World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen Says He Won’t Defend Title in 2023: NPR


Magnus Carlsen of Norway competes in the FIDE World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 10, 2021.

Jon Gambrell/AP


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Jon Gambrell/AP

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen Says He Won't Defend Title in 2023: NPR

Magnus Carlsen of Norway competes in the FIDE World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 10, 2021.

Jon Gambrell/AP

Magnus Carlsen, who has been ranked world No. 1 in chess since 2011, announced on Wednesday that he will not defend his world championship title.

“The conclusion is very simple, I’m not motivated to play another match,” said the five-time world champion on his podcast, The Magnus Effect. League matches are held every two years with the next scheduled for 2023.

“I just feel like I don’t have much to gain,” Carlsen added. “I don’t particularly like it, and although I’m sure a game would be interesting for historical reasons and all that, I have no desire to play and I just won’t play the game.”

Carlsen, a 31-year-old Norwegian, last won the championship in 2021. Ian Nepomniachtchi won the Candidates Tournament, which ended on July 5 in Madrid. This event is held every two years to see who will play against the defending champion for the world title.

He was expected to have a rematch in 2023 with Nepomniachtchi, whom he defeated at the 2021 World Championship.

Carlsen said he held a meeting with the president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Arkady Dvorkovich, and the director general of FIDE. Emil Sutovsky to tell them he couldn’t defend his title.

The pair came up with suggestions, Carlsen said, “but ultimately the conclusion is valid, one that I’m quite comfortable with, one that I’ve been thinking about a lot for a long time now, I would say, over a year. – probably a year and a half almost.”

FIDE said Carlsen has not officially withdrawn from the championship game.

Magnus Carlsen deserves nothing but the respect of FIDE and the entire chess community, no matter what career decision he makes,” Dvorkovich said in a statement Wednesday. “Only a handful of people in history can understand and assess the enormous toll it takes to play five games for the title.”

Carlsen said he never had any goals to win a world title.

He was unmotivated in the 2016 World Championship match, his third world title, and mostly did it because of other people’s expectations. The fourth and fifth titles meant nothing to him, Carlsen said.

“It was nothing,” he said. “I was happy with the job I had done. I was happy not to have lost the game, but that was it.”

Carlsen said he is always grateful for the opportunities World matches have brought him and does not retreat from setbacks.

He will still play this year’s Grand Chess Tour matches in Croatia and St. Louis, Mo., the Chess Olympiad in India and the FTX Crypto Cup in Miami.

“I do not rule out a return [to the world championship] in the future, but I wouldn’t particularly count on that either,” he said.


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