Skip to Content

Magnus Carlsen Crashes Out Of Final Tournament As World Champion With Hilarious Blunder

Carlsen cries out in anguish after the misclick
Screenshot: Chess24

Magnus Carlsen, who abdicated his throne as world chess champion last year, will finally be replaced by either Ding Liren or Ian Nepomniachtchi in a few weeks once the two finish fighting it out for his old crown. Carlsen is still the best player in the world, and he'll still continue to compete in tournaments (just not against Hans Niemann), though he flamed out of the last tournament he'll play as world champion in a really silly way: he fat-fingered his queen away while up a pawn in a queen-pawn endgame.

The context here is that Carlsen was playing in the loser's bracket final of the 2023 Chessable Masters against Hikaru Nakamura, streamer extraordinaire and bit player in l'Affaire du Niemann. At stake was a path to the final of the second tournament on the Champions Chess Tour, a $30,000 first-place bag, and a nice statement win on the eve of the Ding-Nepo matchup in Kazakhstan. Nakamura and Carlsen exchanged queens in the opening and played to a tense draw, which meant the chance to match up with Fabiano Caruana in the final would come down to my favorite chess tiebreaker: armageddon. In armageddon chess, the player with the white pieces must defeat their opponent to advance, while a draw means black advances. The two players submit time bank bids for the right to play black, and whoever bids the lowest wins.

Carlsen has a fantastic record in armageddon games, and in the previous Champions Chess Tour tournament in February, he defeated Nakamura with black in an armageddon game. In that instance, he bid 8:58, while Nakamura bid 8:59. This time around, Nakamura got the better of him by bidding 9:17 to Carlsen's 9:27, and his win condition was clear. The two players kept pace with each other through the first 40 moves, and though Carlsen missed a few strong chances to press Nakamura for the win, we finally got down to a queen-pawn endgame with Carlsen holding a slight edge on time and pawns. In position to either flag Nakamura (i.e., move pieces around defensively to try and run down the opponent's clock) or push his small advantage, Carlsen instead made a critical mechanical blunder.

Weirder still, this is the second time in the last year that Carlsen has blundered away his queen with an advantageous position. In last April's Oslo Esports Cup, Carlsen was cooking Lê Quang Liêm and moving towards a checkmate when he slipped up and misplayed his queen on accident. The lesson here is clear: any aspiring chess wizard has a chance against Magnus Carlsen if he's using the computer.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter