Magnus Carlsen Beats Fabiano Caruana, Wins €550K at World Chess Championship

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Chess Champion (R) and Fabiano Caruana, US Challenger during the First Move Ceremony (Round 1) of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match 2018 on November 9, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for World Chess )
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen defeated American challenger Fabiano Caruana to win his fourth consecutive World Chess Championship on Wednesday at The College in Holborn, London.

Carlsen fended off a fierce upset bid from the Miami native by winning in tiebreakers after the top two ranked players in the world played to 12 consecutive draws in classical play, the first time that's ever happened in the event.

The 27-year-old superstar obtained the title of world champion by defeating India's Viswanathan Anand in 2013. He's since defended the crown with victories over Anand (2014), Russia's Sergey Karjakin (2015) and now Caruana, who won the 2018 Candidates Tournament to qualify.

Oliver Roeder @ollie

after 12 straight draws then a dominant performance in the rapid tiebreakers, Magnus Carlsen wins the 2018 world chess championship #CarlsenCaruana https://t.co/a7zpzQIiBt

The tone for the championship was set in Game 1, when Carlsen steadily built an advantage but couldn't translate it into a checkmate. Caruana, a sizable +225 underdog (bet $100 to win $225) prior to the monthlong event, via OddsShark, managed to defend and escape with a draw.

After the opener, the oddsmakers' favorite told Mike Klein of Chess.com he was mostly happy with his form despite letting an opportunity to grab an immediate advantage slip away.

"It's a bit early to draw conclusions," Carlsen said. "My head was working well, but obviously the conclusion of the games shows that I still have things to work on. Overall, it's encouraging. Better than I've played recently."

He added: "Maybe I played too direct with 16. Ng4. After I played this, I immediately started to regret this move."

There were similar chances throughout the match—Caruana in Games 2 and 6, Carlsen in Games 9 and 12—but nobody could secure a significant breakthrough as the series of draws continued.

The end result was a world championship that came down to the final day. In winning, Carlsen captured a €550,000 share of the €1 million prize pool.

Carlsen, who also needed tiebreakers to defeat Karjakin in his last title match, hasn't looked quite as dominant in recent years as he did early in his tenure as world champion. However, Caruana learned that even when the Norwegian looks beatable, taking him down on chess' biggest stage is a different story.

His next defense will come in 2020.