FIDE World Chess Championship: Carlsen Crowned, Dubov Criticized
Magnus Carlsen with his fifth championship trophy. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

FIDE World Chess Championship: Carlsen Crowned, Dubov Criticized

| 163 | Chess Event Coverage

"This time I can say I am fully satisfied with my performance, and that's a great feeling," said GM Magnus Carlsen after being crowned for the fifth time as world chess champion on Sunday. Meanwhile, one of his seconds, GM Daniil Dubov, was criticized in Russia for assisting Carlsen.

Carlsen Crowned

Carlsen received his fifth trophy and laurel wreath on Sunday evening in Dubai in the presence of other world champions such as GMs Vishy Anand, Nona Gaprindashvili, and Zhu Chen. The closing ceremony took place in a revamped playing hall where the glass box had been removed.

The recorded video of the closing ceremony.

Omar Shehadeh, the Chief International Participants Officer of Expo 2020 Dubai, was the first to speak. He was followed by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, who then gave a silver medal to GM Ian Nepomniachtchi for coming in second in the championship and a gold one to Carlsen.

After that, Carlsen received the winner's trophy from Andrey Guryev, CEO of Phosagro. The Russian fertilizer and phosphates producer sponsored the world championship for the fourth time.

FIDE World Chess Championship Cup 2021
The 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Weighing over five kilograms, the cup was made of 925 sterling silver with 999 gold plating, dolerite, and obsidian and set with 39 pearls and a diamond. The cup was designed by FIDE and created by masters of the Chamovskikh Jewelry House with the support of the Sverdlovsk Region Chess Federation.

Carlsen then was given the microphone, and he started by thanking FIDE and the Expo for organizing the event. "It's really been a very pleasant experience, in general, to be here during these three weeks," he said, before thanking his team as well. Interestingly, he revealed that his motivation hadn't always been at its highest.

Magnus Carlsen laurel wreath trophy 2021
Carlsen with the traditional laurel wreath and trophy. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

"A huge thanks from me personally to my team, that was here, family and other helpers, as well as the chess team, partly here in Dubai and also abroad. They were of tremendous help to prepare me as well as they possibly could, and even at the moments when my motivation may have been lacking a little bit for this championship, theirs never wavered. We had a very good atmosphere, a positive experience, so thank you for all of that."

Carlsen seems to be looking back at a match that was the most pleasant of the five: "The match was such a positive experience," he said. "Usually at these championships, there are things you are happy with, things you are less happy with, and so on, but this time I can say I am fully satisfied with my performance and that's a great feeling."

FIDE 2021 World Chess Championship closing ceremony
Can you recognize all world champions in the picture? Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Dubov Criticized

Shortly after Carlsen won the 11th and final game of the match, it was revealed by his main second, GM Peter Heine Nielsen, that the Russian GM Dubov had once again been on the team, like in 2018. Back then, Carlsen's opponent was GM Fabiano Caruana but this time, he played a Russian challenger and that turned out to be problematic for some prominent members of the Russian chess scene.

On Twitter, GM Sergey Karjakin shared his surprise about finding out that Dubov had worked "against Nepo." Carlsen's 2016 opponent turned the picture around and said he would find it strange if a challenger would hire a Norwegian grandmaster as a second:

GM Sergei Shipov, Russia's most famous chess commentator, shared similar surprise and criticism on his Crestbook Telegram channel:

"Oh, Dania, why? For how much? Couldn't you sit out for at least one match? You should have commented on the event on any chess platform, in your talented and bright way!"

Shipov ended his comment with the words: "P.S. I think that Dubov now won't be playing for the Russian team. And that’s correct."

Like Shipov, the 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov suggested that it might be problematic for Dubov to continue playing for the national team: 

"If he does not receive a salary as a member of the Russian national team, then it is possible to blame or question his moral principles, but he is a free person and he does whatever he considers best for himself. If he receives a salary, then it is more serious and it is difficult to understand him."

Another well-known figure in Russia, Ilya Levitov (a chess lover, writer, entrepreneur, and interviewer), also wrote on Telegram:

"To be honest, I didn't believe it at first, but it turned out to be true. Somehow I cannot get my head around it. Daniel is so fond of telling how proud he is to play for the Russian national team, that we have a great chess power and we must always win ... In short, I am somehow in complete shock."

Dubov has responded to the criticism in an interview with the Russian sports website Championat, first pointing out that he already agreed to work with Carlsen before the Candidates Tournament was over, i.e., before it was known that the challenger would be Russian.

The main point Dubov makes is that he sees a difference between an individual match and a team championship. "I am relatively calm about this," he says. "This is not a problem for me. I think not for Ian either. When people talk about the state or the Russian national team, it is the Russian national team. It's not Russia versus Norway here." Later in the interview, Dubov adds: "To inflate a great national history seems absurd to me."

Daniil Dubov
Daniil Dubov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

And what did Nepomniachtchi himself think about all this? In an exclusive interview with, which will be published soon, the challenger said he was also surprised, but points out that Dubov's participation might not have helped Carlsen too much:

"Well, somehow I wasn't sure about this until game two, but when I saw this 8.Ne5 idea, it's a typical idea from Daniil. I had quite mixed feelings because, I mean, it's not about being a countryman because we have quite a lot of strong grandmasters and some of them work with each other.

"But speaking of Daniil, I guess we worked together a few years ago for quite some time, so I thought he would rather, you know, be in a commentators team, but on the other hand, I guess out of our team we should probably thank him because the biggest chances arrived after his brilliant novelties, like this 8.Ne5 in the Catalan and also game six, the semi-Catalan/semi-Reti. This was also quite.... I don't think he was a double agent but obviously, the results of his work were quite favorable for us."

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