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Magnus Carlsen defeats Russian to retain chess title in nail-biting speed final

Published 01/12/2016

World champion Magnus Carlsen saw off his Russian challenger.
World champion Magnus Carlsen saw off his Russian challenger.

Reigning champ Magnus Carlsen of Norway has defeated Sergey Karjakin of Russia in the World Chess Championship in New York City.

Carlsen retained his title on Wednesday night by winning the best-of-four speed games with two wins and two draws.

Organisers estimate that 6 million people around the world followed the series of quick tie-breaking games - sort of like sudden death play in American football.

The championship prize is 1.1 million dollars (£880,000) divided between the two players. The winner gets 60%.

The New York championship recalled the East-West rivalry dating to the Cold War days when American Bobby Fischer beat Russian defender Boris Spassky in 1972.

Carlsen marked his 26th birthday by beating the Russian 26-year-old grandmaster with bold, aggressive moves in a series of tie-breakers capping three weeks of the World Chess Championship that was tied after 12 games; 10 draws and one win each.

Carlsen used a queen sacrifice to checkmate his opponent.

The setting was a refurbished New York City building overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge that was once the city's fish market.

Fans who paid 100 dollars (£80) to watch were riveted as the two grandmasters leaned into the tense game, barely moving, in total silence and deep in thought.

Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgar said the four lightning-quick games played on Wednesday - plus even faster ones that were not needed - were "like Russian roulette".

"Today, the faster games are a great show even for people who don't know the game," said Polgar, considered the greatest female player ever.

"Magnus is my hero because he takes risks, he's really exciting," said Pippa Millstone, a Manhattan 9-year-old who came to watch the tournament for her fourth time.

Many fans watched from homes and clubs across the globe. Some spent £12 for a pay-per-view live transmission, others to watch via high-tech goggles in 3-D virtual reality or by tracking moves on various free websites.

AP

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