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The chess world will have a new world champion soon, but for many fans the legitimacy of the title will be questionable.

Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who has been the world champion for a decade, decided not to defend his title. He remains the top-ranked player in the world, and is considered one of the best champions in the history of the game.

That means the world’s second and third-best players, Ding Liren of China and Ian Nepomniatchtchi of Russia, will battle for the championship in a match scheduled for Astana, Kazakhstan between April 7 and May 1.

Nepomniatchtchi won the right to be Carlsen’s official challenger before the world champion decided to abdicate the throne. Carlsen defeated him soundly in the last championship match in 2021, and clearly lacked the motivation for a repeat encounter.

If the contestants for next month’s title match feel sheepish about becoming world champion in Carlsen’s shadow, they have something else to consider. The match’s main sponsor, Freedom Holding Group, has funded a €2 million prize, with 60 per cent going to the winner.

The match will be broadcast on chess.com

Ding Liren v. Ian Nepomniatchtchi, online speed game, 2019

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How does White deliver the final blow?

White played 38.Ne7+ Rxe7 39.Rf8+ Kh7 40.Rh8+ and Black resigned.

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