Norwegian ace Magnus Carlsen has retained his chess crown in Sochi at Viswanathan Anand's expense. The match-up was a re-run of last year's final, with Anand providing a sterner test in the challenger's role.
A win in the penultimate 11th game in Sochi on Sunday provided Magnus Carlsen with his second chess world championship, at the age of just 23. The rematch of the 2013 final had provided Viswanathan "Vishy" Anand with a chance to recover his crown from the new pretender, but he needed at least a draw on Sunday to force a final 12th round. Still, the two weeks of top chess had taken their toll on Carlsen.
"I am very happy," Carlsen was quoted as saying by Russian news agency TASS. "It was a very difficult match, much more difficult than last year."
"Masterly Magnus! World champion for a second time," exclaimed Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten online after the victory.
Carlsen, a young charge with the support of Russian former chess great Garry Kasparov, pockets the 1-million-euro ($1.2-million) prize purse thanks to his unassailable 6.5-4.5 overall lead.
"Overall, throughout the match, Carlsen played better than I did," Anand, who won his first world championship back in 2000, told TASS. "I tried, but the risk didn't work out. Carlsen didn't make a mistake. I had nothing left to do but take risks."
Blunders blight Anand
Anand conceded defeat 45 moves into Sunday's decisive game, played from a Ruy Lopez or Spanish Opening, once it became apparent that he could not stop Carlsen's lead pawn from reaching the far side of the board.
Carlsen's former coach Kasparov believed that his charge's error-free play and stronger ideas later in games tipped the scales.
Concentration proved a problem in decisive pressure situations for Anand - the same shortcoming he had rued from the longer games in last year's series. As counterintuitive as this may sound, chess players tend to allow more errors or oversights to creep into their games with age; Kasparov even lamented the almost 20-year age gap between two very closely-matched players.
Carlsen last year became the first western chess champion since American Bobby Fischer relinquished the title in 1975, followed by decades of Eastern European and Asian domination. He narrowly missed out, however, on becoming the youngest-ever champion; Kasparov's 1985 age record stood firm.
msh/rc (AFP, dpa, SID)