The longest confirmed undefeated streak in the history of elite chess came to an end when Magnus Carlsen lost a classical game at Norway Chess on Saturday.
It was Jan-Krzysztof Duda who did the deed, beating Carlsen with White in the fifth round of the Altibox Norway Chess event. Duda ended a run of 125 straight classical games without a loss for the World Champion in classical play, with most of those games coming against world-class competition.
Carlsen: ‘I Was Going to Lose at Some Point’
- The Bets: Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Magnus Carlsen to Draw (-125); Alireza Firouzja (+175) to beat Aryan Tari
- The Results: Duda wins (-$100), Firouzja wins ($175)
- Overall: +$531
When I picked a draw in the Duda vs. Carlsen encounter, I never expected Duda would be the one to come away with a win. Carlsen’s streak dated back to July 2018, and while it had to end sooner or later, few expected Duda to score a win on Saturday.
To his credit, Carlsen took the loss in stride. He immediately took revenge when he played Duda with the colors reversed in Sunday’s Round 6.
“To be honest, losing wasn’t that big a deal,” Carlsen said after the Round 6 victory. “A hundred games, and then the record streak, those were the ones that I really cared about. After that, I knew I was going to lose at some point, especially since I was taking risks in my games.”
Both Saturday and Sunday produced three decisive games. In Round 6, both Firouzja and Fabiano Caruana scored wins with Black. Those results pushed Firouzja into the lead, just ahead of Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and Caruana.
That’s not great news for our Norway Chess futures bets, though both Caruana – who I backed before the tournament – and Aronian – who I hedged with after the early rounds – are within a game of the lead. I’d happily take the long odds we got on both of them again at this point.
Firouzja Takes Surprising Lead at Norway Chess
It’s Firouzja who has surprised the most in Norway. The teen prodigy is already great, but I didn’t expect him to be quite ready to win an event against Carlsen, Caruana, and Aronian just yet. That said, he only has a slim lead and has already had his second game against Tari, so he may be at a disadvantage for the rest of the way. While I mentioned the field bet (anyone but Carlsen) as a profitable play before the tournament, I may have been wrong to dismiss it as overly conservative.
Unfortunately, none of the online sportsbooks I routinely check for chess odds have posted anything for Round 7 as of late Sunday evening. If the bookmakers list lines for the games on Monday morning, I’ll be sure to update this article with my picks for what should be a critical round at Norway Chess. (Update: Odds became available on Monday; you’ll find one pick below.)
The Pick: Jan-Krzysztof Duda (+160) to beat Aryan Tari