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Magnus Carlsen Earns World Chess Champion Title in Chennai, India

Viswanathan Anand is no longer the chess champion of the world!  Having held the prestigious title since 2007, many had expected the Grandmaster to retain his distinction, especially as he was given the opportunity to defend the honor in his homeland of India.  However, a young chess sensation, 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen of Norway has managed to rise quickly up the ranks and put in an incredible display, defeating the 43 year old Anand and finally earning his rank as World Chess champion!

Magnus Carlsen has been something of a prodigy in chess circles for years.  He first became a Grandmaster of the game in 2004 at the tender age of 13, which made him the second youngest person to ever hold such a title.  His allure continued to blossom throughout the years, culminating him earning not only the top Elo rating worldwide this January, but also breaking the record.  This latest win will surely only continue to raise his bar even higher.

To earn his opportunity to face Anand, Carlsen had to compete in the Candidates Tournament, which took place in March and featured 8 of the world’s best chess players, including Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand, Peter Svidler, and Levon Aronian.  The tournament came down to the final matches, with Carlsen and Kramnik locked in a tie.  Both competitors actually lost their final match, leaving the tournament to be decided by a tiebreaker, and Carlsen held the advantage, putting him into the World Chess Champion match with Anand.

Viswanathan Anand earned his right to contend for the title based on his success in 2012, making him the titleholder and giving him the right to defend his title.  But many years ago Anand was also a child prodigy in chess, becoming a Grandmaster at age 18 and winning the World Junior Chess Championship in 1987.  He earned his first World Chess Champion title in 2000, and earned his second in 2007, against many of the same competitors that Carlsen has now beaten.  He had held the title until this past weekend, when Carlsen was able to defeat him.

The 2013 Chess Championship was scheduled to be a 12-match affair, and ran from the 9th of November until the 22nd.  It only lasted 10 matches before a winner was declared.  In past matches between Carlsen and Anand, there was a great deal of ties.  In fact, in the 29 matches between the two in their careers before the Championship matches, 20 were drawn.  Anand managed to win 6 while Carlsen was victorious just 3 times.  While Anand held a slim lead through their careers, there were many reasons to predict a Carlsen victory for the World Championship.

Carlsen has been soaring up the ratings table and has won countless tournaments, including the Sinquefield Cup in September, which featured impressive chess stars Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, and Gata Kamsky.  Meanwhile, Anand had clearly been struggling through poor performances earlier in the year.  In May, the player from India declared that he would not play a competitive match until the World Chess Championship in order to prepare.  It seems that the time off had left him rather unpolished and out of form for the highly anticipated matchup.

The first several matches in Chennai were very closely played, with both players probably suffering from early-tournament jitters.  Through rather conservative play, the first four matches were draws, coinciding with the pair’s even history.  However, Anand blinked first and Carlsen was able to take 2 straight wins in games 5 and 6.

His mistakes were quite terrible for a player of Anand’s standing, but such things can occur from time spent away from matches, and in the pressure of a World Chess Championship.  Reckless play in game 6 led to Anand sacrificing pawns, which ultimately led to his demise.

The next two matches were draws again, as Carlsen looked to defend his 2-point lead.  Fans expected Anand to come out more aggressive in these matches, but his cautious play could not break down the Norwegian.  He finally went with an aggressive approach in match 9, but became too focused on his attack to prevent Carlsen from queening a pawn and forcing a resignation from Anand.  Now 3 points ahead, Carlsen was just a single match away from the title.

In game 10, the players both traded away all their crucial pieces before the match was declared a draw, giving Magnus Carlsen the World Chess Champion title, and making him the second youngest player to win such a distinction.  Clearly, we have witnessed the arrival of a legendary chess grandmaster who will surely become a force in the sport for years to come.

The entire tournament was played on the fabulous World Championship Chess Set, which has grown immensely popular during the event.  Available through the Regency Chess Company, sales of this remarkable board have skyrocketed since pictures have floated around featuring the competitors using such a set.  It is a stunning chess set, with elegant simplicity and refined quality.  Surely, it has made the World Chess Championship proud!

And so where does the chess world go from here, given this incredible rise to prominence by the young and ever-talented Magnus Carlsen?  At just 22 years of age, his best days could very well be ahead of him.  Meanwhile, Viswanathan Anand will have to regroup and rediscover his true game.  It seems that the pressure to always defend his title finally got to him, and his mistakes were very peculiar given his tremendous play.  Still relatively young in the chess game at age 43, I suspect that Anand will make a tremendous comeback and return with great success.

However, he will surely have his work cut out for him as Magnus Carlsen is on the path to becoming possibly one of the greatest chess players that the world has ever seen!  Having already accomplished so much at such a young age, Carlsen could yet still improve his game.  And so as we bid farewell to what has been a dominating performance by Carlsen at the World Chess Championship in 2013, we have much to look forward to in the years ahead.  Additionally, with the World Championship Chess Set, players now can have an incredible board with which to play the game!

 

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