NEW YORK — Magnus Carlsen defeated Sergey Karjakin on Wednesday to retain his World Chess Championship title.
Carlsen, from Norway, turned 26 on Wednesday, making the victory a great birthday present. This is the third time he has claimed the biggest trophy in chess.
His 25-year-old Russian challenger was a worthy foe. Through 12 classical games, he held tough, scoring a win and briefly putting Carlsen on the ropes.
But Carlsen stormed back and evened the match with a win of his own. Draws then sent the match to tiebreaks.
In those four 25-minute games, Carlsen edge became apparent. Karjakin consistently got into time trouble, not something that you want to happen in “rapid” chess. After a draw in the first game and a miraculous escape by Karjakin, playing black, when Carlsen was on the verge of checkmate in the second game, Karjakin ran out of time in the third, and Carlsen had the decisive point he needed.
With the black pieces in Game 4, Karjakin tried the fighting Sicilian Defence for the first time in the match. It’s an opening he’s played many times, but it’s risky in rapid because although it gives black good winning chances, it demands quite a bit of calculation to establish an edge.
The edge didn’t materialise and Karjakin again low on time, amid several flurries of moves with less than minute on his clock. With a checkmate in eight moves on the board, according the computer analysis, and a potentiallly brilliant queen sacrifice in the works from Carlsen, Karjakin resigned.
Carlsen retained his title, and Karjakin proved himself to have been a hard-fighting, tenacious opponent.
The final position:
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