Magnus Carlsen will not defend his World title against Ian Nepomniachtchi after losing motivation.
The five-time champion seemingly confirmed his decision in a podcast on Wednesday after alluding to it for some time.
“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 simple, that I am not motivated to play another match,” said Carlsen.
Carlsen who has spent over a decade as the top-ranked player in the world was set to be challenged for a second consecutive year by Nepomniachtchi who earned the right after winning a candidates tournament.
If Magnus Carlsen does not defend his title, the Russian will instead face Ding Liren of China, the runner-up in the Candidates tournament.
FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich said Carlsen deserved nothing but respect from FIDE and the chess community.
“Only a handful of people in history can understand and assess the tremendous toll it takes playing five matches for the title,” Dvorkovich said in a statement. “But chess is now stronger than ever — in part, thanks to Magnus — and the world championship match, one of the longest, most respected traditions in the world of sport, will go on.”
The Norweigian has stressed that he was not retiring from the sport and would remain an active player and would have defended his crown if his next opponent was Iranian-French teenager Alireza Firouzja.