Carlsen Wins World Chess Championship

On December 10, Magnus Carlsen won the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship, holding his eight-year title. Carlsen walked away with 1.2 million euros and a final score of 7.5 to 3.5. While the first five games ended in draws, which are worth half a point each, Nepomniachtchi lost four of the last six games. Many in the chess world believe that Nepomniachtchi’s downfall was not an accurate representation of skills that he had shown in previous matches. However, it was clear in the end that Carlsen was the better player overall. 

Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen played with logical choices, and, early in the tournament, commentators from said that Nepomniachtchi was making simple mistakes and not playing the necessary moves to fight aggressively and win the games. Critics say that one of the major factors in Nepomniachtchi’s loss could have been that he was playing too fast. Carlsen spent an average of around two minutes and 17 seconds per move whereas Nepomniachtchi spent two minutes and five seconds. Playing at such a high level, small details make a significant difference. 

To prepare for the tournament, Nepomniachtchi reached out to Skoltech Center for Data-Intensive Science and Engineering (CDISE), which offered him the use of a supercomputer cluster. The cluster allowed him to evaluate tens of millions of positions per second while he prepared. CDISE workers and members of Nepomniachtchi’s team worked with an open-source AI called LeelaZero built on the architecture of AlphaZero to create the cluster in a project that took about a year. While the World Chess Championship didn’t end in the way Nepomniachtchi had imagined, it continued Carlsen’s eight-year streak as champion and demonstrated the power that supercomputers hold in the future of the game.