Norway’s Magnus Carlsen has retained the World Chess Championship, dominating American challenger Fabiano Caruana in a quick-fire tie-breaker in London.
Carlsen and Caruana had spent much of November locked in a stalemate over the sport’s biggest title but the deadlock was broken on Wednesday in a best-of-four series of rapid games.
It followed three weeks of play and a record 12 straight draws.
In the quick form players have only 25 minutes to make all of their moves in each game, meaning blunders are more likely.
The Norwegian proved why he is renowned as the king of speed chess and dominated the tie-breaker, winning three in a row so a fourth was not needed.
“I’m very happy. I felt like I had a really good day at work today,” Carlsen said afterwards, prompting laughs from the room of global chess journalists.
“Everything went perfectly.”
He added: “It’s very special for me to win this time.
“Fabiano was the strongest opponent I’ve played so far in the world championships.”
A disappointed Caruana said he did not produce his best when it mattered but showed his admiration for Carlsen.
“The result shows that he is the strongest player in the world and he is the world champion, so it’s fitting,” Caruana said.
After Carlsen pulled off a difficult endgame to win the tight first tie-break game, he stood up and pumped his fist.
The pressure was heaped on Caruana, who played too aggressively in the second game and came undone before losing the third too.
The victory came on the 13th day of play in the series, which has a cash prize of a million euros (£880,000), of which Carlsen wins 55%.
Carlsen, known as the Mozart Of Chess, has held the title since 2013 and it was his fourth straight championship win.
Wearing suits, the pair faced off behind a sound-proof glass wall at the event space at The College in Holborn in front of dozens of international media.
Millions of chess fans around the world followed the action online or on TV and the event was trending on social media platform Twitter.
Second-ranked Caruana, 26, came into the series in top form and displayed his aggressive style and meticulous preparation in the classical games.
It was in contrast to Carlsen, 27, who endured a recent slump but recaptured form in London.
“Frankly speaking, the last couple of years my game hasn’t been great,” Carlsen said.
“In that sense the classical portion of this match was a step in the right direction.”
Carlsen’s success and popularity has sparked a chess boom in his native Norway, where the game is now played in clubs and bars across Oslo.
Even the country’s prime minister Erna Solberg sent her congratulations in a tweet, posing with Norway’s opposition leader in a bi-partisan celebration.
— Erna Solberg (@erna_solberg) November 28, 2018
If Caruana had won he would have been only the second American to have held the world title, joining the great Bobby Fischer who claimed it in 1972.
He said he did not feel any added pressure being the focus of the US chess community, noting the heat of the championship was already enough.
But he was grateful for the support from fans in his home country and hoped the series might inspire a new breed of young chess players.
“I feel that we put this beautiful game back on the map in America and hope it will inspire a new generation of players,” Caruana said in a statement released online.
Given his newfound status, Caruana was asked if he would consider visiting the White House if he were to receive an invitation from Donald Trump.
“I’ll refrain from answering that question,” he said.