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Magnus Carlsen still on top despite World Chess Champion change

Magnus Carlsen chess

The game of chess has a long history, so it says a lot when a player is able to claim that he’s among the best ever to play it. Such is the case with the great Magnus Carlsen.

With a long career already full of immense accomplishments in competitive chess and many competitive years potentially still ahead of him, Carlsen has established himself in a way that few chess players ever have. Now, his popularity is rapidly catching up to his skill in the age of online chess and livestreaming.

Is Magnus Carlsen the reigning World Chess Champion?

While Magnus Carlsen previously held the title of World Chess Champion for a decade, he is not the current World Chess Champion. That title is now held by Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren, who defeated Ian Nepomniatchi in the 2023 World Chess Championship.

Despite his losing the title of world champion, Carlsen was never actually beaten for it. Carlsen was very open with the media and public in explaining that he was uncertain about participating in another World Chess Championship cycle given the intense amount of preparatory work required.

As the World Chess Championship is played using the long-form classical time control, players have plenty of time to consider each and every move they make on the board. With the high number of games played between the two contenders, and the months of advanced preparation available to each of them, this makes for a real grind for champion and challenger alike.

Carlsen competed in his first World Chess Championship in 2013, challenging then-champion Viswanathan Anand. Carlsen won in a one-sided affair, setting up a decade of dominance for the Norwegian chess champion.

He would go on to defend his World Chess Champion title in 2014 over Viswanathan Anand again, in 2016 over Sergey Karjakin, in 2018 over Fabiano Caruana, and in 2021 over Ian Nepomniatchi. Carlsen had discussed the possibility of participating in the 2023 World Chess Championship if he was sufficiently intrigued by the new challenger, but after Ding Liren won the right to challenge for that championship, Carlsen decided to move on and withdraw.

Is Magnus Carlsen the greatest chess player of all time?

Magnus Carlsen is in the conversation for the greatest of all time in chess.

Carlsen is definitively ranked as the best active chess player today, boasting an ELO chess rating of over 2800. Even so, chess is in a constant state of evolution and Carlsen is still in his 30s. For context, Garry Kasparov, the person many deem to be the all-time greatest chess player, retired at age 42.

That’s fairly young when compared to other grandmasters who played well into their 50s. All this to say, GOATs come in herds, and Carlsen isn’t an old GOAT just yet. It remains to be seen how his career stacks against the likes of Kasparov and Fischer in historical conversations.

What is Magnus Carlsen’s rating?

Magnus Carlsen has consistently held some of the best chess ratings in the world, regardless of time format. That holds true today, even as Carlsen’s competitive results have somewhat slipped compared to his past dominance.

Carlsen’s peak rating for classical chess was 2882, first achieved in May 2014, and then achieved again in August 2019. His ability to reach that rating not once, but twice, and to do so more than five years apart, speaks to his dominance and consistency.

Carlsen openly flirted with the idea of pushing for a 3000 rating in classical, but he seems to have scuttled the idea for the time being.

Norway’s World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen competes in the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, India, Saturday, July 30, 2022. The Olympiad will run through Aug. 10. (AP Photo)

His highest rating in the rapid time format is 2909, achieved in August 2017, proving his versatility. Further showing his ability to excel in various time controls is his peak blitz rating of 2986, a truly astronomical rating, achieved in December 2017.

Carlsen’s ratings have each fallen a bit in recent years, but each remains over 2800 and he is still one of the highest-ranked chess players in the world across all time formats.

What is Magnus Carlsen’s favorite chess opening?

Magnus Carlsen favors the king’s pawn opening, regardless of whether he’s white or black.

Magnus Carlsen is a highly versatile player but his most preferred openings involve the king’s pawn opening. This opening is one of the most popular first moves at any level of the game. It involves moving the pawn in front of the king forward two spaces.

The reason for his preference is that it opens up plenty of avenues for attack and defense. Carlsen doesn’t go for flashy tactical victories. Instead, he opts to grind out the game through positioning and preparation. 

The king’s pawn opening immediately establishes control over the center with no risks and a moderate reward. It’s a perfect move for a cerebral player like Carlsen.

What is the shortest game of Magnus Carlsen’s career?

Magnus Carlsen played to a draw against Vidit Gujrathi, ending the game in only five moves.

While this sounds like an exciting match, it’s actually quite amusing in context. Magnus Carlsen was feeling unwell that day due to food poisoning so he communicated his intent to draw by playing an opening that would draw both players. Gujrathi, noticing Carlsen’s discomfort, accepted the proposal. After all, it’s not every day that the best in the world offers a draw. 

