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Chess world champion Magnus Carlsen renounces title

Schach world champion Magnus Carlsen will renounce his title and will not defend it in spring 2023 as planned. “I lack the motivation for another title fight,” said the 31-year-old Norwegian in a video podcast published by his sponsor on Wednesday.

However, Carlsen wants to continue his chess career and has not ruled out a World Championship comeback at a later date. Among other things, he will represent his home country at the Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India, this year.

After his most recent successful title defense in December 2021 against Jan Nepomnjaschtschi from Russia, he had indicated that he only wanted to compete in the World Cup duel again if the French-Iranian talent Alireza Firouzja won the Candidates Tournament. There, however, Nepomnjaschchi emerged victorious, who is now to fight against the second-placed Chinese Ding Liren for the world championship crown in the game of kings.

Carlsen also reported that he was recently in Madrid for talks with the world chess association Fide. He came without demands or suggestions, but to communicate his renunciation. “We had a little discussion. You made a few suggestions. I liked some, I didn’t like others. But my decision stands,” emphasized Carlsen. He had been thinking about this for a year and a half.

Fide President Arkady Dvorkovich showed understanding for the result of the reflection: “Magnus Carlsen deserves nothing but respect from Fide and from the entire chess community, whatever decision he makes regarding his career.” Many other great champions in other sports have experienced similar things: As the years go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the motivation to train and compete at the highest level, while the rewards of victory never feel as intense as on day one.

Carlsen won the World Championship for the first time in 2013 against Viswanathan Anand and successfully defended against the Indian the following year. In 2016 he defeated Sergej Karjakin (Russia), in 2018 the American Fabiano Caruana. “He’s still young and could have possibly added more classic titles to his already outstanding career,” said Dvorkovich. “His decision not to defend his title is undoubtedly a disappointment for fans and bad news for the spectacle. It leaves a big gap.” At the same time, the President emphasized: “Chess is now stronger than ever – thanks in part to Magnus” – and the World Championship fight will continue.

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