Chess history approaches the end of an era as GM Magnus Carlsen, for the first time since 2013, will soon no longer be the world champion. He played what is expected to be his final classical game while holding the title on Sunday, March 5. While he will continue to play classical chess and is the number-one rated player in the world, a new world champion will be crowned in May at the FIDE World Chess Championship 2023.
Over the weekend, Carlsen played three games at the Norwegian Team League 2022-2023 in Oslo. Representing his chess club, Offerspill, the world champion played White and won his first two games against Norwegian players, FM Levi Andre Tallaksen and GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, before making a draw with Black against English GM David Howell.
His relationship with the latter extends beyond 20 years, to childhood when they competed in world-class junior events, making it a memorable ending to one chapter in Carlsen’s life and the history of chess.
All Games | Magnus Carlsen
In an interview after his game with Howell, Kaja Snare asked Carlsen if this was a special day for him. He responded: “Not really. Well, in terms of league, yes, but in terms of world championship, I’ve sort of mentally been finished with that a while ago.”
Asked about how he felt about the prospect of no longer holding the world title in classical chess, he replied: “I still have two titles,” alluding to the fact that he is still the world champion of blitz and rapid chess.
After the draw, Howell said: “Obviously it’s an honor to be a part of history like that, but I really wanted to put more pressure on. I wanted to win … kind of mixed feelings. But I can’t complain too much.” He mentioned that he has still not beaten a reigning world champion.
Carlsen’s team ultimately won the lengthy team tournament, which started in November 2022. His rating increased nearly one point (+0.6) from these three games, leaving him at 2852. The world’s number-two player, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, is rated 2795.
Offerspill featured several other top grandmasters, including GMs Jorden van Foreest, Praggnanandhaa R, and Aryan Tari.
(See full results here.)
IM Levy Rozman made a video analyzing the final two games, embedded below.
With the exception of possible Titled Tuesday appearances, Carlsen’s next major event will likely be the Champions Chess Tour Event 2, which is scheduled for April 3-7. By winning Division I of the first event, Carlsen has qualified to Division I of that event as well.