After a gruelling 16 games and a painstaking 10 draws in the lead-up to the tiebreakers, the World Chess Championship has finally come to a close.
With the tiebreakers played under rapid time rules instead of the longer classical formats, the advantage was always going to go to defending champion Magnus Carlsen. And the Grandmaster and Norwegian model, who also happens to be the reigning World Rapid Champion and second best blitz player in the world, regularly found himself in favourable positions over the four tiebreakers thanks to solid pressure and superior time management.
Along with the honour of defending his title, Carlsen received €550,000 for his troubles. Sergey Karjakin, the underdog and runner-up, won €450,000 for his efforts over the championship marathon. He also won plenty of plaudits for his defence during the second match.
The Russian was behind going into the middle game ahead, on position and time, and after 22 moves he had less than 5 minutes remaining on the clock. That would be whittled down to 48 seconds by the 34th move, but the Russian somehow managed to hold out, forcing a stalemate on the 84th move:
The third match opened in a similar fashion to the rest of the championship series, but the pressure of the clock eventually began to wear. Karkajin’s position weakened as he struggled to battle the pressures of the clock and the defending champion, and he eventually finished the third game with three seconds on the clock – and a match down.
After a win and two draws, Karjakin was forced on the offensive. Because Carlsen had won the previous game as Black, he couldn’t lose – but if you’re behind anyway, you might as well adopt a hyper-aggressive strategy for the fun of it.
And if you’re already ahead and can’t lose, you might as well cap off the final match by sacrificing your Queen in the final move.
So for the next two years, Magnus Carlsen is the world’s chess champion. It also caps off one of the longest championships in recent times: Carlsen won the 2014 championships by the 11th game, while the 2013 championships were decided in 10 games. The last time the world championships went into tiebreakers was in 2012, with Viswanathan Anand taking it home in the first four rapid tiebreaker matches.
The next World Chess Championship will be decided starting on November 7, 2018, with a candidates tournament held on March 8-29 of that year to determine Carlsen’s opponent.