Chess world champion Magnus Carlsen, regarded one of the best players of all time, will not defend his title next year because he doesn’t ‘particularly like it’.
The Norwegian grandmaster, 31, is the reigning five-time champion and has been ranked the number one player in the world for 11 years.
But now, the star has shocked the sport by saying he isn’t interested in playing for its biggest prize.
He told a podcast for his sponsor Unibet: ‘I feel I don’t have a lot to gain, I don’t particularly like (the championship matches), 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.
‘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… since long before the last match.’
Checking out: Chess world champion Magnus Carlsen, regarded one of the best players of all time, will not defend his title next year because he doesn’t ‘particularly like it’
Carlsen beat Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi without losing a game in his last championship match, but was scathing afterwards, saying it ‘didn’t mean anything to me’.
He added yesterday: ‘I’ve spoken to people in my team, I’ve spoken to FIDE, I spoke to Ian as well. And the conclusion is, it’s simple, that I am not motivated to play another match.’
Carlsen stressed he is not retiring from the sport and will remain an active player after becoming a modern superstar, popularising the game and launching businesses and modelling while not at the board.
He became the first Westerner to win the world championship title in 2013 and has never lost since, and the Norwegian holds the record for the highest rating in chess.
He was hailed by the legendary Garry Kasparov as the first champion to learn his craft in the era of online chess.
But Carlsen has now revealed he only entered his first 2013 championship on a ‘whim’.
He said: ‘It’s been, obviously, an interesting ride since the moment I decided to play the Candidates in 2013, which was, to be honest, on kind of a whim.
‘I just at some point decided that I’m going to give the Candidates a try, could be interesting, and ever since the World Championship title has obviously given me a lot, it’s opened a lot of doors and I’m happy about that.’
His decision makes him the first player to walk away from the sport at the top of his game since Bobby Fischer during the Cold War.
Carlsen celebrates with the trophy after retaining the World chess Championship in London in 2018
From July 2018 to October 2020, Carlsen was unbeaten for 125 games, the longest unbeaten streak in history, perhaps explaining his boredom with the game.
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said Carlsen deserved nothing but respect from FIDE and the chess community.
‘Only a handful of people in history can understand and assess the tremendous toll it takes playing five matches for the title,’ Dvorkovich said in a statement.
‘His decision not to defend his title is undoubtedly a disappointment for the fans, and bad news for the spectacle. It leaves a big void.
‘But chess is now stronger than ever — in part thanks to Magnus — and the world championship match, one of the longest, most respected traditions in the world of sport, will go on.’
Carlsen had previously said he would be ready to let go of his world title unless his next opponent was Iranian-French teenager Alireza Firouzja, who is the world number three currently.
Instead, Nepomniachtchi set up a rematch by winning the Candidates Tournament in Madrid earlier this month with a round to spare.
Liren edged out chess YouTuber Hikaru Nakamura of the United States for second place in the Candidates Tournament by beating him in the final round.
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