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Magnus Carlsen wins tournament as he makes return to chess without world champion title

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — Magnus Carlsen returned to the highest levels of chess and winning ways after he enjoyed a break from the sport to play poker.

In his absence, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren contested Carlsen’s abdicated chess world title, with Liren eventually being crowned the new world champion last month.

Carlsen won the Superbet Rapid & Blitz tournament on Thursday evening in Poland, his first tournament back since he relinquished the world championship title he had held for a decade.

In the first round, Carlsen lost to Poland’s Radoslaw Wojtaszek after opening with the Polish Defense in Poland, and he still remained well down on the lead after two days of play.

A streak of seven victories propelled him back to the upper echelons of the leaderboard and he overhauled early leader Jan-Krzysztof Duda following a draw and three more wins.

Home favorite Duda, who had led for much of the tournament, found himself a point down on Carlsen going into the final round and he had to defeat the Norwegian with Black to level the scores and force a playoff.

But Carlsen held on for a draw after 124 moves of play and sealed the title with its $40,000 prize money.

“Already on the third day I was feeling in normal shape, and I thought that’s good, I can actually play chess,” Carlsen said afterwards. “Whether I’d actually be able to compete for tournament victory at that point I didn’t think about because its too early and not realistic. Even with +10 in the Blitz it was still close but I’m very happy.

“It’s nice to show that my retirement only lasted a couple of days,” he added.

Duda finished second while the USA’s Wesley So and France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave finished in a tie for third.

The 2023 Grand Chess Tour, which So is currently leading, has three remaining events and continues with the SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz in Zagreb, Croatia on July 3-10.

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