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FIDE World Chess Championship 2021: Carlsen Defeats Nepomniachtchi 7.5-3.5
Magnus Carlsen will defend his world chess championship title against challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi in 2021.

FIDE World Chess Championship 2021: Carlsen Defeats Nepomniachtchi 7.5-3.5

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This guide contains all the information about the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship: details on Carlsen, Nepomniachtchi, schedule, results, and more.

GM Magnus Carlsen won four games in the match and drew seven for a final match score of 7.5-3.5. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi played very strong chess in the first five games, which were all drawn.

The sixth game of the match was the turning point—Carlsen won a historic 136-move game (the longest game in world championship history). After this game, the world champion scored three more wins and two draws to retain his title and win his fifth world championship match.

How to watch the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship 
Coverage began on November 26. You can watch the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship on our Twitch and YouTube channels. You can also keep up with all the details here on our live events platform.
2021 FIDE World Championship Hosts

The 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship took place November 24-December 12, 2021, alongside the World Expo in Dubai, UAE. The championship was played for a €2 million prize fund between the reigning world champion Carlsen and the challenger Nepomniachtchi, who won the 2020-2021 FIDE Candidates Tournament.


How To Watch On Chess.com

Chess.com acquired the rights and is an official broadcast partner. On our Events page, you'll be able to follow the live moves with computer analysis, live chat, and video commentary by grandmasters and special guests. GM Fabiano Caruana is just one of the world-class commentators who will be joining the team for this event. Other experts joining the team include GM Robert Hess, IM Danny Rensch, and four-time world champion GM Hou Yifan.

2021 FIDE World Chess Championship Caruana Host

Daily news recaps were posted on the Chess.com news pages with in-depth grandmaster analysis of the games. Further recap videos will be published on YouTube with more GM analysis.

You can also enjoy the event's live coverage with expert commentary in multiple languages. Star commentators like GMs Sergey Karjakin, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Krikor Mekhitarian, Alexandra Kosteniuk, NM Kevin Bordi, and many more!

2021 WCC Chess.com international

On Facebook and Twitter, we will provide the latest news, photos, rumors, and more from the world championship.

Players

Magnus Carlsen (Norway) is the reigning world champion, who will be defending his title. He is 30 years old and has held the title since 2013 when he defeated then world champion GM Viswanathan Anand of India.

Carlsen is known as one of the biggest chess talents that ever lived. He became a grandmaster at the age of 13 years, 4 months, and 27 days. He has won numerous tournaments and has been the world's number one player continuously since 2011.

2021 FIDE World Chess Championship Carlsen

Carlsen's challenger is Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), the winner of the 2020/21 Candidates Tournament. The two-time Russian champion finished second in the 2019 FIDE Grand Prix, which qualified him for the Candidates Tournament that began in March of 2020 and concluded in April 2021. Nepomniachtchi won the tournament with a round to spare, finishing at 8.5/14. 

Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts
1 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2774 2849 ½½ 10 ½½ ½1 11 8.5/14
2 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2767 2824 ½½ ½0 ½0 ½1 ½1 8.0/14
3 Anish Giri 2763 2799 ½½ ½1 ½1 ½0 10 ½1 7.5/14
4 Fabiano Caruana 2842 2789 ½½ ½1 ½0 ½½ ½1 7.5/14
5 Ding Liren 2805 2769 01 ½0 ½1 ½1 7.0/14
6 Alexander Grischuk 2777 2773 ½½ ½1 ½1 ½½ ½0 ½0 ½½ 7.0/14
7 Kirill Alekseenko 2698 2708 ½0 ½0 01 ½0 ½1 ½½ 5.5/14
8 Wang Hao 2762 2674 00 ½0 ½0 ½0 ½½ ½½ 5.0/14

(Tiebreaks: 1. Mutual score, 2. Number of wins, 3. Sonneborn-Berger.)

Nepomniachtchi has had more success than most against Carlsen. Both were born in 1990 and they played three times in youth events from 2002-03, with Nepomniachtchi winning twice. He also defeated Carlsen at the 2011 Tata Steel tournament and the 2017 London Chess Classic. Nepomniachtchi's overall score against Carlsen in classical time controls is +4 -1 =6.

2021 FIDE World Chess Championship Nepomniachtchi

Results

Fed Name Rtg 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 Score
Magnus Carlsen 2855 ½ ½. ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 .-- - -.
Ian Nepomniachtchi 2782 ½ ½ .½ ½ ½ 0 ½  0  0 ½ 0 - .- -

Rounds

Game 11

Nepomniachtchi was in a must-win game with the white pieces and chose the Italian Opening. Carlsen defended well and Nepomniachtchi misstepped in a roughly equal position on move 23. Magnus didn't let go of his advantage and won the game to keep his world championship title. You can read the full report here.

