On April 6, 5-Time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen lost in a dramatic and surprising way: His mouse slipped and he moved his queen to the wrong spot, instantly costing him the match. Not only did this knock him out of the tournament and cost him a chance at the sizable $30,000 top prize, but this was also the last event he’d participate in as the reigning World Champion.
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Last year, you might remember that one of the biggest stories in the world of professional chess was the surprising defeat of Carlsen at the hands of the young Grandmaster Hans Niemann. The stunning upset quickly sparked online accusations of cheating, with one particular Reddit (joke) theory about vibrating anal beads spreading like wildfire. Carlsen believes Niemann is a cheater and Chess.com accused him of cheating, too. Niemann denied the charges and in October 2022 sued Carlsen, his chess app Play Magnus, the website Chess.com, Chess.com’s Daniel Rensch, and streamer Hikaru Nakamura for $100 million.
But before all of this, Carlsen had already announced his plans to vacate his Chess World Champion seat. And Thursday’s match against Hikaru Nakamura was part of his last event as champ. I doubt anyone expected it would all end with a simple error caused by a mouse slip.
Carlsen’s misclick costs him the match
As reported by Chess.com, Carlsen was competing against his old rival, Nakamura; the two are considered to be two of the best online chess players in the world. They were competing in an armageddon-rules play-off in the Losers Bracket. But in the final seconds of the tense match, Carlsen accidentally dropped his queen on the wrong spot. According to chess grandmaster David Howell it was “the worst possible mouse slip.” Right after the mistake, Nakamura took down Carlsen’s misplaced queen and the game ended instantly.
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The tournament is still ongoing, and Nakamura has advanced out of the Losers Bracket and toward the prize money.
As for Carlsen, this likely won’t be the end of the world. While he will vacate his World Champion title soon, he won’t be retiring. In July 2022, he explained in a podcast that he will remain an active chess player and has events and matches to come in the future. He just no longer wanted to defend his title, as he found it was starting to be a more negative than positive experience, even when winning.
Still, I bet he didn’t have “mouse slips and I lose my final match as World Champ in a million-dollar tournament” on the bingo card for how this chapter of his career would wrap up.