- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana will be the first American in decades to play for the world championship title after the winning the candidates tournament outright in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday.

The Miami-born Mr. Caruana, 25, bested seven of the world’s strongest players in a double round-robin tournament to qualify for the right to take on reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway. He defeated Armenia’s Levon Aronian and Russian grandmaster Alexander Grischuk in the final two rounds to pull away from his closest pursuers with a 9-5 score.

The 12-game title match against Mr. Carlsen, who has held the title since 2013, is set to take place in November in London.

No American had held the title since Bobby Fischer relinquished the crown in 1975, three years after his epic triumph over Soviet star Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Russian-born grandmaster Gata Kamsky, who moved to the United States in 1989, lost a title match to Russian star Anatoly Karpov in 1996, at a time when the world chess crown as divided between rival claimants.

Mr. Caruana, who holds dual citizenship and played for a time for the Italian national foundation, has long been one of the most promising U.S. players, at one time holding the second highest playing rating in the world behind Mr. Carlsen. He was the 2016 U.S. national champion and played first board for the American team which in 2016 won its first gold medal in 40 years at the biennial chess Olympiad.

Chess experts are already predicting a hard-fought match between the two longtime rivals. In games played at classical tournament time controls, Mr. Caruana has won five, lost nine and drawn 17 in head-to-head battles with Mr. Carlsen.


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