- World’s No 1 chess player makes it 111 games without defeat
• Carlsen eclipses record set by Russia’s Sergei Tiviakov in 2005
Magnus Carlsen makes a move against Jorden van Foreest in Wijk aan Zee. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Magnus Carlsen completed another record-breaking achievement when he stretched his unbeaten record to 111 successive games. The 29-year-old world champion drew against Jorden van Foreest in the fourth round of the Wijk aan Zee tournament to edge past the 110 classical games unbeaten, set by the Russian Sergei Tiviakov in 2005.
Carlsen’s record was achieved against a higher calibre of opponent than Tiviakov, with an average Fide rating of greater than 2700 compared with the 2476 faced by the Russian.
Previously Carlsen had suggested he might consider the streak truly broken only after another two matches, as he was disinclined to count two victories he had registered in the Norwegian league. But asked after his victory whether he still held that position, Carlsen demurred.
“I’m all for [claiming the streak] too,” he said. “I consider my streak against elite opposition is 109 and against good opposition is 111 and I am happy about that.”
Observers had been speculating that the pressure of securing the streak had begun to get to Carlsen after he drew the first three games of this 13-match round-robin tournament. Against Van Foreest the world champion went for a more aggressive approach, which almost backfired.
Playing black, Carlsen chose the Morphy variation of the Two Knights defence as his gambit but his Dutch opponent got the upper hand amid an exchange of queens.
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“I was in definite trouble,” Carlsen said afterwards. “I was trying to bluff him a bit in the opening and I thought I’m getting these positions with bishops and some initiative with a pawn. Then he went g4 [to take Carlsen’s queen] and I realised I was lost.”
Carlsen fought back and, with the option to play an exchange sacrifice, Van Foreest played cautiously, letting the champion back in the game. “He played pretty well but he should have enacted the exchange,” Carlsen said. “I would have been in huge, huge trouble.”
The Norwegian will now be free to concentrate on winning his eighth Wijk aan Zee title, a tournament currently known as Tata Steel Chess. His form may not have been great to this point and he sits in fourth place in the rankings, but nobody would now bet against one of the world’s all-time greats.
“I’m saving bad positions every game,” Carlsen said of his tournament so far. “What’s not to like?”