Magnus Carlsen beats Ian Nepomniachtchi to retain World Chess Championship title – as it happened

Nepomniachtchi may be down and almost out, but he is assured a place in the eight-player 2022 Candidates.

If he wins that, then historical parallels – Vasily Smyslov in 1954 and 1957, Boris Spassky in 1966 and 1969, and Garry Kasparov in 1984 and 1985 – suggest that he will have benefited from the harsh learning experience to make a much better fight at a second attempt.

Of course, a second shot is far from guaranteed, and any of Alireza Firouzja, Ding Liren or Caruana will be more likely contenders.

For Carlsen, barring an unlikely slip-up this weekend, the outcome provides the most convincing match performance of his four championship defences since 2014, and edges him closer to becoming generally accepted as the all-time No 1 ahead of Kasparov and Bobby Fischer.

The joker in the pack remains Carlsen’s repeated hints that at some stage he will retire from Fide title competition and only take part in a series, akin to the online Champions Tour, where games at two-hour rapid rather than four-hour classical become the norm.

Could that happen as early as next week? It seems unlikely, given that in the next few years there will be a growing public demand for a Carlsen v Firouzja championship match at classical time rates.