Chess Champ Cashes In Checks for Chips

His rating of 2882 is the highest ever achieved in chess. Earlier this year, rated him the second-best player of all-time, behind only legend Garry Kasparov and one spot ahead of Bobby Fischer. Yet Magnus Carlsen refuses to play in next year’s world chess championship, and will voluntarily surrender the title he’s held since winning it in 2013 at age 22.

Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen
Reigning world chess champ Magnus Carlsen mulls over his chips, and his future, at the World Series of Poker last week. (Image: Screenshot via PokerGo)

“I don’t have any inclination to play,” Carslen said on his new podcast, Magnus Effect. “The matches themselves have been at times interesting, at times a little bit of fun. But overall, I feel like it’s my time to go from the world championship matches.”

What this five-time world chess champ would rather do is play poker … and not that well. At last week’s World Series of Poker at Bally’s and Paris, Carlsen hit the rail way out of the money, not even surviving Day 1C.

Bad Track Record for Sports-Switchers

Remember when Michael Jordan quit the Chicago Bulls to join baseball’s Chicago White Sox in 1994? He returned to basketball, and his senses, within a year.

Will Carlsen?

“I don’t rule out a return in the future,” he said on the podcast. “But I wouldn’t particularly count on it, either.”

Carlsen, at 31 the game’s reigning champion and biggest star, had been slated to defend his title against Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi next year. Instead, Nepomniachtchi will now play China’s Ding Liren, with the winner claiming Carlsen’s vacated title.

Carlsen said he would continue playing competitive chess, just not world championships.

“I enjoy playing tournaments a lot,” he said on his podcast. “Obviously, I enjoy them a lot more than I enjoy the world championship, and frankly, I don’t see myself stopping as a chess player any time soon.”

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