Chess Challenge: Will Carlsen Defend His Title?

Ian Nepomniachtchi wins the tournament with only one round remaining and qualifies for the World Chess Championship 2023 against current World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.

The 2022 Candidates Tournament is an ongoing eight-player chess tournament to decide the challenger for the World Chess Championship 2023. The tournament is taking place at the Palace of Santoña in Madrid, Spain, from June 16 to July 5, 2022, with the World Championship to follow in early 2023. The eight qualifiers are Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimour Radjabov, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Alireza Firouzja, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Richárd Rapport, and Ding Liren. Sergey Karjakin was originally a qualifier, but was disqualified for breaching the FIDE Code of Ethics after publicly expressing approval for the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Karjakin was replaced by Ding Liren, the highest-rated player who had not yet qualified.

Ian Nepomniachtchi won the tournament with a round to spare. This made him one of five players to win consecutive Candidates, the others being Vasily Smyslov, Boris Spassky, Viktor Korchnoi, and Anatoly Karpov. He is scheduled to play a match against Magnus Carlsen for the World Chess Championship. If Carlsen elects not to play, Nepomniachtchi will play the second-place finisher in the Candidates for the world championship.

Magnus Carlsen, the current champion, is required to defend his title against a pre-determined challenger. If he decides not to do so, the title will be taken away from him. A match will then be scheduled between the two top finishers in the preceding Candidates tournament to determine a new champion. In December 2021, Magnus Carlsen raised speculations on whether he will defend his title shortly after his victory in the previous championship. He stated that he was lacking motivation and might not defend his title unless the challenger is Alireza Firouzja, who rose to number two in the world rankings in 2021 at the age of 18. In April 2022, Carlsen commented further saying that he is unlikely to play, with no mention of any potential opponent. The challenger is Ian Nepomniachtchi, who also challenged Carlsen in the previous World Chess Championship 2021. Nepomniachtchi qualified by winning the ongoing Candidates Tournament 2022, which began on June 16 and is scheduled to conclude on July 7, 2022.

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