Today marks the first anniversary of Magnus Carlsen’s incredible Game 6 victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi during the 2021 World Chess Championship Match. As you may recall, the first five games of the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi were drawn. Their sixth game, however, was an epic battle where both players took risks for a decisive result. Magnus Carlsen’s talent was on full display as he created meaningful imbalances, turned the initiative into a slight advantage and then pressed ahead for a win. The game concluded after Carlsen marched his two white pawns pawns forward in harmony with his rook and knight while maintaining a shield against checks from his opponent’s lone black Queen. When Nepomniachtchi resigned, a 136 moves had been played (the longest world championship game ever). Nepomniachtchi played his heart out and was never able to recover from this devastating loss. During the remainder of the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi Match, Ian was a shadow of his former self, losing another three games and drawing just two.
Throughout the course of history, there have been many remarkable chessboard performances by the great players, so choosing which ones were the best is no easy task. After aging for a year, this game only keeps improving and I now believe that Magnus’ Game Six victory, taken in the context of occurring on the stage at the World Championship, represents the highest achievement possible on the chessboard. This is likely a contributing factor in Magnus’ decision to not defend his FIDE World Championship title. He has accomplished all he can on this stage and will likely never surpass his opus in Game 6 of the 2021 World Championship Match.