Magnus Carlsen has won his own $1 million signature tournament proving he is the best online speed chess player on the planet.
Chess fans around the globe were gripped today as the World Champion overcame US star Hikaru Nakamura in a thrilling marathon Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour final.
Carlsen had to come from behind three times over the week before finally toppling his rival in a nail-biting tiebreak today to decide an incredibly-tight seventh set.
A clearly relieved Carlsen said afterward: “I don’t know what to say, there were just so many twists and turns. Ultimately it’s a bit random that everything is decided by one game but it has to end at some point.”
Paying tribute to his opponent, Carlsen said: “He’s just very, very resilient and I just found the whole match very difficult and unpleasant to play. At some points, I felt that I was outplaying him and then he started turning it around.
“I never felt I had the energy and never felt at any moment cruising so it was just a never-ending struggle. That’s why it became so close.”
The Norwegian banks an online record of $140,000 for winning the final and takes a total of $315,000 in prize money overall from the event.
It brings to an end a scintillating summer of elite-level chess that has seen the richest and most prestigious online event ever transfix fans.
Nearly 70 million TV and online viewers have tuned in to the five tour stages that started in April and then culminated in a four-player Tour Finals. It was broadcast in 10 languages and at times this week has been the most-watched TV show in Norway.
Carlsen devised the unique online tournament with chess24.com after all traditional chess events were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He then went on to win three of the four stages before the Tour Finals, losing only one match at a knockout stage to Nakamura.
In the grand final, Carlsen faced Nakamura for the overall title and the American showed he was a true threat by going ahead three times. But each time the champion bounced back and refused to be beaten. In today’s deciding set it was Carlsen who went ahead first before Nakamura dramatically leveled to take the match to tiebreaks.
Then Nakamura went ahead leaving Carlsen desperately needing a win to hang on. He managed it and then in the resulting “Armageddon” final play-off Carlsen finally broke Nakamura’s heart to win the title.
It was an astonishing end to the biggest online chess event ever and it had every viewer on the edge of their seats.
Broadcaster chess24 has pledged 50 percent of new Premium memberships bought during its Tour Final to Kiva’s Global COVID-19 Response fund that aims to raise at least $50 million for entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by COVID‑19.
During the event, chess24 and Kiva will highlight stories where chess has changed people’s lives under the official tournament social media hashtag #ImpactChess.
Viewers are encouraged to engage with the Tour Final and support small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by signing up for a premium subscription here.
More details on the Finals
The Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour was devised by Norway’s World Champion and chess24 after traditional over the board chess was halted suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tour Final kicks off on August 9 and runs until August 20. It is the culmination of four elite-level super-tournaments that began in March as a way of getting chess started again while other sports worldwide were prohibited.
The first four stages of the first Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour were:
- The Magnus Carlsen Invitational
- The Lindores Abbey Rapid Challenge
- The Chessable Masters
- The chess24 Legends of Chess
Four players have qualified for the final crescendo of chess after being the best performers during the preceding tour events. The winner of the Tour Final, which has a total prize pot of $300,000, will scoop a top prize of $140,000 and the title of Champion of the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.
Tournament rules and schedule
The Tour Final is a 12-day event running from August 9 to August 20. Time control is a rapid 15m + 10s from move 1 played in the chess24 Playzone.
The semi-finals of the Tour Final tournament were a best of 5 four-game mini-matches. The final was a best of 7 mini-matches.
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