This Friday (11/11), will mark the beginning of the 2016 World Chess Championship Match. Hosted in New York City, the 12-round event is poised to be an epic battle between 25-year-old reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and his opponent, 26-year-old Sergey Karjakin of Russia. And you can be sure that both players will be bringing everything they have to win the north of a million dollar cash prize.
For defending champion Magnus Carlsen — who is estimated to be worth roughly $10 Million — it’s unlikely the prize money is his biggest motivator.
Since an early age, Carlsen has been in the spotlight as a chess prodigy. At age 19, he became the youngest-ever world number one, and at age 21 he became the strongest chess player in history, after beating the former chess ratings record held by Garry Kasparov. In 2013, Carlsen took the crown as world champion, and he’s been racking up titles ever since. By many, Carlsen is considered the greatest chess player the world’s ever seen (sorry Bobby Fischer…), and when he takes the world stage in a few days, strengthening his legacy through another victory will be his primary focus.
Carlsen’s upcoming opponent Sergey Karjakin is nothing short of a chess prodigy himself. Karjakin’s most notable achievement is that he holds the record for being the youngest individual to ever be awarded the status of “Grandmaster”, having qualified for the title when he was only 12 years old.
Although the Crimea-born Karjakin has said he does not view his challengers as enemies, recent claims of Russian-lead hacks and Karjakin’s ties to Vladimir Putin have many people worried that Karjakin may be seeking an unfair competitive advantage.
Foul play may seem a little ridiculous when you’re talking about a chess tournament, but with two golden boys going to battle in their country’s honor and millions of viewers tuning in to watch — anything can happen.
Over the last few months, both competitors have surely put in hours of training in preparation for the match. Like most sports, knowing your opponent’s playbook (or plan of execution in this case), would give you a significant upper hand. In an effort to protect his game strategy, Magnus Carlsen has “called on Microsoft for help as fears grow Russian hackers will target him before next week’s World Championship”, according to The Telegraph.
Vibeke Hansen, a representative from Microsoft Norway responded to Carlsen’s request and assured the press that Microsoft will ensure “that Carlsen has a safe training environment and secure communication and collaboration tools”.