Magnus Carlsen is the world’s top-ranked chess player, but his firm seat at the top may be in jeopardy after two upset losses during the Qatar Masters 2023.
Carlsen has long been a force in the chess world, with his nigh-untouchable 2887 ranking. His standing as the best of the best may be at risk following two losses during the Qatar Masters 2023. Both these defeats came from players with rankings below 2620.
2023 has been a difficult year for Carlsen after repeatedly implying that opponents are cheating after defeats. This included a lawsuit from Hans Niemann, who Carlsen accused of cheating after being defeated. Qatar Masters 2023 has seen Magnus Carlsen facing more scrutiny at the table, including a loss to a player just barely in the grandmaster ranking. This isn’t the end of Carlsen’s reign as the best chess player but it’s a surprising skid for him.
Who beat Magnus Carlsen in the Qatar Masters 2023?
Magnus Carlsen lost to Alisher Suleymenov (2512) and Karthikeyan Murali (2611) during Qatar Masters 2023.
Controversy surrounded Carlsen’s loss to Suleymenov, with Carlsen stating that the lower-ranked player’s analog watch distracted him, causing the loss. Carlsen continued by stating that wearing an analog watch should be banned under FIDE rules. There was no accusation of cheating, just that the watch distracted him enough to result in a loss.
The loss to Alisher Suleymenov is the first time Magnus Carlsen has lost against a player rated lower than 2520 since the Norwegian Championship in 2006.
Alisher Suleymenov is a Kazakhstani grandmaster ranked 606 in the world. The 23-year-old made grandmaster in 2023, and only started his professional chess career in 2019. Suleymenov doesn’t have many competitions under his belt, making his win over Carlsen even more surprising.
Carlsen’s other loss during the Qatar Masters 2023 was to Karthikeyan Murali, ranked 2611 in round seven. Hailing from India, Karthikeyan sits at 163 in the world at 24 years old. He has been grandmaster rank since 2015 and is the third Indian player to defeat Carlsen. In January 2019, Karthikeyan got second place in the Gibraltar Masters tournament with a field of over 250 players.
What is the Qatar Masters 2023?
The Qatar Masters 2023 is part of the Qatar Master Open chess event held by the Qatar Chess Association. It was first held in 2014.
After an eight-year hiatus from the second Qatar Master tournament in 2015, the Qatar Chess Association decided to bring back the tournament for its third year. Consisting of nine rounds, the tournament is currently underway and runs until October 20. The event has a total prize pool of $130,00, with $27,000 going to the winner.
The tournament is still ongoing, with the final round slated to start at 6 a.m. EST, 3 a.m. PST on October 20. The final round and results of the Qatar Masters 2023 can be seen on Chess.com.