No motivation, world chess champion Carlsen to not defend title next year

Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen participates at the Energy Denmark Champions Battle in Circus Building, Copenhagen, Denmark in 2019. File photo: Reuters/ Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

Magnus Carlsen will not defend his world championship in 2023 against Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi as he is not motivated to play another match, the Norwegian five-time champion said in a podcast on Wednesday.

If Carlsen does not defend his title, Nepomniachtchi is likely to face the runner up in the recent Candidates tournament, China's Ding Liren.

"I feel I don't have a lot to gain, I don't particularly like (the championship matches), and although I'm sure a match would be interesting for historical reasons and all of that, I don't have any inclination to play and I will simply not play the match," he said on the podcast for his sponsor Unibet.

"Ultimately the conclusion stands, one that I'm pretty comfortable with, one that I've thought a lot about for a long time now, I would say more than a year... since long before the last match" in which he beat Nepomniachtchi without losing a game, Carlsen said.

"And I've spoken to people in my team, I've spoken to FIDE, I spoke to Ian as well. And the conclusion is, it's very simple, that I am not motivated to play another match," said Carlsen, who has spent over a decade as the top-ranked player in the world.

Carlsen had previously said he would be ready to let go of his world title unless his next opponent was Iranian-French teenager Alireza Firouzja, who is the world number three currently.

Instead, Nepomniachtchi set up a rematch by winning the Candidates Tournament in Madrid earlier this month with a round to spare.

Liren edged out chess YouTuber Hikaru Nakamura of the United States for second place in the Candidates Tournament by beating him in the final round.

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