World champion Magnus Carlsen (left) faces Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi at the Fide World Chess Championship Dubai 2021 on December 8 © AFP/Getty Images

Magnus Carlsen has taken a near-decisive 6.5-3.5 lead in the €2m world title match in Dubai after Ian Nepomniachtchi missed chances before losing their 136-move marathon sixth game — the longest in championship history.

The Russian challenger then blundered badly in two of the next three games, leaving Carlsen needing just one point from the final four games to retain the crown he first won in 2013.

Victory for the 31-year-old Norwegian looks imminent, and it is unlikely that all three of this weekend’s games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (12.30 BST start) will be needed. Games are live and free to watch, with grandmaster commentaries on several websites.

Chess24 has three-time British champion David Howell for inexperienced players and newcomers, with world No 7 Anish Giri and all-time No1 woman Judit Polgar analysing for experts. The official Fide site offers shrewd analysis by the former champion Vishy Anand, while has an all-American team headed by the US world No 4, Fabiano Caruana.

Carlsen predicted before the match that his opponent might react poorly to defeat — and so it has proved. Nepomniachtchi’s choice of the closed Ruy Lopez, where Carlsen has not lost a game as Black for six years, proved insipid, while the challenger has played too quickly at critical moments.

This will be the most impressive match victory of Carlsen’s career, and strengthens his growing claims to be the all-time No 1 ahead of Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer.

Puzzle 2448

Magnus Carlsen vs Vishy Anand, Zurich blitz 2014. White to move and win. The world champion chose 1 c2-c3. Can you do better?

Click here for solution

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