World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen will not defend his championship title against GM Ian Nepomniachtchi

GM Magnus Carlsen will not defend his world championship title against GM Ian Nepomniachtchi next year. Carlsen announced his decision on a podcast on Tuesday.

According to current regulations, FIDE Candidates tournament winner Nepomniachtchi will now play the world championship against Candidates runner-up GM Ding Liren.

“I’ve spoken to people in my team, I’ve spoken to FIDE, I spoke to Ian as well. The conclusion is very simple: I’m not motivated to play another match,” said Carlsen.

“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, I don’t have any inclinations to play and I will simply not play the match.”

Carlsen thus confirmed the earlier doubts he had expressed on December 14, 2021 and later repeated: after playing five world championship matches, he is not enjoying them anymore.

“It’s been an interesting ride since I decided to play the Candidates in 2013, which was to be honest on kind of a whim. I just decided it could be interesting, and ever since the World Championship title has given me a lot and opened a lot of doors, and I’m happy about that. The matches themselves have been at times interesting, at times a little bit of fun.”

The Norwegian star leaves the door open to return for a match one day, but it’s not likely: “I don’t rule out participation in the future, but I also wouldn’t count on it.”

During the FIDE Candidates tournament, Carlsen had a meeting with FIDE’s President Arkady Dvorkovich and Director-General Emil Sutovsky, which apparently didn’t have enough effect to convince Carlsen to defend his title a fifth time.

Talking about this meeting in Madrid, Carlsen said: “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 WCC match.”

The chess world has seen previous moments in history when the world champion did not defend his title. In 1946, GM Alexander Alekhine died as the reigning champion. A world championship tournament, organized two years later, was won by GM Mikhail Botvinnik. In 1975, GM Bobby Fischer could not agree with FIDE on the match format and lost his title to Candidates winner GM Anatoly Karpov.

In 1993, GM Garry Kasparov left FIDE and played a world championship under the Professional Chess Association instead. This led to a schism in the chess world that lasted until 2006, when GM Vladimir Kramnik won a reunification match with FIDE champion GM Veselin Topalov.