Five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen will NOT defend his title

Five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen will NOT defend his title

Five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen will NOT defend his title. Image: LINGTREN.COM/

MAGNUS CARLSEN, the five-time World Chess Champion, ended months of speculation on Wednesday, July 20 by announcing he will not defend his title.

Thirty-one-year-old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen is not retiring and vows “to be the best in the world, and not care about the World Championship!”

As reported by CHESS24.COM, that means Chinese world no. 2 Ding Liren’s last-round Candidates Tournament win against Hikaru Nakamura has earned him a lucrative match against Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Carlsen’s World Championship doubts

Magnus Carlsen, who has spent over a decade unbroken as chess world no. 1, has long had a love/hate relationship with the World Chess Championship. In The Magnus Carlsen Story, released in early 2021, he commented, “I will most probably play in 2021, and if I were to win, I’ve no idea whether I would play the next one”.

He did play in 2021, but almost immediately after winning his 5th title against Ian Nepomniachtchi in Dubai, he gave a podcast interview to his friend Magnus Barstad for his sponsor Unibet where he commented, “if someone other than Firouzja wins the Candidates Tournament it’s unlikely I will play the next World Championship match”.   

Magnus announces his decision

Nineteen-year-old Alireza Firouzja didn’t come close, and in a new podcast with the same host entitled “The Magnus Effect”, Magnus now reveals that his World Championship adventure is over, at least for now.

The World Champion explained: “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. 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 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,” he said.

Anatoly Karpov and Hou Yifan both gave up FIDE World Championship titles as they didn’t agree with the title being decided in a knockout, but you have to go back to Bobby Fischer in 1975 for the last player to give up the title rather than defend it in a match. The difference, however, is that Magnus had no demands that weren’t met.

Carlsen’s last-minute “negotiations” with FIDE

It was reported that Magnus Carlsen had a 40-minute meeting with the President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Arkady Dvorkovich and FIDE General Director Emil Sutovsky in Madrid on the final weekend of the Candidates Tournament, when it was already clear that Ian Nepomniachtchi would earn a World Championship rematch.

That meeting was widely thought to have been a discussion of what might make Magnus playing a new match possible, but Magnus explains it was mainly about communicating his decision.

“As many know, I was in Madrid for the conclusion of the Candidates Tournament. After the conclusion I did agree to meet with Dvorkovich and Sutovsky from FIDE to talk a little bit. I did not have any demands or suggestions for that meeting.

“They did have a couple of suggestions, but the gist of it was that I was there to tell them that I would not defend my title in the next World Championship match, and we had a small discussion. They had some suggestions, some of them I liked, some of them I did not,” he said.

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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at