Carlsen adds a new title: Chess960 champion

by Macauley Peterson
2/14/2018 – Magnus Carlsen made up for the minor setback on day four in the eight game blitz portion on Tuesday, winning the match with three games to spare. Nakamura is known as a blitz specialist but he has lost several blitz matches against Carlsen in recent years, and the "weirdness" introduced by Chess960 was not enough to tip the balance in the American's favour.

Chess News

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.


Magnus wins 14 : 10

Hikaru Nakamura needed to dominate the blitz games in order to have any hope of recovering from the one game (two points) deficit in the rapid portion of the match. The scoring system reverted to normal, with wins counting for one point, so it was possible, but Nakamura never really got it going, winning only a token game late in the day after the overall match had been decided. The players played all eight scheduled games to ensure that Norwegian TV viewers (not to mention the international online audience) got to see a full show.

Blitz results

G9: Carlsen-Nakamura 1-0
G10: Nakamura-Carlsen ½-½
G11: Nakamura-Carlsen ½-½
G12: Carlsen-Nakamura ½-½
G13: Carlsen-Nakamura 1-0
G14: Nakamura-Carlsen 0-1
G15: Nakamura-Carlsen 1-0
G16: Carlsen-Nakamura ½-½

Carlsne and Nakamura at blitz

Carlsen and Nakamura get set for the blitz | Photo: Lennart Ootes /

After Monday's game eight debacle Carlsen made a strong statement in the first blitz game, pouncing on a major tactical oversight by Nakamura.


Play through the moves on the live diagram!

1.a4 e6 2.a5 a6 3.e4 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Nf3 f6 The position is equal. 6.exf6 gxf6 7.Ne3 Nxe3 8.fxe3 Bg6 9.b4 Be7 10.Bh4 Rf8 11.Be2 Nc6 12.Qc3 b5 13.O-O O-O-O


The critical game of the blitz match was game three, which was both the longest (at 138 moves!) and the most tense of the match. Being three points down at this point (7½ : 10½), Nakamura really needed to win, and he had a great chance. But ultimately, the queen versus rook and pawn ending the players reached was too difficult to convert in a blitz game. Despite Nakamura's best efforts, Carlsen found a theoretically drawn fortress configuration, and eventually claimed a three-fold repetition.

The game will also go down in chess history for its first move, which typifies the sometimes strange character of Chess960.


And indeed, both sides castled on move one, seizing the almost-obligatory historic chance!

Starting from move two:


Watch the epic 18 minute finale unfold in real-time: 

Carlsen during the tense game 11

Carlsen during the tense game 11 | Photo: Lennart Ootes /

You can download all blitz games and replay them in the free ChessBase Reader!

CB readerThe new ChessBase Reader conveniently displays all installed databases and training titles — with a modern menu ribbon look. With the free ChessBase reader, you can open all standard file formats (.cbh, .cbf, .pgn), play through games on a stunningly rendered board, watch ChessBase training videos and much more.

Full blitz commentary

Live commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan and IM Anna Rudolf


Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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kyi kyi 2/23/2018 02:57
How can you say Carlsen is a 960 chess champion when there are only two players ? Apparently this is a publicity stunt to attract more players and thus sponsors for 960 chess since classical chess appears to be less popular or obsolete.
Mike Pacasi Mike Pacasi 2/18/2018 01:29
Chess960 is the REAL whole Classical Chess thing... 90% Talent, 10% Theory..."Classical" Chess is one of the 960 Parrallel Universes os Chess, position Nr 518...
Adilson Adilson 2/17/2018 12:19
SambalOelek, it´s just great, I never knew of Fischer´s blitz games statistics. Thank you, gonna take a look at them.
SambalOelek SambalOelek 2/17/2018 12:13
HEre you go
SambalOelek SambalOelek 2/17/2018 12:04
Adilson, you should google Fischer blitz performance....
Adilson Adilson 2/16/2018 11:25
Nakamura is a Blitz specialist, just imagine the level they were playing! Wow, and the great Fischer is involved in the whole thing. As you said SambalOelek, he is like Fischer.
SambalOelek SambalOelek 2/16/2018 10:23
Adilson, i think Carlsen is like Fischer
a totally new kind of chess player that wipes the floor with the current super GM's ..if he has a good day...if he has a bad day, he usually plays the same level as them...
Adilson Adilson 2/16/2018 09:52
Is Magnus a phenomenon even among the GMs?
Bobbyfozz Bobbyfozz 2/16/2018 07:32
I saw a couple games and enjoyed the commentary from the English GM Daniel King. It's just as thought provoking. Go Magnus and Hikaru!
SambalOelek SambalOelek 2/15/2018 07:52
now just remains the title of BLIND CHESS competition that used to be played in France, right? In the town Nice...

Lately this BLIND CHESS tournament has been cancelled due to lack of sponsors . Would be nice if Ivanchuck and Carlsen meet up for a blind chess game..
turok turok 2/15/2018 07:00
give me a break
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 2/15/2018 06:30
Is not that great - Chess with no opening preparation issues? The players are on themselves from move 1. No comment at move 19 such as : Ho, a novelty! No big team for finding an opening trick. Etc.

That was the idea of Bobby Fischer. Seriously wondering if Chess 960 should not become the main chess game, including for world championships.
TRM1361 TRM1361 2/15/2018 02:58
Great to see Chess960 getting some respect. It is all I have played in 7+ years. I don't have time for memorising openings and I love the fact that the midgame starts on move 1.
genem genem 2/14/2018 10:52
Great event.
I suspect the sponsors were motivated by two reasons to donate their own money to make this event possible. (1) To honor and enjoy their fellow countryman and present Match World Chess Champion (MWCC) Magnus. (2) To see more of this novel and potentially interesting FRC-chess960 in action.

The challenge for chess960 is to attract sponsors when chess960 alone is sufficient motivation. Beyond Mainz in the 2000's, that has not yet happened.

Post match interviewers always ask the players whether there will be more chess960 tournaments. Instead, the interviewers should go find the sponsors and ask them. Follow the money. Money talks.

And I still say: "Discard the 'Random' from Fischer Random Chess!"
oldsalt7 oldsalt7 2/14/2018 07:40
Like it or not, Magnus is more than just ‘first among equals’.
anair64 anair64 2/14/2018 05:25
Carlsen is Chess960 champion of the world, a world comprising of one GM - Hikaru Nakamura. I guess now we know what would have happened if someone from Russia/Azerbaijan had stepped forward to fund the Kasparov-Shirov match and why potential sponsors from back then look smarter now for having kept their monies in their pockets.
WillScarlett WillScarlett 2/14/2018 03:29
Applause to Magnus ! A World Champion, in addition to being the winner of the latest title match -
which is both definitive and minimally necessary, should ideally have the highest rating, AND, even
"more ideally", win every event in which he (or she ) participates. Some World Champions, great players
though they were, fell rather short of this beau ideal. No need to name names ...
celeje celeje 2/14/2018 03:18
Overall, an excellent event, and even the organizational mistakes give something to learn from in the future. They should have a match like this every two years, in the years when there's no regular chess world championship.