Magnus Carlsen is known for his sheer genius on the 64 squares. Time and again he has proven his superiority on the chessboard. 2019 has been an absolutely thrilling ride for the champion with 10 tournament victories and an unbeaten track record in the classical format with over 100+ games and counting. His latest achievements include reclaiming his World rapid crown and defending his World blitz title at the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships held in Moscow from December 25-30 at the beautiful Luzhniki Stadium.
With these trophies, he holds all the three World titles together, a feat he had earlier achieved in 2014. Additionally, he now has twelve world titles- 4 in classical, 3 in rapid, and 5 in blitz. This is a feat that all the chess fans are bound to remember forever!
The World Rapid and Blitz Championships drew participation from some strong competitors in the open and women's sections. Magnus had a slow start to the tournament, but he came back on track on the second and third days to take home the rapid championship.
When asked about what his future tournaments were, Carlsen gave a fitting reply by responding that the event wasn't over and his job was only "half-done" as he wanted to win the Blitz as well. In fact, he even mentioned that being slightly superior in his positions made him fight harder for the full point instead of settling for a mere draw, which is usual in similar conditions.
Although Magnus won the rapid without a playoff, the blitz wasn't so easy. He had to face America's Hikaru Nakamura in the tie-break match. Besides, he was lucky against Firouzja Alireza who had three additional pawns in an opposite-colored Bishop endgame and flagged against Carlsen, in an unfashionable way, who took away the full point. Despite the $300 protest made by the former, Carlsen's victory declared by the arbiter (as it could theoretically still be won by Carlsen according to official rules without any pawns for himself) stood steady. Therefore, Magnus didn't lose his chances for the title owing to this incident.
The tournament also saw the participation of the retired former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, who showed that he still had the magical touch as he finished with a bronze medal in the blitz section. Nakamura had a decent outing with medals in both sections. The Blitz King, as Nakamura is known worldwide, might have been disappointed in losing to Carlsen in the tie-break in the end.
With Magnus' victory in these events, he ends the year by clinching the top spots in all the three formats of the game. The top spot in the Classical is a rank that he hasn't let go of since almost the beginning of this decade, despite having some ups and downs in the other two. What started as a decade dominated by Carlsen, who even dethroned the five-time former Indian World Champion Vishy Anand, has finished with an even greater grip for the Norwegian Numero Uno. One can now only wait eagerly to enter the new decade and see where the world of chess is headed with the Carlsen mania. So, here's to 2020!