After a series of tense draws over the last few weeks, reigning champion Magnus Carlsen stepped up to win 3-0 in the deciding tiebreakers on Wednesday in London. The Norwegian has held the world title since 2013.
After 13 games and nearly 50 hours of play, the deadlock at the 2018 World Chess Championship was finally broken when Magnus Carlsen ground out a victory in the opening tiebreaker, forcing challenger Fabiano Caruana to resign after 55 moves.
A little over two hours and two wins later, Carlsen was able to shake hands on a fourth world title, one that had appeared in doubt at several points during a string of tactical battles stretching back to November 9.
Wednesday's rapid-fire clashes stood in stark contrast to the run of draws played out in their original 12-match series and the Norwegian managed to maintain an impressive level throughout to see off his American rival and increase his claim to be the best player of all time.
"Carlsen's consistent level of play in rapid chess is phenomenal," legendary chess player Garry Kasparov tweeted during the match.
"We all play worse as we play faster and faster, but his ratio may be the smallest ever, perhaps only a 15% drop off. Huge advantage in this format."
Despite struggling late on Wednesday, Caruana has impressed many onlookers over the series and the yoga-loving player was the first US contender for the championship since Bobby Fischer beat the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky at height of the Cold War in 1972. At 26-years-old he seems almost certain to challenge again.
But for now, despite a few wobbles, the title stays with Carlsen. For two more years at least.
mp/jh (AFP, AP)