WCC 2018 Tie-Break: Magnus Carlsen defends title
Carlsen won all three rapid games today to win the 2018 world championship and retain his title. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

WCC 2018 Tie-Break: Magnus Carlsen defends title

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Reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen proved his dominance in speed chess by whitewashing Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in the rapid tiebreaks after all the classical games ended in draws.

The World Chess Championship 2018 was a match-up for the ages. After three weeks of grueling battles where the players cancelled out each other, the Norwegian sped up and convincingly retained his title, having "a really good day at work" (Magnus)

Magnus, who is considered as one of the strongest individuals ever to have graced the game, has now won 4 consecutive titles, the last two of which came in the tiebreaks. HIs dominance in this format of the game speaks a lot about his intuitive feeling, and the ability to 'play with hands'.

Tiebreak 2018 World Chess Championship Carlsen Caruana

The contrasting emotions say it all. Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

Fabiano Caruana, the first American to contend for the supreme title since Bobby Fischer, gave up an incredibly tough fight. As Magnus said, "In classical chess he (Fabiano) has at this point just as much right as I do to call himself the best in the world."

The American wasn't the kind of person though that would be happy by demonstrating such impressive level of play. "Of course I’m very disappointed," Fabiano said. "I’ve always considered the main goal was not to play a world championship match but to actually become a world champion."

Fabiano Caruana Santina mother

Fabiano at the final press conference, with his mother Santina looking from behind. The childhood dream will have to wait. Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com

Magnus' controversial draw offer in game 12 was a matter of belief in his speed chess skills. He silenced his critics to some extent, including former World Champions Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik. "If I had a slightly favorable position…Then I was indeed going to offer a draw. I understand that’s not the mindset that everybody wants but I felt that’s what gave me the best chance to win the match.”

"As for the opinion of Garry and Vlad, then they are entitled to their stupid opinion!" Magnus joked, but also adding, "I suppose if I had lost today part of me would have regretted my approach to game 12."

Tiebreak 2018 World Chess Championship Magnus Carlsen

A breath of fresh air. Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

In the first tiebreak game, Magnus opened with the English and got a slight advantage in an endgame with the two bishops. Although Fabiano was a pawn up, he had a lot of weaknesses and this helped Magnus to build up on his position.

Soon Fabiano took the resourceful decision of active defense but it turned out to be a error. Practically it was quite sound though, as the game showed-- Magnus failed to find the best continuation even after spending a lot of time.

Tiebreak 2018 World Chess Championship Carlsen Caruana

And the rapid tiebreaks begin!

The game then ventured into the tricky waters of the rook endgame, where it felt like White should be technically winning. However, Magnus allowed his pawns to get blocked and getting no general advance, the game was coming closer to a draw.

At the last moment though, the American erred, missing an important intermediate check after which it was just losing. We finally witnessed the first decisive result, and in favour of the Norwegian.

Tiebreak 2018 World Chess Championship Carlsen Caruana first pump

The fist pump! Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

Sam Shankland

In the second round, we got another Sveshnikov, and similarly to Game 12, Magnus chose Ne7-Ng6 variation. This time though, Fabiano got a much much better version, and could probably claim at some advantage out of the opening.

The game got very complex, which would have seemed good for Fabiano's current situation of trailing by a point. However, things got from bad to worse.

Balgabaev, Sutovsky, Dvorkovich, Bologan

FIDE officials (left-right) Berik Balgabaev, Emil Sutovsky, Arkady Dvorkovich and Viktor Bologan watching the games. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The American suddenly felt an urge of the 'do-or-die' situation, and in a moment of emotional stress, went wrong badly, losing control over his nerves. He rushed with his decisions, and.. Magnus made all accurate moves and he won. By this point the match was virtually over.

Sam Shankland

Now the task for Fabiano was too overwhelming- to win two games on demand. In the third game, Magnus opened with 1.e4, and of course this was not the moment for the Petroff. Fabiano went for the Sicillian, and the players reached a Maroczy Bind structure.

Magnus skillfully kept waiting to see what his opponent is up to. In such a quiet position, any dynamic operation by Fabiano would have been clear helping chess. He also kept waiting for his moment to pounce.

Quite the opposite happened though. Magnus decided to simplify the position to a large extent, and the game was simply completely level. Fabiano found nothing to do, and trying his last chance-- in desperation, he lost.

Sam Shankland

Tiebreak 2018 World Chess Championship Carlsen Caruana game 3

It's all over. Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

At the end, Magnus defended his title, and his claim as the best chess player on the world. Another WCC cycle has come to a close, and once again he emerges as the winner. He has two full years to let the glory sink in-- and Fabiano's childhood dream will have to wait. Can he come back rejuvenated and challenge for the title once again in 2020?

2018 World Chess Championship Carlsen Trophy Closing Ceremony

That expression is one of a hard-fought victory. Congratulations to Magnus, and a great shoutout for Fabiano's fight. Photo: Maria Emilianova/Chess.com

And with that, my coverage of the WCC comes to a close. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing these blogs!