November 13, 2016

THROWBACK THROWDOWN:

A Throwback Showdown for Chess's New Generation (JONATHAN ZALMAN, Nov. 10, 2016, WSJ)

While the stakes of the 1972 showdown will likely never be matched, the World Chess Championship, which begins in New York on Friday, may represent the 21st-century's best chance to rekindle national intrigue in an slow-moving, ancient game that has struggled to gain an audience at its highest levels despite its popularity and ubiquity.

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen begins his title defense Friday against Sergey Karjakin in lower Manhattan. The best-of-12 match represents the first time a world championship match has been held in the U.S. since 1995, when Garry Kasparov defeated Viswanathan "Vishy" Anand on the Observation Deck on the 107th Floor of the World Trade Center.

Carlsen, a 25-year-old Norwegian, is seeking his third straight title. He is, by and large, the face of worldwide chess and perhaps the game's first household name since Kasparov or Fischer, the last American world champion. The 26-year-old Karjakin, who was born in Ukraine and represents Russia, is the world's No. 9-ranked player and holds the record for the youngest grandmaster at 12 years, 7 months (Carlsen is third youngest).

Though Carlsen is the odds-on favorite, it's difficult to determine which player faces the most pressure going into the match. If anything, the contest represents less of a boon for Carlsen--already an established star within the game and outside of it, especially in his native Norway--than it does his challenger, who no doubt has his Russian compatriots salivating at the prospect of a return to the chess mountaintop. "I would be very proud and very happy [to bring the trophy back to Moscow]" said Karjakin on Thursday. "It would be my dream. All my life I'm looking forward to trying to do it."

Posted by at November 13, 2016 6:46 PM

  

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