Carlsen Wins Fischer Random Chess Championship
Hikaru Nakamura, Dag Alveng and Jøran Aulin-Jansson, Lisbeth Hammer.

Carlsen Wins Fischer Random Chess Championship

| 74 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen is the new unofficial Fischer Random world champion after beating Hikaru Nakamura 14-10 today in their match in Norway

Fischer Random Carlsen Nakamura Score

Taking into account the positive reception of the NRK TV show over the last five days, and the viewer numbers of the live broadcast (similar to the last five days of Wijk aan Zee), the first serious Fischer Random event since 2009 can be considered a big success. Almost without exception, Carlsen and Nakamura played highly interesting games in which the action started as early as move one.

It is often said that chess is science, art, and sports together. As Carlsen noted, with Fischer Random you take away the science part. With opening theory having become so rapidly advanced, due to strong chess engines, that's a good thing for many.

Spectators at Carlsen-Nakamura Fischer Random

The final day saw eight games at a time control of 10 minutes, plus five seconds increment. That meant no more crazy time scrambles like in game eight, in which Carlsen lost on time while trying to win a RB-vs-R endgame. In an interview for and the official site, he explained:

"I thought I should try to win for a while at least. Then I didn’t make any progress; he was defending very easily. Somehow I decided: OK, I’m just gonna play and when I have a few seconds left I will just claim a draw and that’s it.

"And then…somehow I lost my head a bit and I didn’t claim a draw in time. In the heat of the moment, I forgot about it because my instinct with so little time was just to blitz [smiles]. It’s something that shouldn’t happen when you’ve played competitive chess for almost 20 years.

"When you’re down on time and probably down on energy as well, the regular rules are maybe not there anymore. What you thought you were capable of you might not be capable of and you might mistakes that you don’tusually make.It’s tough."

The first game of the day, number nine in the match, saw Carlsen pushing his a-pawn to a5 on the first two moves and playing it to a6 on the final move. Nakamura, who needed to close a gap of two points on the final day, made life hard for himself as he missed a relatively simple tactic:

Carlsen enters with a smile vs Nakamura Fischer Random

Despite his strange loss the other day, Carlsen arrived in a very cheerful mood for the final day. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

After a draw in game 10, Nakamura got an excellent opportunity to get back into the match. He outplayed his opponent both strategically and tactically, and ended up with a queen against rook and a-pawn. It was a theoretical win, but he allowed the pawn to run to a3 and then, if he might not believe in them, Carlsen had his fortress. A blow for Nakamura, who couldn't find back his best form in the remainder.

This game, by the way, had it all: both players starting with castling on the first move(!) and eventually Carlsen, with just seconds on his clock, claiming a three-fold repetition at the moment when he also could have claimed based on the 50-move rule!

Nakamura hand chess

The hand of Nakamura, still trying to win the Q-vs-RP endgame. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen claiming a draw Fischer Random

Carlsen successfully claiming a draw this time. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The American GM also let his opponent slip away in the next game. That was definitely a blow for Nakamura, who couldn't find back his best form until after the match had already been decided in Carlsen's favor.

Nakamura Fischer Random

Missed chances early in the day didn't exactly help Nakamura. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The following game got Carlsen to a decisive 12.5 points vs 8.5 for Nakamura, incidentally the same score with which Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in 1972 in Reykjavik.


Carlsen see through chair Fischer Random

Carlsen added another, albeit unofficial, world title to his resume. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Nakamura won the penultimate game convincingly. Carlsen seemed to be doing rather well, except for one minor issue. He had completely forgotten that White could castle kingside,inthiscase the"long castle." The evaluation of the position changed dramatically.

Nakamura Fischer Random

A good win for Nakamura eased the pain slightly, perhaps. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The match was perhaps closer than the score reflects.

Carlsen: "It was not easy at all. At many points, especially today, he had chances. The games vary in quality but I am happy with my progression in the way that I approached the games during the tournament and I’m looking forward to my next chance of Fischer random chess.

"I also think Hikaru has a lot of room for improvement. I think he could have played better than he did probably. Maybe if he had played at his very highest level then it would have been a bit different."

Magnus Carlsen, Fischer Random

"I’m looking forward to my next chance of Fischer random chess." | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In general, playing Fischer random turned out to be hard.

"It was really tough, especially today with so manygames,because you spend so much energy early on," said Carlsen. "I felt in several games I was lacking the energy at critical points. Also, all the time it’s difficult to find harmony because some pieces are placed a bit differently even though the position seems normal so it’s always very difficult to evaluate positions, structuresandcertain moves. You cannot just rely on your experience; you have to calculate all the time which is really tiring."

Carlsen, among many, thinks that chess960 has a future: "For sure. This match showed that it’s not too weird and it leads to exactly what you want, which is chess without theory and still at a reasonable level. I think those terms the match was definitely a success and I think we’ll all strive to get better."

Broadcast of the final day of the Nakamura-Carlsen Fischer random match.

Nakamura, Carlsen before interview Fischer Random

The players coming for a quick NRK interview after one of their games. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ castling on first move

Nakamura clearly enjoyed that, after him, Carlsen also castled on the first move! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ Rolfsrud & Jøran Aulin-Jansson

TV host Ole Rolfsrud and organizer Jøran Aulin-Jansson watching the broadcast. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ Carlsen with flag

A patriotic Henrik Carlsen watching his son giving a winner's interview. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Arbiter, Fischer Random

One of the arbiters setting up a new, fresh position on the board. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ fans for Carlsen

Some more patriotic fans coming for Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ Olav Lahlum, Nakamura, Carlsen

Arbiter Hans Olav Lahlum starting one of the games. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ signing table Fischer Random

Afterward the players signed the marble table they played on. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ receiving trophy Fischer Random

Besides a trophy Nakamura won 600,000 Norwegian kroner (€61,771/$76,260) | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen winner's trophy Fischer Random

Carlsen earned 900,000 kroner (€92,656/$114,381) | Photo: Maria Emelianova/ Hammer selfie

GM Jon Ludvig Hammer on Facebook Live with Carlsen. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

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