Magnus Carlsen will not defend his world championship title in 2023 against Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi. The five-times winner will instead concentrate on trying to become the first player ever to reach the heights of a 2900 rating, a target which he has already narrowly missed twice.

Carlsen explained, in a podcast for his sponsor Unibet: “I am not motivated to play another match. I feel that I don’t have a lot to gain, and I will simply not play.” He said that he had thought long and hard about his decision, since well before the 2021 series where he beat Nepomniachtchi without loss of a game.

Carlsen may have made a shrewd move in the context of whether he or Garry Kasparov ranks as the greatest player of all time. He can now concentrate on the events he likes best, and in the next two months he will be playing in major tournaments in Zagreb, Chennai, Miami, and St Louis.

Bobby Fischer in 1975 renounced his Fide championship title, and then retired apart from a brief comeback in 1992. Kasparov broke with Fide in 1993, and the schism was not healed for more than a decade. 

The latter is the closer parallel, and Kasparov then set up a rival organisation. Carlsen has given no indication of doing so, but his chief aide Peter Heine Nielsen is currently No2 in a ticket in next month’s Fide election, while his Play Magnus Group controls the important Chess24 and Chessable websites and has a huge network of contacts among organisations and potential sponsors.

The 2023 world title match will now be between Nepomniachtchi and China’s world No 2 Ding Liren. This could prove a low-key affair, with a risk that it ends up like the last world women’s championship, half in Shanghai and half in Vladivostok.

Meanwhile, Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi had a quick draw on Wednesday in round one at Zagreb. They will meet again at five-minute blitz, easily viewable live and free online, on Saturday at 1630 and Sunday at 1530.

England’s team is seeded 10th at Chennai, where Russia is banned, China is absent due to Covid-19, the US is the hot favourite, and two Indian teams are the main challengers. England’s Michael Adams and Luke McShane are warming up this week at Dortmund, where both have begun well. McShane advanced to 2/2 in the Deutschland Grand Prix by a fine win against the Czech No1.

Puzzle 2478

Magnus Carlsen v Bu Xiangzhi, Biel 2007. White to move and win. How did the future world champion induce immediate resignation?

Click here for solution

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