• Norway’s Magnus Carlsen retains world chess title

    Dubai, UAE: Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen retained his world chess title on Friday as he recorded a fourth win over Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi.

    Carlsen sealed victory by winning the 11th game of the 14-game series in their two-million-euro ($2.3 million) match in Dubai.

    Nepomniachtchi resigned with a brief handshake and the two players exchanged a few words.

    Carlsen, who turned 31 during the competition, has now won five world titles in a row, taking the first in 2013.

    The contest in Dubai started with five draws before the Norwegian won the longest game ever played at a world championships at nearly eight hours to unlock the contest.

    Carlsen exploited mis-steps by his opponent to win games eight and nine. Then, as black in Friday’s game 11, pounced on more inaccuracies by the Russian to retain the title 7.5-3.5 with three games still to play. 

    As winner he collects 60 per cent of the 2 millon dollar (1.77m euro) prize fund.

    “It’s hard to feel that great joy when the situation was so comfortable to begin with, but I’m happy with a very good performance overall,” Carlsen told the post-match press conference.

    He said his marathon first win was pivotal.   

    “Game six decided everything,” Carlsen said.

    “After five games there were five draws and I had very few chances to play for anything more. Then everything kind of clicked and it all went my way.” 

    The two men had been rivals since the 2002 under-12 championship when Carlsen cracked in his final game against English youngster David Howell to hand Nepomniachtchi, who is slightly more than four months older, the title.

    Carlsen has called the set-back “one of my worst memories in chess.”

    Entering the world championship, and excluding draws, the Russian had a 4-1 edge over the Norwegian in matches in the traditional long format, but in Dubai Nepomniachtchi cracked.

    “You don’t expect necessarily to run away with it in a world championship,” Carlsen said. “That’s fine by me.”

    Nepomniachtchi implied one of his problem was nerves.

    “Experience is never easy. It should be tough to gain some real experience. It was a little bit too much here,” he said.

    “The tension is not a reason to overlook some simple things you would never ever overlook in a blitz game,” he added.

    “In my career I lost some stupid games, but not as many in such a short time.”

    – ‘Cope with the moment’ –

    Carlsen sympathised.

    “He couldn’t show his best chess, which is a pity for the excitement in the match,” he said. “Sometimes it happens when your get in a difficult situation. All the preparation doesn’t help if you can’t cope in the moment.”

    On Friday, Nepomniachtchi miscalculated in a pawn endgame and resigned following  move 49 after Carlsen had queened a pawn and it became clear the Russian would not be able to do the same.

    Carlsen said that in the later stages of the match he had been able to wait for his  opponent to make errors.

    “A lot of my decisions skewed conservative and, with hindsight, it worked quite well,” Carlsen said.

    Besides the world title, Carlsen has topped the points classification for more than a decade and has an encyclopedic knowledge of his discipline. 

    He founded the Play Magnus brand, which includes an eponymous application and online chess platforms, and raised nearly 40 million euros ($49 million) when it was floated on the Oslo Stock Exchange in October 2020.

    In September, he won the Norway Chess competition featuring six top players including Nepomniachtchi. The two met twice, playing out two long draws followed by two wins for Carlsen with tie-breakers.

  • AAB U16 Open: Knock-out Round to be held on April 9

    DOHA: The Abdullah Abdulghani & Bros. Co. W.L.L. (AAB) U-16 Blitz Open knock-out round will be held on April 9 (Friday).

    Around 175 players are participating in the first 11 rounds on the online platform

    The tournament is organised by the Qatar Chess Association. 

    The top 32 players will move on to the Finals on April 2 from which the first four will play in the last knock-out round a week later.

    The games are monitored online from the Sakura Lounge of the Lexus Building.

    Qatar Streaming has joined as a live stream partner, which is the first streaming in the country for chess.

  • Perera becomes first Sri Lankan to hit six sixes in an over

    Colombo, Sri Lanka: All-rounder Thisara Perera has become the first Sri Lankan cricketer to hit six sixes off one over during a domestic match in Colombo.

    The 31-year-old, playing for the Sri Lanka army team, cleared the ropes a total of eight times in his whirlwind unbeaten 52 off 13 balls against the Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club at the weekend.

    Perera is the second player to achieve the feat in 2021 and coincidentally was on the field when it happened earlier this month as Kieron Pollard hit six sixes off Sri Lanka’s Akila Dananjaya in a Twenty20 international in Antigua. 

    Perera scored only one that day but now joins an exclusive club of nine batsmen to score 36 off an over in professional cricket alongside Garfield Sobers, Ravi Shastri, Herschelle Gibbs, Yuvraj Singh, Ross Whiteley, Hazratullah Zazai, Leo Carter and Pollard.

    Perera has played six Tests, 166 one-day internationals and 84 Twenty20 internationals for Sri Lanka, but his power-hitting display on this occasion was in vain because the match was abandoned due to rain.

