Eight days before his 23rd birthday, Magnus Carlsen on Friday gave himself the biggest present of his stunningly successful career.
The Norwegian prodigy dethroned home favourite and defending champion Viswanathan Anand 6.5-3.5 to win their best-of-12 world chess title clash.
In the 10th game, Carlsen, playing white, drew with Anand after 65 moves. Much against expectations, the game was a hard-fought contest with both players looking for winning possibilities. Neither player appeared in a hurry to sign the peace-treaty.
With Carlsen reaching the finish-line with two games to spare, it was also the end of Anand’s six-year reign as the World champion. It was Anand’s first loss in a world title match since 2007. The triumph was worth Rs. 8.4 crore for Carlsen. Anand settled for Rs. 5.6 crore.
The charismatic Norwegian is also the 16th undisputed world champion and 20th overall (if one includes Alexander Khalifman, Ruslan Ponomariov, Rustam Kasimzhanov and Veselin Topalov who did not win in match-play formats).
Only Ponomariov (18) and Garry Kasparov (22) held the world title at a younger age than Carlsen. However, a vast majority of experts in the chess world do not consider Ponomariov the youngest champion since his success in 2002 did not come in the time-tested match-play format.
Carlsen, who became the youngest world No. 1 at 19, also holds the record of being the strongest rated player in chess history with a published rating of 2872, on February 1 this year. For Anand, who lost the fifth, sixth and ninth games while drawing the rest, the clock has come a full circle. It was here in 1991 that Anand defeated Russia’s Alexey Dreev in his first world championship match for a place in the quarterfinals against Anatoly Karpov.