Appropriately enough, the Norwegian grandmaster conquered American Hikaru Nakamura in the final of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, his namesake event.
With a total prize fund of $250,000, the tournament is the most lucrative online chess tournament in history and was organized by Carlsen to fill the void of live, over-the-board chess.
Competing over 16 days were Carlsen and seven other chess grandmasters, including 16-year-old Iranian sensation Alireza Firouzja who finished sixth, taking home $20,000.
In the final, Carlsen overcame the world’s top-rated blitz player 2.5:1.5, afterwards calling his victory a “big deal.”
“It was tough but happy to have pulled through,” the 29-year-old said. “It’s a big deal. Obviously would’ve been a disappointment if I hadn’t, I’m not going to lie.
“But I am really, really happy both to beat Hikaru [Nakamura] today but especially to have gotten through against Ding [Liren]. I never felt like I got into full gear this tournament and I am just so happy to have pulled through. I don’t know how it ranks. It’s certainly one of a kind so far.”
While competitors usually remained stoic and silent during matches, during Carlsen’s dramatic semifinal win over ‘The Chinese Wall’ Ding Liren, he could be heard swearing and seen scowling.
“I cannot remember being as satisfied with a win as I have been today,” he said. “I haven’t felt this kind of tension in a long while. It is not pleasant for the players at all.”
Viewers were offered live feeds of both players during matches, as well as live commentary from chess grandmasters.
And Carlsen believes the format for the tournament was successful and could be a viable substitute while players are not able to compete face to face.
“I think the format has worked pretty well. Lots of excitement, especially with the semifinals,” he said.
“I think they were some of the better chess entertainment we’ve seen in a long time. It all depends on what other people think but personally, I couldn’t be happier with how everything’s gone.”