2021 WCC Chess.com
Carlsen is very happy to retain his title. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game 10

After two decisive games in a row, game 10 ended peacefully with a draw. Nepomniachtchi responded to Carlsen's 1.e4 with the Petroff Defense and both players went for solid moves to simplify the position. The game quickly reached an equal knight and pawn endgame and both players agreed to a draw. Read the full report here.

2021 WCC Chess.com
Carlsen during game 10. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game nine

Carlsen extended his lead after Nepomniachtchi blundered on move 27 with the white pieces. A surprised Carlsen played the right move to trap Nepomniachtchi's bishop and gained a winning advantage, making his opponent resign a few moves later. With this victory, Carlsen's advantage grew to 6-3, putting the Norwegian on the verge of keeping his title. You can read the full report here.

2021 FIDE WCC Chess.com
Magnus is very pleased with the match score after nine games. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game eight

Another critical moment happened in game eight after Nepomniachtchi faltered with Black. Carlsen immediately seized the opportunity to win a pawn and get into a dominant position, which he later converted without much trouble. Carlsen increased his lead to 5-3, putting Nepomniachtchi in a delicate position. Read the full report here.

2021 WCC Chess.com
Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi shake hands after game eight. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game seven

After a marathon game six, both players seemed ok with a relatively quick and quiet draw in the seventh game. Nepmoniachtchi was unable to get any advantage with the Ruy Lopez, and Carlsen maintains his one-point lead in the match. You can read the full report here.

2021 WCC Chess.com
Ian Nepomniachtchi smiling at the game seven press conference. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game six

The first decisive game of the match came in game six, where Carlsen won the longest game in world chess championship history. The marathon 136-move game saw some new ideas in the 1.d4 opening, and then the material imbalance began when Carlsen exchanged his queen for two rooks. Later, the material balance transformed again and the game entered an interesting endgame with Carlsen pressing with a rook, knight, and two pawns against Nepomniachtchi's queen—eventually breaking through for the first win in a world championship match (in a classical time control) in over five years. You can see the full report here.

2021 FIDE WCC Chess.com
A happy Magnus Carlsen at the press conference for game six. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game five

Nepomniactchi once more played the Ruy Lopez, but Carlsen deviated from his previous game with the black pieces by playing 8...Rb8 instead of 8...Bb7. Despite Nepomniachtchi gaining a slight advantage out of the opening, Carlsen's defensive skills guaranteed the Norwegian a draw. Here is the full report from Peter Doggers here.

2021 FIDE World Chess Championship
Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen drew the fifth game of the match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game four

Carlsen played 1.e4 for the first time in the match and Nepomniachtchi replied with the solid Petroff Defense. Carlsen tried a forcing line, but it didn't produce any advantage and Nepomniachtchi drew the game comfortably. You can read the full report here.

2021 World Chess Championship
Nepomniachtchi in the post-game press conference. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game three

Nepomniachtchi tried the Ruy Lopez again in the third game but did not gain any advantage. Chess.com commentator Caruana called the game "accurate" and the game liquidated to an equal endgame. Here is Peter Doggers' full report.

2021 World Chess Championship

Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen shaking hands before their third game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game two: Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi 1/2-1/2

Carlsen played the Catalan in the second game and sacrificed a pawn and then an exchange. The unbalanced position looked promising for both sides at different points in the game, but was ultimately drawn. Here is the full report from Tatiana Flores.

2021 World Chess Championship
The post-game interview. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Game one: Nepomniachtchi-Carlsen 1/2-1/2

The first game of the FIDE World Chess Championship match was drawn. Nepomniachtchi had a slight opening advantage but was unable to turn this into anything real because of Carlsen's strong defense. You can see the full report by Peter Doggers here.

2021 World Chess Championship
Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi discuss their first game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Dates And Location

The match was held November 24-December 12, 2021 alongside the Dubai World Expo. It was supposed to start on December 20, 2020, in Dubai, UAE but got postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The match was originally planned to be held alongside the Dubai Expo, which was postponed.

Schedule

Date Event Los Angeles New York London Paris Moscow Dubai New Delhi Beijing
Nov 24 Opening 8:00 11:00 16:00 17:00 19:00 20:00 21:30 00:00
Nov 25
Nov 26 Game 1 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Nov 27 Game 2 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Nov 28 Game 3 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Nov 29 Free day
Nov 30 Game 4 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 1 Game 5 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 2 Free day
Dec 3 Game 6 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 4 Game 7 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 5 Game 8 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 6 Free day
Dec 7 Game 9 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 8 Game 10 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 9 Free day
Dec 10 Game 11 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 11 Game 12 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 12 Game 13 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 13 Free day
Dec 14 Game 14 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 15 Tiebreak/closing 4:30 7:30 12:30 13:30 15:30 16:30 18:00 20:30
Dec 16 Closing 8:00 11:00 16:00 17:00 19:00 20:00 21:30 00:00

Prize Fund

The prize fund was €2 million. The winner earned 60 percent of the prize fund and 40 percent went to the runner-up. 

