThis article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission)

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Chess is a fascinating sport. The Indian government has plenty to be proud of.

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