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Magnus Carlsen has kept the world crown which the Norwegian, who turns 28 on Friday, has held since 2013. His tense €1m series in London against his US challenger Fabiano Caruana, 26, proved a tight struggle between evenly matched opponents where all 12 classical games were halved.
But Carlsen is in a class of his own in speed chess and in tie-breaks. His 3-0 victory in the rapid games, which are now used to decide a drawn series, was his tenth straight tie-break victory since 2007. His growing legend puts him in the eyes of many in the all-time top three alongside Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.
Carlsen is not without critics. His opening preparation, a vital aspect of championship chess, was clearly inferior to that of Caruana, who will rue his failure to clinch a dominant position in game eight.
Carlsen’s next title defence will be in 2020, against the winner of an eight-player candidates event. The favourite for that will again be Caruana, if the American can maintain his ambition. His likely rival will be Ding Liren, who recently completed a 100-game unbeaten sequence and is the focus for China’s plan to capture the individual world crown alongside team gold.
The old Soviet coaches used this puzzle as a talent test. The white queen has to capture all four black pawns before or when they reach their queening squares. It’s not hard, so their pupils had to do it within three minutes. How do you compare?
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