Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen was once again crowned world chess champion for the third straight year Wednesday. He defeated Russia’s Sergey Karjakin in a tiebreaker consisting of four high-speed games, with each player given a total of 25 minutes for their moves, and an additional 10 seconds for every move.
The match was held in New York City and saw both players starting off aggressively. “I had all sorts of negative thoughts in my head,” Carlsen said, after the win. “It was very difficult to settle down.”
However, as the match advanced, Karjakin could not keep up with the defending champion. Carlsen, who also celebrated his 26th birthday Wednesday, used a queen sacrifice to checkmate Karjakin, also 26, in the fourth tiebreaker game.
“I’m very happy that at the end of the match I managed to find joy in playing,” Carlsen said, adding, “That’s the most important thing.”
The $1.1 million prize was divided between both players, with Carlsen receiving 60 percent of it. Following his win, fans and supporters cheered Carlsen with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
“It’s one of the highest-quality matches on both sides,” Lev Alburt, a grandmaster who has followed championship matches since 1954, told the New York Times. “Even the fact of many draws, almost all have been achieved in very sharp play. Both players are trying to squeeze something almost from nothing. Where other players would play safe, both keep playing for a win, creating problems for their opponent at a risk to themselves.
“It’s one of the most exciting championship matches in history,” Alburt said. “If you’re a beginner, you can learn a lot, and if you’re a grandmaster, you can learn a lot.”
Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgar likened the four quick games to Russian roulette. “Today, the faster games are a great show even for people who don’t know the game,” Polgar said.
The game was also the first world championship competition to be held in New York since 1995, and fans paid $100 to enter and see their favorites in action.