General Jul 15, 2021 | 9:58 AMby Leon Watson

Carlsen's act of sportsmanship vs Ding wins FIDE award

World Champion Magnus Carlsen has been honoured for an outstanding act of sportsmanship in last year's Chessable Masters tournament.

The Norwegian deliberately lost his second game against Ding Liren in the $150,000 online event's semi-finals after the Chinese player had suffered a disconnection in the previous encounter.

It was a key moment in their clash — but that didn't stop Carlsen wanting to ensure they were playing on a level playing field.

In recognition of that moment, Carlsen will be presented with the 2020 Fair Play Svetozar Gligoric trophy today, minutes before his debut game at the 2021 FIDE World Cup in Sochi.

The spirit of the Fair Play Svetozar Gligoric Trophy is to give recognition to an individual who, during the previous year, had displayed exemplary behaviour that promotes the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship in chess.

The incident with Ding occurred in June last year when all chess activities and competitions had been transferred to the online arena and Play Magnus Group launched the new Tour named after Carlsen.

But Ding, playing from China, struggled repeatedly with connection problems throughout the whole series of events — so much so that they were dubbed "Dingsconnections". In the final moments of his first game against Carlsen, he suffered an unfortunate disconnection at a vital moment.

Unable to get back online in time, the Chinese Grandmaster lost the game.

Minutes later, in the second game, the World Champion gave up his queen and resigned after just four moves to restore parity in the match.

Despite the high stakes, and despite being a ruthless competitor, Carlsen demonstrated that "winning fair" was far more important to him than winning at any cost.

Carlsen said: 

I have immense respect for Ding as a chess player and as a human being. I thought against him this was the only correct way and clearly I wanted to win on the board. I might have kicked myself if I’d lost one of the last two games but I think it was the right thing to do.

Carlsen received almost universal praise for his act and was dubbed "Magnus the Magnanimous".

The Gligoric Trophy was established by FIDE in 2019, and its winner is selected annually by the Award Commission chaired by Mahir Mammedov and its two members, Grandmasters Judit Polgar, a FIDE Honorary Vice-President, and fellow legend Eugenio Torre.

The award is named after Svetozar Gligoric, one of the top players in the world in the 1950s and 1960s, and also one of the most engaging personalities in chess at the time.

At the chessboard, Gligoric was an uncompromising fighter, and at the same time a symbol of fair play and correctness. His impeccable reputation was a deserved result of his success in both chess and fair-play.

Gligoric’s trademark was great respect for his chess opponents: his main principle was — "It’s chess pieces, not a man, I play against!" It's no coincidence that the book of Gligoric’s selected games is called “I play against pieces!”

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