Stay in Focus with Us
Updated: March 11, 2023

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen Draws Final Classical Game Against David Howell

The 32-year-old, who is relinquishing his world title, chose the Norwegian League for his last three classical games and will not return to the format until late May.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen chose the Norwegian League in Oslo last weekend for his three final classical games as world champion. The world No. 1 won two games as White, one by crushing his opponent and the other by transforming a draw into a win in the endgame before halving his final game as Black against England's David Howell.

The mission was completed. Carlsen stepped down from the throne on a high note, and he also helped his club, Offerspill, become Norwegian champions for the first time by winning all nine of their matches. To be sure, Offerspill fielded three other elite GMs in their final match, which they won 4-2. The decisive weekend games were held at Ullevaal, Norway's national football stadium in Oslo.

Carlsen's next classical games will take place at Norway Chess in Stavanger beginning on May 27. By then, a new official world champion will have been crowned when Russia's world No. 2 Ian Nepomniachtchi meets China's world No. 3 Ding Liren in a €2 million, 14-game title match in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Carlsen's action has only one precedent. In 1975, Bobby Fischer resigned his Fide world title and was succeeded by Anatoly Karpov, who had won the Candidates the year before. After three face-to-face meetings, negotiations for a match between them stalled. The opposition of the USSR Sports Committee proved a barrier at the first, in Tokyo in 1976; the second, later that year in Córdoba, Spain, proved inconclusive; and their final attempt, in Washington in 1977, got as far as a draught agreement before Fischer refused to sign it.

Then, as Fischer ceased competing, Karpov won almost every tournament he entered, and the Russian became world No. 1 as well as champion. Carlsen maintains his popularity and No. 1 ranking and will compete in the online Champions Tour later this month.

Carlsen has stated several times in the past that he intends to retire from chess before the age of 40, but he also wants to remain No. 1 for longer than his rival as the greatest of all time, Garry Kasparov. From 1985 to 2005, Kasparov held the number one position for nearly 20 years, with two brief interruptions. Carlsen has been the world number one since 2010, with two brief interruptions for Vishy Anand. So he'd be 40 in 2030 or 2031, by which time there might be a clear No. 1 from the current adolescent generation.

Asked after his game with Howell whether it was a special day for him, Carlsen said: "In terms of the league, yes, but in terms of the world championship, I've been mentally finished with that a while ago. "I still hold two world championships [rapid and blitz]."

David Howell's draw with Carlsen capped off an impressive run for the England No 2, who won the individual gold medal at last year's Chennai Olympiad with 7.5/8 and a tournament performance rating of 2898, and has now followed that up with an unbeaten 7.5/9 (TPR 2749) in the Norwegian League.

Howell's Fide peak rating is 2712, but his most recent 15/17 sequence, averaging over 2800, suggests that his work as the lead commentator for the online Champions Tour, as well as his association with Carlsen, may have pushed him to new heights as a player.

The Fide Grand Swiss at the Villa Marina in Douglas, Isle of Man, in October-November, will be the key event for Howell this year, qualifying its two winners for the 2024 Candidates. Howell made late surges and was close to the Candidates in the final rounds of the 2019 and 2021 Grand Swisses. With the momentum of his recent successes, 2023 may be his year.

The European Individual Championship concludes this weekend in the Serbian spa town of Vrnjacka Banja. It appears that the five young English IMs aiming for GM norms will be disappointed, as they have scored 0/7 when paired with 2600+ rated GM opponents. Tristan Cox, a Warwickshire amateur, is the group's oldest player by more than a decade, having defeated four-time Ukraine champion Valeriy Neverov in the first round and has since defeated two more Fide-titled opponents.



Stay in the game with the latest sports updates and news stories!

Trending Articles