  • Qatar Chess Association to organise AAB Online Open tournament from March 26

    DOHA: The Qatar Chess Association (QCA) will organise the AAB (Abdullah Abdulghani & Bros) Open tournament for under-16 players in collaboration with Qatar Streaming from March 26.

    The finals (Rapid chess by knockout system) will take place on April 1 and April 9.

    For registration, players can visit:

    “The tournament will be played over three consecutive Fridays in two exciting and competitive stages. A Live Stream session will be held during the finals. The winner will be determined during the last knock-out round at the iconic Lexus Building,” the QCA said in a release.

    The qualifying stage will be played in 11 Rounds of Blitz Chess (5min + 3sec/move by Swiss System). The top 24 players along with the top eight Qatari players shall qualify for the finals.

    The finals consist of a 32-player knock-out session.

    Every one-to-one match shall be played in 2 games of Rapid Chess (10min + 5sec/move).

    In case of a draw score of 1-1, players shall play up to the first win by (5min + 3sec/move).

  • Polish GM ends world chess champion Carlsen’s record undefeated run

    Oslo, Norway: World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has suffered his first defeat in more than two years and a record 125 games, while playing a tournament in his native Norway.

    The world number one resigned after when he was a bishop down in the endgame against Polish grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who is ranked a relatively humble number 15 in the world.

    But on Saturday evening, 22-year-old Duda managed to do what no one — including the world’s top 10 players — had managed to do since July 2018.

    It was Duda’s only win of the tournament in Stavanger so far and, as he told Chess 24 afterwards, “I didn’t expect to win this game.”

    But he was, he said “extremely happy, obviously”.

    Carlsen, who is often tough on himself in post-game analysis, offered no excuses. “Extremely disappointing”, he said: “Completely unforgivable”.

    Carlsen’s undefeated run stretches all the way back to July 31, 2018, when Azerbaijani grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated him. During that time, Carlsen scored 44 wins and 81 draws against his opponents.

  • Carlsen to participate in Katara International Online Chess

    DOHA: Seven-time world chess champion Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway has announced his intention to participate in the Katara International Online Chess Tournament organised by the Qatar Chess Association in cooperation with the Cultural Village Foundation – Katara.

    Meanwhile,  women’s world champion WGM Ju Wenjun of China has also confirmed her participation.

    The tournament, which begins on August 24, is scheduled to be played in two phases in three different time zones so that the players can opt for any time zone they prefer. The event will carry $10,000 in prize-money.

    Qatar Chess Association president Mohammed Al Mudaikhi expressed his delight at Carlsen’s participation, saying he expects around 5,000 players to take part in the event.

    He said more than 1,000 participants confirmed their participation on the first day of registration.

    Dr. Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, the general manager of the Cultural Village Foundation — Katara, said that Katara as a cultural institution is keen to support sports activities and spread the culture of sports by organising and hosting a number of important sporting events, whether local or international, including the Katara International Chess Tournament.

    This year’s event is a special one as it will be organised remotely in line with the precautionary measures taken by the country to combat coronavirus COVID-19.

    He added that the tournament has succeeded in gaining a high level of international attention, which enables it to attract a larger audience.

    He praised the fruitful relationship between the Cultural Village Foundation — Katara and the Qatar Chess Association. 

  • Chess legend Kasparov to play in new Online Nations Cup

    New Delhi, India: Chess legends including Russia’s Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik will next month take part in a new online world team tournament as the game makes moves to carry on despite the global coronavirus shutdown.

    Six teams will compete in the Online Nations Cup from May 5-10 with former world champion Viswanathan Anand featuring for India.

    “This epoch-making battle draws some similarities with golf’s Ryder Cup, or with the 1970 ‘USSR vs Rest of the World’ chess match-up that made headlines in Bobby Fischer’s heyday,” the game’s world governing body FIDE said, announcing the event.

    “But the new ‘match of the century’ will be more global, entirely online, and also gender-inclusive, since the team line-ups must include at least one female player.”

    Chess remains one of the few games continuing, albeit only online, after the coronavirus pandemic wrecked the 2020 global sports calendar, including the Tokyo Olympics which has been postponed until next year.

    The Candidates tournament had to be halted midway in March while the Chess Olympiad, which was supposed to take place in Russia this summer, has been postponed to 2021.

    “This is a unique event that will combine competitive chess at the highest level, with a top-notch online spectacle”, said FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich.

    “The reasons why an official tournament like this has to be conducted online are very unfortunate. But we are happy to see that chess is providing solace to millions of people who are under a home lockdown.”

    The event, co-organised by FIDE and the leading chess-playing platform, is expected to feature teams comprising top players from China, India, Russia, the US, Europe and the “Rest of the World”.

    The games will be played in a rapid format, where each player has 25 minutes on the clock and gets 10 seconds added after each move.

    Players will be under supervision to ensure they are not computer-aided with a FIDE-affiliated arbiter observing via video conference call. 

