Magnus Carlsen, the Chess World Champion, was denied his shot at a poker world championship on Wednesday evening when he hit the rail during the 300-500/500 blind level of Day 1C at the 2022 WSOP Main Event.
Carlsen has made his presence felt in the poker world this year, renewing his deal as an ambassador with Unibet and playing in the Norwegian Poker Championship (held in Ireland for legal reasons). He even got a hand review out of Daniel Negreanu.
The chess star turned up to the Main Event and settled in with his stack of 50,000 in chips. He built his stack quickly in the first blind level, getting up to 66k at one point. But a large river bluff cost him a chunk of change and he was down to just 16,500 by the 200-400/400 level.
These large swings at low blind levels suggest he might have been playing a fast game, getting in there and mixing things up with the other players.
At one point he was low enough in chips that doubling up with trips v. two pair got him to 18,800. He might excel at chess on classical time controls, but on the felt he plays blitz.
Still, the cards just wouldn’t let Carlsen get a run going, and with blinds at 300-500/500 Carlsen jammed with 12k behind from the cut-off. The big blind, Rahul Desirazu, had him comfortably covered and called with a pair of queens.
Queens maybe the strongest piece on the chess board but the ace in Carlsen’s A♣9♦ was alive. However, the dealer rolled out 2♥J♣6♥K♦5♣ and put paid to Carlsen’s bracelet dream.
Carlsen has said he won’t be defending his Chess World Champion title this year, unless Alireza Firouzja the 19-year-old French-Iranian phenom qualifies to be Carlsen’s challenger.
In an interview with Chess24, Carlsen said explained that he felt he was losing himself to the trophy.
“At some point I made a decision that I was motivated to play for the World Championship title,” Carlsen said. “And that worked, but I felt in many ways that too much of my identity was linked to the World Championship title, and I never enjoyed that.”
Heavy lies the head and all that. Perhaps it is best that he didn’t win the Main Event just yet. Those bracelets come with a terrible weight too, just ask Phil Hellmuth.
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