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General Mar 2, 2023 | 11:12 PMby Tarjei Svensen

Carlsen faces Howell in last game as world champion

Magnus Carlsen makes his season debut for Offerspill Chess Club as his club is chasing its first title in the Norwegian League. The three classical games this weekend could be the last he plays as the reigning world champion.

Magnus Carlsen and David Howell are former teammates at Vålerenga, but will now face each other in the final round of the Norwegian Chess League | photo: Niki Riga

The final weekend of the Norwegian League will take place at Norway's national football stadium Ullevål in Oslo this weekend with Carlsen's club Offerspill in pole position to win its first title.

Going into the last three matches, Offerspill is on 12 points and has a one-point lead over Carlsen's former teammates at Vålerenga, champions for five of the last six seasons. Oslo Schakselskap is another point behind on 10 points.

Standings after round 6 of 9 in the Norwegian League

It's clearly something that means a lot for the club, as reinforcements have been brought in before the matches against Stavanger, Oslo Schakselskap and Vålerenga.

Offerspill's lineup includes Carlsen's second from the previous World Championship match, Dutch star Jorden van Foreest, and Indian teenage star Praggnanandhaa. Norway's #2 Aryan Tari is on board 4.

Aryan Tari and Magnus Carlsen will be in action for Offerspill Chess Club this weekend | photo: Norwegian Chess Federation

Carlsen's three classical games will be against 2341-rated FM Levi Andre Tallksen (brother of Geir Sune Tallaksen Østmoe, who drew Carlsen in a club game last year), Norway's #3 Jon Ludvig Hammer (2631) and none other than Champions Chess Tour commentator David Howell (2670).

The meeting with former teammate Howell will be of particular interest, with the two meeting for the first time in classical chess since the Norwegian won in the London Chess Classic in 2011.

The match between Offerspill and Vålerenga in the final round is likely to decide the winner of the Norwegian League

With a rating difference of more than 300 points on average, Carlsen's expected score this weekend is slightly below 2.5 points. That means that a perfect score will lead to a rating gain of six points. If he concedes one draw, he will still gain one point.

Carlsen's appearance in the Norwegian League is expected to be his last as the reigning world champion in classical chess. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren will begin their match in Astana, Kazakhstan on April 7th, while Carlsen is not scheduled to play any classical events until Norway Chess, which runs May 29 to June 9.

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