Chess-Carlsen blows Nepomniachtchi to claim fifth world title

Dec 10 (Reuters) – Norway’s Magnus Carlsen clinched his fifth world chess crown in Dubai on Friday with a landslide 7.5-3.5 victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi, who faded badly after facing the champion in Norwegian title in the first matches.

Carlsen, 31, took advantage of a blunder by his Russian challenger to win his fourth game of the match, with the black pieces, to take an unassailable lead in the top-14 contest.

“I didn’t expect it to turn out like this. I think it was just a really good professional performance overall. No regrets at all, just very satisfied,” Carlsen said.

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Its large margin of victory made it the most one-sided world championship since Cuba’s Jose Raul Capablanca beat Germany’s Emmanuel Lasker 9-5 in 1921 – a result few would have bet on in the early stages of the competition.

“After five games there were five draws and I had very, very few opportunities to play for anything else,” Carlsen added.

“Then it all came together and after that it all went my way. You don’t necessarily expect to run away in a world championship.”

The contest came to life in Game 6, won by Carlsen with the white pieces after seven hours 45 minutes and 136 moves – the longest match in World Championship history.

A boring 41-move draw followed before Carlsen won again with white as Nepomniachtchi, winner of the Candidates tournament in April, missed a pawn move in the middle of the game.

Nepomniachtchi made another mistake in Game 9, letting his clear square bishop get trapped after just 27 moves and leaving Carlsen on the brink of a successful fourth title defense.

After another draw, Friday’s Game 11 showed that world number five Nepomniachtchi had not recovered from his previous defeats as he again lost his concentration.

“These things that happened here, they never happened to me at practically any event,” an inconsolable Nepomniachtchi said of his blunders.

“In my career, I’ve lost quite a few stupid games, but not so many in such a (short) time.”

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Reporting by Julien Pretot; ; edited by John Stonestreet

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