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World Chess Championship Enters Its Final Sudden Death Round

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

After two weeks of play, the world championship of chess is entering its final sudden death round.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, both 26 years old, played 12 games. And they are still locked in a tie. Their last game was the shortest in championship history, taking only 36 minutes and 30 moves.

INSKEEP: Makes you wonder how long the longest game went.

GREENE: Yeah.

INSKEEP: Anyway, later today the two are going to play a series of rapid and blitz tiebreaker games with much shorter time restrictions. You do play chess with a clock at the professional level. Carlsen, the reigning champion, has a better record in these formats than his opponent. Some commentators see political symbolism here. They see parallels to the 1972 Cold War showdown between Bobby Fischer, an American, and Boris Spassky.

GREENE: Like Bobby Fischer, Magnus Carlsen is a prodigy, the highest-rated grandmaster ever. He has a cult following in Norway and has even modeled for a Dutch clothing company. Sergey Karjakin, meanwhile, was born...

INSKEEP: With or without the chessboard? I want to know. Holding a chess piece - anyway, go on.

GREENE: (Laughter) I want to know, too. His opponent, Karjakin, was born in Ukrainian Crimea but defected to Russia and he's a strong supporter of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

INSKEEP: Geopolitics aside, both players say they're looking forward to this long tournament being over. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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