Well, that's embarrassing.
The world's top chess grandmaster apparently made a fat finger error for the ages when he accidentally lost a game by dropping his queen on the wrong square — and it apparently wasn't the first time, either.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen lost a tie-breaking online game (and a shot at $30,000 in prize money) against his rival, American player Hikaru Nakamura, when his mouse apparently slipped while he was about to take his nemesis' final pawn.
The game was in its final seconds when Carlsen placed his queen on the wrong square when trying to take one of Nakamura's pawns, which effectively gave his rival his queen and lost him the game.
As the WSJ notes, Carlsen's mouse slip was particularly dramatic because it was his last official game as reigning world chess champion, a title he held for nearly a decade until he decided last year not to defend his crown.
"What’s happened there?” David Howell, a British grandmaster who served as a commentator on Chess.com's live stream of the game, hollered. "Magnus has mouse-slipped!"
American grandmaster and commentator Robert Hess went on to shout that it was "unbelievable" that Carlsen would make such an error, but as the WSJ notes, this actually wasn't his first time losing in such spectacular fashion.
Indeed, last year at a tournament in Oslo, the Norwegian grandmaster who had a record-breaking winning streak back in 2020 did the exact same thing in a game against Vietnamese champion Quang Liem Le.
To be fair, Carlsen and Nakamura's tiebreaking game that ended in a mouse slip was played under "Armageddon" or "sudden death" rules.
As the Dominate Chess blog notes, Armageddon chess is played to break ties after several draws. Whichever player is assigned white by a coin toss gets more time on the clock (usually 5 minutes to black's 4), but black has draw odds, which means that if that player draws, they win outright. During that final dramatic game, Carlsen was playing white.
As anticlimactic as the loss was, it almost feels like an allegory for the ways in which chess, an absurdly high-stakes and emotional game, has gone digital — and how, when it comes to the thinking man's sport, we most certainly aren't in Kansas anymore.
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