Carlsen Wins; Retains World Championship

GM Magnus Carlsen has retained his World Chess Championship on Friday after defeating challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in the 11th game of their match.

Faced with a nearly insurmountable task, Nepomniachtchi decided to switch gears with the white pieces and enter the Italian Game instead of the Ruy Lopez.

Carlsen took the game off the beaten path with his 6. ...a5 and especially 7. ...Ba7, although after the bishops were exchanged, the position was not atypical for the Modern Italian.

It looked like the position was beginning to dry out after 20. d4, but after Carlsen's 22. ... Rf4, Nepomniachtchi was visibly nonplussed. Soon he bashed out the losing 23. g3??, and the Internet exploded.

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After Carlsen gave up the exchange with 23. ... dxe3 24. gxf4 Qxg4+ the position was as good as lost. Faced with a number of winning continuations, Carlsen chose the safest path, eventually trading down into a rook and pawn ending that was clearly winning, but that would also require some work.

Carlsen transitioned into an endgame with queen against rook right after the time control. Nepomniachtchi struggled on for a total of 49 moves, but in the end, he extended his hand and resigned.

When chess historians look back at this match, it's clear that the main narrative will center around Nepomniachtchi's blunders and collapse. But there is an alternative world in which, if he had been able to find a few key moves in the sixth game, the match outcome might have been very different. Chess, like any other sport, is a game where psychology matters. Clearly Nepomniachtchi was not able to adjust to the new situation, and he crumbled, but there was also a first half of the match that was intensely and well fought.

GM Elshan Moradiabadi has the honors of annotating the first and last games of the match for CLO. Take it away, Elshan!



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