Sergey Karjakin beat Magnus Carlsen on tiebreaks, gaining a little bit of revenge for losing the classical World Championship match to Carlsen last month.

Editor’s note: This is a brief report. A fuller one, with game analysis by grandmaster Sam Shankland, will follow later. 

With a win in the 21st and final round of the World Blitz Championships, Sergey Karjakin of Russia caught Magnus Carlsen of Norway to win the title on Friday. Both players finished with 16.5 points, but Karjakin took the title based on better tiebreaks.

It was perhaps poetic justice, as Karjakin had defeated Carlsen in their individual encounter in Round 5.

Three players — Daniil Dubov and Alexander Grischuk of Russia and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States — finished two points behind the leaders, with Dubov taking bronze on tiebreaks.

The championship, which was held in Doha, Qatar, had a prize fund of $200,000. Karjakin earned $40,000 for first place, while Carlsen won $32,000 and Dubov took home $26,000. 

It was a reversal of fortune and a small measure of revenge for Karjakin, who lost the title match for the classical World Championship to Carlsen last month in New York City. 

It is Karjakin’s second world title — in 2012, he won the World Rapid Championship

(In an interesting twist, Karjakin won the fast title that he did not have two days after Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine completed his fast-chess title collection by winning the World Rapid Championship. Ivanchuk had previously won the Blitz Championship in 2007.)

Karjakin and Carlsen had been tied for the lead after Day 1 of the Blitz Championship and it seemed like it would come down to a battle between the two of them for the title. Indeed, that is just what happened as the two jockeyed back-and-forth throughout Day 2 fighting for the lead. 

In the end, Karjakin stymied Carlsen’s efforts to win his third World Blitz Championship. (He had previously won in 2009 and 2014.) If Carlsen had, he would have joined Grischuk as the only three-time winners. Instead, Carlsen came up short for the second time this week, as he had also tied for first with Ivanchuk, only to fall short on tiebreaks.  


Dylan Loeb McClain is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He was a staff editor for The New York Times for 18 years and wrote the paper’s chess column from 2006 to 2014. He is now editor-in-chief of He is a FIDE master as well.