The undisputed world number one, Magnus Carlsen will NOT defend his title in World Chess Championship 2023. Ding Liren, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Hikaru Nakamura react to the confirmation.

After months-long of uncertainty, the public has gotten a final answer. Magnus Carlsen confirms that he will not play the 2023 World Chess Championship (WCC) match. This massive decision will lead to the crowning of a new world champion after nearly a decade of Carlsen’s dominance.

In November 2021, Magnus Carlsen hinted at his intention to not defend his title due to a loss of passion. But he did express the desire to match against a new generation in the WCC, specifically the 19-year-old Alireza Firouzja. But the Iranian GM was far from making it to the challenger spot as he finished 6th in the recent Candidates. Instead, the previous challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi won the Tour once again, supposedly leading to a WCC rematch.

Ian Nepomniachtchi won the 2022 Candidates Tour.
Photo: Stev Bonhage, FIDE

After the Candidates concluded, the chess community waited in suspense and many were hoping for the undisputed king to change his mind. But Magnus will stick true to his words, as revealed in a recent podcast.

“I’ve spoken to people in my team, I’ve spoken to FIDE, I spoke to Ian as well. The conclusion is very simple: I’m not motivated to play another match,” said Carlsen. “I don’t have a lot to gain. I don’t particularly like it, and although I’m sure a match would be interesting for historical reasons, I don’t have any inclinations to play and I will simply not play the match.”

Magnus Carlsen in Magnus Effect Podcast Episode 1
Photo: Unibet

Most fans and even Grandmasters themselves have hoped otherwise and this decision would definitely be a disappointment. But there is still good news for his fans – Magnus Carlsen is not retiring from chess. He will continue playing and travel for tournaments across the world. With a current rating of 2864, he is also keen on pursuing a goal of 2900 ratings – as stated on Chess.com.

In regards to if he would participate in the World Chess Championship match once again, he left a very loose statement. “I don’t rule out participation in the future, but I also wouldn’t count on it.”

Reaction to Magnus Carlsen giving up his World Champion title

Due to Carlsen’s withdrawal from the WCC, the top 2 placers at the Candidates 2022 will go head-to-head for the World Champion title. This means the winner of the tour, Ian Nepomniachtchi and the runner-up Ding Liren will battle each other in the 2023 WCC.

Here are the reactions of Ding Liren, Ian Nepomniachtchi, and Hikaru Nakamura to this confirmation according to Chess.com.

Ding Liren

This entire situation would be most surprising for Ding Liren. He was initially not a part of the Candidates 2022 lineup, but because of Sergey Karjakin’s disqualification, he earned the final slot at the tournament. Now, he is one step away from a world champion title.

Quoting an interview the Chinese GM had with Chess.com, he expressed: “There are a lot of feelings around my mind right now that I have to deal with, but I am very excited about playing a world championship match to fight for the crown next year. I knew [Magnus Carlsen] had doubts, but I expected him to play. But I understand it also. Being world champion means a lot of responsibilities; there are a lot of things to handle.”

He further stated, “It’s better for the fans if the best players fight for the world championship, and Magnus has, of course, been the best player throughout the years. We came to a new era.”

Ian Nepomniachtchi

Ian Nepomniachtchi is supposed to have his revenge match against Carlsen. The Russian GM went to the previous WCC but wasn’t able to bring his standard performance on board. This time around, Ian looks strong coming from the Candidates 2022; but instead of Carlsen, he will be facing Ding Liren.

According to Chess.com, Ian stated: “It didn’t come as a shock because surely it wasn’t the first time I heard about his intentions. We also chatted briefly online after Madrid, and it was quite clear that most likely he wouldn’t play. But, as they say, hope dies last. Frankly it’s quite disappointing. The re-match was something I was really looking forward to.”

He talked about how Carlsen’s decision would affect the chess ecosystem. “It’s quite harmful, but at this point it’s hard to evaluate how harmful. From a human perspective, it’s quite an understandable decision from Magnus and I respect it completely, despite my personal disappointment that it happened. However, we have this big tradition in chess of almost 150 years, and that is something really priceless.”

Hikaru Nakamura

The news of Carlsen giving up his title especially stings for Hikaru Nakamura, who placed 3rd in the 2022 Candidates. The popular Twitch streamer came into the Candidates with eyes on him, but not many expectations. However, he delivered an astounding performance and placed 3rd, which means that Nakamura was only one step away from a World Championship match.

“It stings that the draw would’ve got me second, I’m annoyed because that would’ve been a great result. But it doesn’t sting in the sense of thinking that I would’ve gotten a match, because I don’t think I would’ve,” said Nakamura.

Sarah Zulkiflee -

Sarah Zulkiflee

| Twitter: @kayzeesarah

Born and grew up in Malaysia, but a citizen of the world. High-key addicted to everything Dota 2. Spams support heroes but Ancient Apparition is an all-time favorite (a 100% Ice Blast accuracy). Only PMA during the day.