Chess king declines world title showdown with Russian rival


Magnus Carlsen says he will not compete in next year’s world title clash with Ian Nepomniachtchi

Norwegian great Magnus Carlsen will not compete in the 2023 World Championship match with Russian rival Ian Nepomniachtchi, it has been confirmed. Defending champion Carlsen had been asked to confirm his participation by chess authority FIDE by a July 20 deadline, in a dispute over the format of the event.

Competing under neutral status, Nepomniachtchi had earned the right to meet Carlsen by winning the FIDE Candidates Tournament earlier this month.

The Russian, 32, was Carlsen’s opponent when the world title was last up for grabs in 2021, but the Norwegian comfortably saw off his rival for a fifth world championship in a row.

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(Miguel Pereira/Getty Images)
Russian Grandmaster sets up world title clash with Carlsen

It had been reported in recent weeks that Carlsen was unlikely to defend his title again due to unhappiness over the format of the competition and the months of intense preparation.

Carlsen, 31, is said to have wanted the classic match format to be speeded up.

“Ultimately the conclusion stands, one that I’m pretty comfortable with, one that I’ve thought a lot about for a long time now, I would say more than a year, probably a year and a half almost, since long before the last match,” said Carlsen in comments detailing his decision and shared by

“And I’ve spoken to people in my team, I’ve spoken to FIDE, I spoke to Ian as well. And the conclusion is, yeah, it’s very simple, that I am not motivated to play another [World Championship] match.

“I simply feel that I don’t have a lot to gain, I don’t particularly like it, and although I’m sure a match would be interesting for historical reasons and all of that, I don’t have any inclination to play and I will simply not play the match.”

Carlsen clarified that he was not retiring from chess but was simply opting out of another World Championship showdown.

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With Carlsen declining the defense of his title, Nepomniachtchi will now meet China’s Ding Liren, who finished runner-up at the Candidates Tournament in Madrid.

FIDE had asked Carlsen to confirm his position by July 20 – which is International Chess Day.

Carlsen is widely considered among the greatest chess players of all time. He was first crowned world champion in 2013 and defended his title on four subsequent occasions.

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