Can Ding Liren become the first Chinese player to become World Chess Champion? Photo: FIDE
Magnus Carlsen has for the first time confirmed, in writing, to FIDE that he will not defend his World Championship title next year and that Ding Liren will replace him. The Norwegian 31-year-old does not rule out a comeback in the future.
Grandmaster Ding Liren received this weekend the official invitation to take part in the FIDE World Championship match 2023, after the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen formally confirmed, in writing, that he gives up his right to take part in the match and defend his title.
That means Ian Nepomniachtchi, who won the Candidates Tournament in Madrid, will face Ding Liren, who finished 2nd. The World #2 is the first Chinese player to play a World Championship match.
"It's a backdoor chance. I got very lucky to have the chance to play a World Championship match. It's my best chance for sure. It's a once in a lifetime chance," Ding told chess24 minutes after Carlsen's announcement.
FIDE also announced that they are negotiating with two cities for potentially hosting the upcoming match, scheduled for spring 2023. Once one of these proposals is approved, the players will receive the contract for the match with the location, prize fund and exact dates.
Magnus Carlsen also talked about the 1972 World Championship match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, which took place exactly 50 years ago | photo: Ruv.is
Carlsen failed to become World Fischer Random Champion last week, the only World Championship title he is still missing. In an interview with Icelandic TV station Ruv before the event, the Norwegian talked about his decision to abandon his classical title.
To me it wasn't so drastic. It's something that I've thought about a long time. Before the match against Nepomniachtchi, I sort of decided on my own as I've felt for a long time that I would not play another match. And that's what I've been telling people in my team, my family that "we better enjoy this match, because it's going to be the last."
He once again talked about the only player he would defend his title against: Alireza Firouzja. The Iranian-born Frenchman had a disappointing event and finished 6th and was never in contention.
Something happened with me that this would be the perfect way to end a World Championship career by playing the new crown prince, the one who was supposed to take over from me, and hopefully be able to beat him in a match. Then I could say that I've beaten the generation before, my own generation, and the next one.
So you would have played if he had won?
Yeah, for sure. So when the Candidates Tournament happened, a part of me was hoping that he would win, a part of me was hoping that he would not win, because mentally I was still unsure, but that match would be one that I could not say no to.
While Carlsen will not defend his title and play a sixth title match, he does not rule out a comeback. On one condition.
I will not particularly speculate on the likelihood of that happening, but I will not rule that out, especially if there are changes to the format of the championship.
The World #1 has previously argued that he would prefer a format with more games and a faster time control, including rapid and blitz, compared to the slower classical format.
The Norwegian could still hope to keep at least one title throughout next year if he wins either the World Rapid or the World Blitz Championship, which are scheduled for the last week of the year.