Magnus Carlsen suffered the worst defeat of his career last week as Norway’s world champion was crushed by Wesley So of the US in the first official title contest in Fischer Random. So won the final by a massive 13.5-2.5, a margin exaggerated by the scoring system.

Fischer Random means random piece placings on the back row and was devised 25 years ago by Bobby Fischer to combat book openings, which have since swollen much further due to online databases. It has 960 possible starting positions, and is fast gaining popularity among elite grandmasters. There are far fewer draws than in classical chess.

Carlsen had beaten his old rival Fabiano Caruana in the semi-final, but then his play sharply deteriorated in an echo of his failure in a recent speed event at St Louis. So’s achievement will be limited, though. The ex-Filipino is not among the eight candidates who will play in 2020 to decide Carlsen’s next challenger.

England, who won silver medals behind Russia at the world team championship in March, scored another fine result last week when they took bronze behind Russia and Ukraine at the European teams in Batumi, Georgia.


Daniil Dubov v Rasmus Svane, Russia v Germany, European teams 2019. White (to play) sacrificed a rook to drive the black king across the board in what has been nominated as ‘Game of the Year’. Can you find White’s only move to win?

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