New York (AFP) – The Norwegian reigning world chess champion Magnus Carlsen beat his Russian rival, the prodigy Sergei Karyakin, in game 10 of the World Chess Championship in New York to tie the tournament, one of the most dramatic battles for the crown in decades.
Carlsen’s victory on Thursday leaves each player with five points, increasing the chances the epic best-of-12-game match will be extended if both players end up tied on Nov. 30, the last day of competition.
A draw is worth half a point and a win one point.
“It is a huge relief,” the world champion since 2014 told reporters after his victory, which follows one defeat and eight draws. “I hadn’t won in 10 games and that hadn’t happened to me before.”
The Norwegian admitted to feeling tired at the end of game 10. “Several games have been five, six, seven hours and it is taking its toll,” he said.
Now “it is more likely than it was before today” that the championship will move into tie-breakers after the 12th game, he added.
The player first to reach 6.5 points will be declared world champion and take home $636,000. The loser will walk away with a consolation prize of 400,000 euros.
It’s unusual for the championship to feature two such young players in what chess experts consider to be the most interesting match in 30 years. Karyakin is 26 years old and Carlsen, 25, turns the same age on November 30.
Vladimir Kramnik was the last Russian to win the world championship, which he took in 2007.
The battle has prompted comparisons with the 1972 showdown between American Bobby Fischer and the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky, two rivals in the Cold War-era whose showdown was dubbed the “Match of the Century.”