  • Qatar Chess Association seminar for school teachers

    DOHA: Qatar Chess Association (QCA) kicked off a four-day seminar for school teachers at Al Rashad Independent School for boys.

    Around 40 teachers from 16 primary schools will be attending the four-day programme, which is one of the many steps QCA has taken to promote the sport.

    Topics to be discussed include the basics of the game, chess as an educational tool for children, strategy to be followed and value of the pieces.

    Salman A Salman, Technical Expert at QCA and FIDE Trainer and School Instructor along with Grandmaster Hicham Hamdouchi, Trainer at QCA and FIDE Trainer are the instructors.

    On the opening day, the participants got a first hand idea about the importance of learning chess in schools and its impact on the evolution of the student’s thought process.

    In the second session, the basic equipment of the game- board, the pieces – was explained and also the moves on the board and recording of the moves.

    On the second day the school teachers will be briefed about the special rules like – Castling, Pawn Promotion, En Passant and Draw.

    The seminar will also deal with other chess basics like opening principles.

    The participants will get some practical training on how to move the pawns on the board and the queen.

    The third day will deal with basic strategy- the value of the pieces, game results and how to develop the pieces while in the second session using chess as an educational tool for children will be discussed in detail along with practical training.

  • Norway’s Carlsen beats US rival to keep chess crown

    London: Three-time  chess champion Magnus Carlsen on Wednesday successfully defended his world title after demolishing US hopeful Fabiano Caruana in a winner-takes-all finale.

    The 27-year-old Norwegian won three successive rapid-chess tiebreakers in a display of intuition and guile that overwhelmed the 26-year-old American in London.

    The fearless performance will go a long way to cementing his claim to be history's greatest player — a title some still award to Soviet-Russian legend Garry Kasparov.

    Kasparov himself appeared in awe of Carlsen's display in a format that has seen many grandmasters before him wilt under the mental strain.

    "Carlsen's consistent level of play in rapid chess is phenomenal," Kasparov tweeted.

    "We all play worse as we play faster and faster, but his ratio may be the smallest ever, perhaps only a 15 percent drop off. Huge advantage in this format."

    The games marked a complete departure from the string of draws played out in their original 12-match series which began on November 9.

    Yet those tense tugs of war were a testament to the prodigious skills of the American Italian.

    The first US contender since Bobby Fischer beat the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky at height of the Cold War in 1972 is the game's second-ranked player.

    Caruana has spent most of his career in Carlsen's shadow but is rated only three points below the Norwegian's leading 2,835 points.

    Chess experts said Carlsen appeared to be rattled by the Miami-born yoga lover in a memorable game 10.

    Carlsen was only too happy to agree to draws in the final two matches — the last one from a winning position that saw Kasparov shake his head in disbelief.

    "In light of this shocking draw offer from Magnus in a superior position with more time, I reconsider my evaluation of him being the favourite in rapids," Kasparov tweeted after Monday's match.

    "Tiebreaks require tremendous nerves and he seems to be losing his."

    But Carlsen seemed determined to decide things in Wednesday's rapid-chess tiebreakers — a format that saw him beat Sergey Karjakin in the 2016 title match in New York.

    Caruana admitted that he was "relieved" to still be in the contest after Monday's 12-match scare.

    "I'm mainly relieved. When you feel like you're sort of on the brink of defeat, or at least you have a very dangerous position, then of course it's quite good."

  • Chess final goes to winner-take-all tiebreakers

    London: The big chess showdown between three-time defending champion Magnus Carlsen and his US challenger Fabiano Caruana will be decided by a series of rapid-play tiebreakers on Wednesday.

    Norway's Carlsen and Caruana wrapped up their 12-match World Chess Championship series in London with their 12th successive draw on Monday.

    It was an anti-climactic finish to a showdown between 27-year old Carlsen — a former child prodigy now regarded by many as the greatest ever chess player — and the first American contender to the crown since the legendary Bobby Fischer in 1972.

    The result means the players will have a day off on Tuesday before getting together for an intense session of chess played in a completely different format.

    They will try to settle things first in a four-game series in which each player will have 25 minutes. An extra 10 seconds of time are added for each move they make.

    Things will go to an even faster-paced format if there is still no winner.

    The final tiebreaker is a single winner-take-all game played in a lightning three minutes.

    Carlsen will be viewed as the favourite on Wednesday. He excels at rapid chess and defended his title through tiebreakers against the Russian Sergey Karjakin in 2016.

    "I think I have very good chances," the Norwegian told reporters after Monday's game.

    But chess legend Garry Kasparov said he was losing faith in Carlsen.

    The former Soviet and Russian world champion said Carlsen had the upper hand in Monday's encounter but agreed to settle on a draw because he had lost his nerve.

    "In light of this shocking draw offer from Magnus in a superior position with more time, I reconsider my evaluation of him being the favorite in rapids," Kasparov tweeted.

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