MOSCOW: Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen retained his title as World Chess Champion on Sunday, defeating rival Viswanathan Anand for the second year in a row.
The 23-year-old world number one beat India’s Anand, title-holder of the championship from 2007 to 2013 when he was dethroned by Carlsen, in two of 11 games of the competition, with the others ending in draws.
“I am very happy,” Carlsen was quoted as saying by Russian press agency TASS. “It was a very difficult match, much more difficult than last year.”
“Anand is a very strong chess player, but he had practically no chance of winning.”
Carlsen had been playing since November 8 against Anand, who is nearly 20 years his senior, in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The victory, secured with a difference of just two points, will mean one million euros ($1.2 million) in prize money for Carlsen just a week before his 24th birthday.
“Overall, throughout the match, Carlsen played better than I did,” Anand was quoted as saying by TASS.
“I tried, but the risk didn’t work out. Carlsen didn’t make a mistake. I had nothing left to do but take risks.”
Carlsen turned grandmaster at 13 and in 2010, aged only 19, became the youngest player in history to be ranked world number one. He won the Candidates Tournament in 2013 to earn the right to challenge Anand.
His breakthrough in chess came in 2004, when as a 13-year-old he defeated Russian former world champion Anatoly Karpov, forced Russian legend Garry Kasparov to a draw, and became a grandmaster.
Before Carlsen captured the championship crown in 2013, the last Westerner to hold the title was American legend Bobby Fischer who relinquished it in 1975.
Carlsen missed by a few weeks becoming the youngest world champion, a record set by his one-time coach Kasparov in 1985.
Introduced to chess by his father, Carlsen showed signs of genius as a toddler.
At the age of two, Carlsen knew by heart all the major car brands and later memorised the long list of Norway’s municipalities, with their flags and administrative centres.
Sibling rivalry with one of his older sisters sparked his interest in chess, which soon led to his first competition at the age of eight.
Carlsen has been hailed by Kasparov as a Harry Potter-type “super-talent”.
A fashion model in his spare time, he made it to the Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2013.
Anand, who remains one of the most popular sports figures in cricket-mad India, and his opponent enjoyed a remarkably similar rise in their careers since they were talented teenagers.
Anand, 44, became an international master at 15, was crowned Indian champion at 16, won the world junior title at 17 and became the country’s first grandmaster at 18.
His longevity and perseverance — he won his first world title in 2000 — has often been compared with that of cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar, the world’s batting record-holder.
The soft-spoken family man, who lives in Spain with wife Aruna and three-year-old son Akhil, is far removed from his temperamental predecessors like Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov and Kasparov.