After a few years of only so-so (but still world #1) results, Magnus has I believe won five tournaments in a row this year and he is leading in the sixth, currently running in Croatia.
He recently stated that he has learned some new chess ideas from AlphaZero, but more importantly he has shown up better prepared in the openings than his opponents, probably for the first time in his career. Yet his preparation has taken an extraordinary spin. Other grandmasters prepare the opening in the hope of achieving an early advantage over their opponents. Magnus’s preparation, in contrast, is directed at achieving an early disadvantage in the game, perhaps willing to tolerate as much as -0.5 or -0.6 by the standards of the computer (a significant but not decisive disadvantage, with -2 signifying a lost position). Nonetheless these are positions “out of book” where Magnus nonetheless feels he can outplay his opponent, and this is mostly opponents from the world top ten or fifteen.
So far it is working. One commentator wrote: “Magnus is turning into a crushing monster just like Garry. He isn’t the strangler anymore”
And it is hard to counter someone looking for a disadvantage!