Gujrathi is no slouch, of course, being a chess grandmaster himself with an ELO rating of over 2700. It should be noted that Gujrathi handed Carlsen a loss in 2023 in the Pro Chess League, a rapid-style tourney. 

Who has Magnus Carlsen lost to in the World Chess Championship?

Magnus Carlsen has never lost in the World Chess Championship despite competing in the event five times in his career.

Carlsen has lost individual games while competing in the World Chess Championship, but he has never lost an overall match at the event. His strong record at the event is part of his claim as one of chess’ greatest players.

Carlsen refused to defend the title in 2023, having lost motivation to defend the championship in a format where he feels he’s thoroughly proven himself as the best already. Carlsen forfeited the title to Ding Liren after the Chinese player’s victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Does Magnus Carlsen own chess.com?

Magnus Carlsen does not own Chess.com, but is a brand ambassador for the site.

Although Magnus Carlsen does not own Chess.com, he’s still a businessman in his own right. On top of the millions of dollars in prize money he gets from winning chess matches, he was the co-founder of the Play Magnus Group. 

The Play Magnus Group was acquired by Chess.com in 2022 for $80 million. The company had many different arms, including a number of competing chess websites.

What is Magnus Carlsen’s age?

Magnus Carlsen was born on November 30, 1990 and at the time of this publication, his age is 32. Amazingly, he managed to achieve most of his great accomplishments before even reaching the age of 30.

Carlsen has never been limited in his greatness by his youth. At the age of 18, he became the youngest player ever to reach a classical chess rating of 2800. One year later, at the age of 19, he would become the youngest player ever to be ranked number one in the official FIDE world rankings.

As impressive as those feats were, they were only a sign of things to come. It was three years later when Magnus would win his first World Chess Championship in 2013.

What is Magnus Carlsen’s net worth?

Magnus Carlsen’s net worth is regularly estimated to be over $50 million. There are no confirmed numbers on his net worth. 

The chess star’s success led him to legitimate fame even before chess’ popularity boomed in the 2020s. He was featured in Forbes’ European 30 under 30 in 2020 thanks to his success on the table. Things have only gone up for him since.

Carlsen has won over $9 million in chess tournament prizes during his career. He has also likely earned millions of dollars every year from sponsors and exhibition matches, though exact amounts are unknown.

Does Magnus Carlsen have a wife?

Magnus Carlsen is currently unmarried but is likely dating a woman named Elisabet Lorentzen Djonne.

Magnus Carlsen was dating Djonne in 2019, but he doesn’t draw much attention to their relationship. It’s unknown if they are still together or when they first began dating. Little is known about Djonne and she maintains a low profile on social media.

Are Magnus Carlsen’s claims of opponents cheating true?

No evidence of cheating on the part of Hans Niemann during his game with Magnus Carlsen.

Magnus Carlsen’s unexpected defeat at the hands of American wildcard Hans Niemann in the 2022 Sinquefield Cup was shocking, and came alongside commentary from fellow chess star Hikaru Nakamura that suggested Niemann cheated. Niemann admitted to cheating in online games during his teens.

Despite that, the methods used to cheat in online games simply wouldn’t work in a live game against Carlsen. The cheating accusations led to Niemann being banned by Chess.com. This was followed by Niemann filing a lawsuit against Carlsen, Nakamura, and Chess.com, alleging they had harmed his career. The lawsuit was thrown out in the courts and Niemann was eventually unbanned by Chess.com.

In 2023, Carlsen came short of saying an opponent cheated after starting a skid during the Qatar Masters tournament. Though Carlsen said his opponent won fairly, he also stated that their wristwatch distracted him because it could have been used to cheat.

Is Magnus Carlsen streaming on Twitch?

As chess has taken off in popularity with the rise of online chess play and chess streaming, Magnus Carlsen has joined in and is streaming on Twitch. His Twitch channel is more understated than many of the heavily-produced channels on Twitch, but he already has a massive following and has increasingly embraced the streaming lifestyle.

Carlsen is hardly the first popular chess player to garner a large audience on Twitch. One of his chief rivals in chess, Hikaru Nakamura, is arguably one of the most famous personalities on the platform today. But Carlsen’s entry has only further legitimized the presence of chess on Twitch.

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Written by Jared Wynne

Jared Wynne has been covering gaming and esports for the past two decades. He's a former competitor in Counter-Strike, and still counts it among his favorite games along with RPGs like Baldur's Gate and Mass Effect. He studied journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

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