Carlsen retains his chess title

After a string of draws, the Norwegian crushed challenger Caruana in rapid play

Magnus Carlsen

Photo: World Chess press office / Wikimedia Commons
Woody Harrelson starts the first game of World Chess Championship 2018 (Fabiano Caruana vs. Magnus Carlsen) on Nov. 9.

Pieter Wijnen
Norway Today

Magnus Carlsen defended his World Champion title with bravado against the challenger Fabiano Caruana. The final games were decided with three straight victories in Rapid Chess.

After the triumph, Carlsen spent a relatively long time with his strategist Peter Heine Nielsen (Denmark) and his father Henrik before appearing in the interview zone.

“I am very happy. It was a very, very good day at the office,” Magnus Carlsen told NRK.

“The first party was even and exciting, but I managed to trick him when we were short on time. The second game was complicated, but I had faith, even though I did not feel that my position was strong. The last game was a bit more nerve-racking. My Rapid Chess form is at least good,” Carlsen said.

“He is the strongest player I’ve met, because I did not win a single party in classic chess. I never felt like I was close to winning the match before today. Fortunately, I was the best today,” he concluded.

Caruana feels quite differently.

“I had a bad day and did not play well. In the first and third game, I was at least in with a chance, but the game where I played white turned into a disaster. It was obviously disappointing, but I was not near his level today and he won deservedly,” Caruana told NRK.

“We have never experienced this before in a World Championship,” the broadcaster’s chess expert, Atle Grønn, exclaimed after the crushing victory.

While the two opponents drew in the 12 classical encounters, the ruling champion annihilated his American challenger when the thinking time was reduced to 25 minutes. A small mistake in each of the first two games by the American was enough for Carlsen to rejoice.

In the third battle, Carlsen thwarted a desperate offensive from Caruana and prevailed even though two draws would have sufficed.

This is the third time Carlsen has retained the title he captured from Vishy Anand (India) in Chennai, India, in 2013. He beat Anand once more in Sochi, Russia, in 2014; Sergey Karjakin in New York in 2016; and now Caruana closer to home in London.

Carlsen last week celebrated seven years as the World Champion and has surpassed the Cuban legend José Raul Capablanca. Capablanca ruled supreme for six years from 1921 to 1927.

It’s the fourth time Carlsen has won the World Championships, two fewer than Emanuel Lasker and Garry Kasparov.

This article originally appeared in the December 14, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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