By Andrew Keh, photographs by Linda Bournane Engelberth
Please use the link above to read the entire article. For current coverage (event runs through November 28th unless decided sooner by a sufficient winning margin on the part of one of the players), I recommend The Week in Chess, my go-to source for chess news (which I haven't been reporting on much the past few years, particularly world championships involving only male players. Snore.) It is nice to have an American player competing for the title, it's been a lllooooonnnnggggg time.
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OSLO — Late on Friday night, a couple hundred people were packed into a dimly lit, stylishly decorated bar in the heart of Oslo’s downtown night-life district.
The place already was generating considerable buzz. It had been open for only a week, but one recent night the line to enter had snaked down the block. Inside, it felt like so many of the other hip spots in downtown Oslo — candlelight illuminating framed artwork on the walls, conversation humming over the clink of beer glasses — except for one small detail: the chess games happening at every table and countertop.
"That’s the Magnus Effect,” said Martin Mortensen, a 32-year-old software developer at the bar, referring to the Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen. “Almost everyone in Norway has some relationship to chess nowadays. It’s on T.V. and in newspapers all the time."
He scanned the overflowing room. “It’s bizarre."
* * * * *"Bizarre?" No more bizarre than the chess fever that swept through an entire generation of American chess players back in 1972 when American Bobby Fischer challenged the Russian chess champion juggernaut - AND WON! Chess infected millions of youngsters and others all across the country and churned out a great number of revered American chess Grandmasters who competed on the world stage for years, although none achieved the same level of fame as Fischer.
Now chess is once again being rejuvenated in America, this time by an unlikely source in the Sinquefield billionaire husband and wife team in St. Louis, Missouri. GM Susan Polgar, one of the three famous Polgar sisters originally from Hungary, has lived in the US for years, centered first in New York where she met Fabiano Caruana at her chess training center when he was just a youngster. She saw his promise as a player. Polgar eventually moved to Texas Tech to establish a chess training program that drafted players from around the world to come to the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock, Texas to play for the che, ss team while earning college degrees. Some years later, Polgar moved to Webster University in St. Louis, where she remains today, at the helm of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence.
If you're interested, you can check out the somewhat "checkered" history of the title of World Chess Championship during the modern era, involving both FIDE and "not FIDE" titles. Information comes directly from Wikipedia:
- 3.1Leading players before the World Chess Championships
- 3.2Undisputed world champions (1886–1993)
- 3.3Classical (PCA/Braingames) world champions (1993–2006)
- 3.4FIDE world champions (1993–2006)
- 3.5Undisputed world champions (2006–present)