A demotivated Magnus Carlsen will give up the world chess title

Magnus Carlsen is the world chess champion and, by acclamation, one of the best players in history.

But on Wednesday he said he would not compete in next year’s world championship, voluntarily giving up the title he has held since winning it in 2013 aged 22.

Now 31 and a five-time world champion, Carlsen said he was “pretty comfortable” with the decision, which he said he thought about for “more than a year”.

“I’m not motivated to play another game; I just feel like I don’t have much to gain,” he said on the first episode of his new podcast, The Magnus Effect.

“Although I’m sure a game would be interesting for historical reasons and all that, I have no desire to play, and I just won’t play the game.”

Carlsen made the announcement on International Chess Day.

Carlsen was scheduled to defend his title against Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi in 2023. Now Nepomniachtchi will instead face Chinese Ding Liren, with the winner claiming the vacant title.

Carlsen said he doesn’t particularly enjoy playing in the World Championship, which is played out as a 12-14 match head-to-head battle over several weeks. He won his last title by beating Nepomniachtchi in December in Dubai.

“The games themselves were sometimes interesting, sometimes a little fun,” Carlsen said. “But overall I feel like it’s my time to quit the World Championship matches.”

Carlsen said he would continue to play competitive chess.

“I really like playing tournaments,” he said on the podcast. “Obviously I enjoy them a lot more than the World Championship, and frankly I don’t see myself stopping as a chess player anytime soon.” He said he was heading to Croatia for a tournament later on Wednesday.

Carlsen became a grandmaster at 13 and the world’s highest rated player at 19. He won the world title in 2013, dethroning Viswanathan Anand, and defended it four times, beating Anand again, then Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana and more recently Nepomniachtchi.

Carlsen’s absence will leave a huge hole at the top of the chess world. He is by far the biggest star in the game, and his name is probably the only one known to many with an occasional interest in the game. This recognition allowed him to expand his brand and fortune through a series of teaching ventures. and selling the game.

His maximum score of 2882 is the highest ever. Chess.com selected him this year as the second best player of all time, behind Garry Kasparov and one place ahead of Bobby Fischer.

“Magnus isn’t tired, but I think he’s bored with too many games,” Kasparov told the St. Louis Chess Club earlier this month.

Carlsen has been interested in poker for the past few years, and he performed in the main event at the World Series of Poker last week. Indeed, his Wednesday podcast began with a discussion about poker and Las Vegas, and he kept his announcement about relinquishing the world title until 50 minutes had passed.

Carlsen is one of a small handful of high-profile sports figures who walked away when they were at the top of their game. Many of them eventually came back.

“I don’t rule out a return in the future,” he said on Wednesday. “But I wouldn’t particularly rely on that either.”

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