Before the start of the match, each player received two hundred thousand euros as an upfront payment of his eventual prize money.

Vote Contest

Every day during the FIDE World Championship, you can vote the result of the game on our Events page. Just go to go.chess.com/FWCvote and cast your vote for a chance to win $3000!

Prize distribution:

  • 1st - $3,000
  • 2nd - $2,500
  • 3rd - $1,500
  • 4th - $1,250
  • 5th - $750
  • 6th-10th - 1-year Diamond Membership
  • 11-25th - 1-month Diamond Membership

So who’s going to be the next World Champion?

Live Games

Chess.com relayed the games live on Chess.com/events and provided a live video broadcast at Chess.com/TV, Twitch.tv/chess, and Youtube.com/Chess where a team of grandmasters brought the latest insights, instructive explanation of the moves, interviews, behind the scenes, and more.

After each game, you could find detailed news reports by our authors @PeterDoggers and our photographer Maria Emelianova (@PhotoChess, also known as MissLovaLova).

Regulations

The official regulations can be found in PDF here. These are the most important things to know:

  • The match will be played over 14 standard games. When someone reaches 7.5 points, he wins.
  • At the opening ceremony, a drawing of colors determines who will start with the white pieces.
  • The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.
  • If the scores are level after the regular 14 games, four tie-break games will be played. These are rapid games with 25 minutes for each player with an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
  • If it's still equal, two blitz games will be played (5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment). If it's still equal, a second pair of two blitz games will be played. If there is still no winner after five such matches, one sudden-death game will be played. The player who wins the drawing of lots may choose the color. The player with the white pieces shall receive 5 minutes, the player with the black pieces shall receive 4 minutes whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds starting from move 61. In case of a draw, the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.
  • The players cannot draw a game by agreement before Black's 40th move. A claim for a
    draw before Black's 40th move is permitted only through one of the arbiters in
    the cases of a threefold repetition.

History Of The Chess World Championship

The world championship of chess has a long tradition. The first official match was held in 1886 between Johannes Zukertort and Wilhelm Steinitz. The latter won and became the first official world chess champion in history. Emanuel Lasker (Germany), Jose Raul Capablanca (Cuba), Alexander Alekhine (Russia/France), and GM Max Euwe (Netherlands) subsequently took the titles by beating the reigning champions in a match.

Alekhine won back the title but due to his death in 1946, it became vacant. FIDE organized a tournament in 1948 which was won by GM Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union), who then lost his title but successfully won it back in matches against compatriots GM Vasily Smyslov and GM Mikhail Tal. After losing to GM Tigran Petrosian, Botvinnik lost the right for an automatic return match and stopped participating in the world championship cycle.

GM Boris Spassky defeated Petrosian, but with him the Soviet hegemony ended as GM Bobby Fischer (USA) famously won the Match of the Century in 1972 in Reykjavik.

Fischer world chess champion
Fischer with Euwe in 1972. Photo: Bert Verhoeff, Dutch National Archives, CC.

Because FIDE didn't accept all of Fischer's demands for a match with GM Anatoly Karpov in 1975, Fischer refused to play and forfeited his title. Karpov was declared world champion. The Russian GM remained world champion for 10 years, when he lost his second match to GM Garry Kasparov in 1985 after the first had been terminated a year earlier by FIDE when there was still no decision after 48(!) games.

Kasparov and Karpov 1985
Kasparov (left) shakes hands with Karpov (right) in 1985. Photo: Owen Williams, The Kasparov Agency ©, CC.

Kasparov won three more matches with Karpov but then stepped away from FIDE and played three matches under the newly founded Professional Chess Association (PCA). He defeated GM Nigel Short and GM Viswanathan Anand but lost to GM Vladimir Kramnik in 2000, who thus is considered to be the 14th classical world champion.

Karpov, GM Alexander Khalifman, Anand, GM Ruslan Ponomariov, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov and GM Veselin Topalov won world titles in official FIDE events in the 1990s and 2000s, but these titles have been disputed because e.g. Kasparov and Kramnik did not participate, and they didn't follow the tradition of one-to-one matches.

Meanwhile, Kramnik defended his title in 2004 against GM Peter Leko and then won a "reunification match" against Topalov in 2006. Anand took over the title from Kramnik in a tournament in 2007 in Mexico and subsequently defended it successfully in matches against Kramnik in 2008, Topalov in 2010, and GM Boris Gelfand in 2012.

GM Magnus Carlsen defeated Anand in 2013 in Chennai and successfully defended his title against the same opponent in 2014, against GM Sergey Karjakin in 2016, and against Fabiano Caruana in 2018.

Who will face Magnus in 2020?
Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

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