Magnus Carlsen didn’t exactly dominate the Champions Chess Tour Finals, but the World Chess Champion did more than enough to capture the year-end title in the online series’ inaugural season.

Magnus Carlsen Tour Finals
Magnus Carlsen finished off his victory at the Champions Chess Tour Finals with a 2.5-0.5 win over Wesley So on Monday. (Image: Meltwater Champions Chess Tour)

Carlsen ended the tournament with a crushing 2.5-0.5 win over American grandmaster Wesley So, finishing the Tour Finals with his sixth match win in nine tries.

Carlsen uses head start to secure Tour Finals win

Overall, Carlsen scored 15 points at the Tour Finals, only the fourth-highest total among the 10 competitors. But the Norwegian began the event with a massive head start thanks to the 16.5 bonus points he accumulated based on his performance on the overall tour.

That allowed Carlsen to clinch first place early. He struggled down the stretch, losing matches consecutively to Teimour Radjabov and Levon Aronian in the two rounds before his win over So. The World Champion expressed relief that he was able to close out the season with a victory over one of his toughest competitors.

“The last game really looked like a Fischer Random game, and I don’t think I’ve ever beat Wesley in Fischer Random before, so I’ll count that,” Carlsen joked after his win. “Obviously, it feels good to win the last round. I feel like my energy has been kind of down has been down the last few days. I’m really happy to finish the tournament with success.”

Carlsen came into the Tour Finals as a -400 favorite to win, according to online sportsbook Bwin. So was the one player who held a realistic chance to catch up, as he started the tournament with 12.5 bonus points, just behind the World Champion.

So drops to fourth with final-round loss

So couldn’t capitalize on the few opportunities he had to close the gap, and was out of the running by the final round. In fact, by scoring just 11 points during the Tour Finals, So slipped to fourth place, with 23.5 points overall.

It was Radjabov who had the best of the actual play in the Tour Finals, scoring a massive 21 points to climb from fourth to second in the overall standings. Radjabov added to his six bonus points to finish with 27 overall and claim the $60,000 second-place prize. Aronian finished third on 24 points to win $40,000, while So’s 23.5 points were good enough for fourth and a $30,000 prize.

American Hikaru Nakamura also had a strong performance at the Tour Finals, scoring 17 points to move up to 21 overall and take fifth place for $20,000.

The Champions Chess Tour consisted of 10 events, including nine regular-season tournaments (with three majors), along with the Tour Finals. The tour announced that it will return for its next season in February.

Carlsen will be back in action in late November when he defends the World Chess Championship against Ian Nepomniachtchi in a 14-game match. Carlsen currently stands as a -400 favorite to beat Nepomniachtchi (+270) in the contest.

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