Carlsen helps Offerspill win title, plays last games as world champion

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/7/2023 – Magnus Carlsen played three classical games over the weekend, as he helped Offerspill win the Norwegian League title for the first time. These three encounters were Carlsen’s last rated classical games before the World Championship match, where either Ian Nepomniachtchi or Ding Liren will take the world crown. If Carlsen does not choose to fight to regain the title, these could end up being his last three classical games as world champion.

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Last classical games as world champion?

In July last year, Magnus Carlsen ended months of speculation and confirmed that he would not defend his title as world champion in the next match organized by FIDE. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren, the winner and the runner-up at the 2022 Candidates, thus gained the right to fight for the world title. As announced in January, the match will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan starting on April 7.

Now that Carlsen’s reign is about to end, 9 years and 3 months after he defeated Vishy Anand in Chennai (he won the title on 28 November 2013), the Norwegian played what might end up being his last three games as world champion — unless he decides to join a World Championship cycle in the future and retakes the title.

Carlsen played for his club, Offerspill, in the last three rounds of the Norwegian League. Offerspill had won all previous matches and entered the final weekend with a 1-point lead over Valerenga. Besides Carlsen, Offerspill brought in Jorden van Foreest and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu as reinforcements. Aryan Tari and Frode Urkedal, who had led the team up to round 6, were also present in the lineup during the final weekend.

Wins by 5-1 and 4½-1½ scores over Stavanger and OSS meant Offerspill kept their 1-point lead over Valerenga going into the final-round showdown. In the final round, wins for Pragg and Urkedal (with draws on all remaining boards) gave Offerspill their first-ever title in the Norwegian League.

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu

Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu scored an important win over Evgeny Romanov in the final round | Photo: Rolf Haug

Carlsen did his part, as he scored 2½/3 throughout the weekend. First he defeated FM Levi André Tallaksen (2341), the brother of Geir Sune Tallaksen, who famously drew Carlsen in the league’s previous edition.  The world champion had no trouble winning with white.


31.Ng6+ placed both knights en prise on the sixth rank. By then, of course, Carlsen had already calculated that all potential continuations win for white.

In a second consecutive game with white, Carlsen got the better of OSS’s Jon Ludvig Hammer, a former second of his. Hammer seemed to have things under control, but blundered the game away in a queenless position.


Hammer cracked under pressure, as 35...Kc5 loses to 36.Rb8, threatening mate on b4. After 36...Rb7, White has 37.Nxe6+ Kb4 38.Rxb7+ Bxb7 39.Kd4, and there is no stopping the passed e-pawn without making huge concessions.

Jorden van Foreest

Jorden van Foreest beat Lars Oskar Hauge in round 8 | Photo: Rolf Haug

Finally, on Sunday, Carlsen faced his friend and former teammate David Howell (they both represented Valerenga in the 2018 European Club Cup). Despite getting into his usual time trouble, the English grandmaster managed to hold a draw in the end.


Howell had about 20 minutes to play 18 moves before reaching the time control from this position. Not even Carlsen managed to make anything out of this advantage in such a balanced setup, though, and the game was agreed drawn after move 44.

David Howell

David Howell | Photo: Rolf Haug

While Carlsen’s help was surely important, Tari and Urkedal were the players who worked the hardest to give Offerspill their first league title. Tari finished the season with 7½/9 points, while Urkedal was the top scorer with 8/9 points. The latter got a perfect 3/3 on the final weekend of play.

The three games played by Carlsen


Final standings

Norwegian Chess League 2023

Full information at

All games - Norwegian League 2022-23 (rounds 7-9)



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.