For the first time since Bobby Fischer won the world chess championship in 1972, an American-born player has won the right to play for the world title.
Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana won the Candidates tournament in Berlin Tuesday, which means he’ll play a 12-game match against world champion Magnus Carlsen in London in November.
Minnetonka grandmaster Wesley So also was one of the eight players in Berlin battling for the right to take on the world champion, but So fell short, finishing in seventh place.
Caruana, 25, was born in Miami, but like Fischer, grew up in Brooklyn and learned to play chess there. He currently lives in St. Louis.
“The Candidates is over, and it was the most difficult and rewarding tournament of my life,” Caruana tweeted. “Still only half the goal — on to play Magnus in November!”
Caruana came out on top at the nearly three-week tournament, with a field that featured fellow American So, three Russians, an Armenian, an Azerbaijani and a player from China. Of the 14 games, Caruana won 5, lost 1 and drew the other 8.
Minnetonka’s So was competing in his first Candidates tournament and, at age 24, was the youngest player in the field and wasn’t considered one of the favorites. He won 1 game, lost 3 and drew the other 10 games. He’s currently ranked 7th in the world.
So said he was disappointed with his results, but added in a postgame news conference that it was “a very valuable learning experience for me, and I’m quite sure this won’t be my last Candidates.”
So is the reigning U.S. champion, and will be defending that title at the U.S. Chess Championship in St. Louis starting April 18. Caruana, a former U.S. champion, will be among those trying to take So’s title away.
World champion Carlsen, a 27-year-old Norwegian, likely will be favored to retain his title in November, as he already has done twice — in 2014 and 2016 — since he won the crown in 2013. Carlsen currently has the top chess rating in the world, and reached the highest rating of any player in history several years ago.
The world title match in London is expected to have a prize fund of 1 million euros, or about $1.23 million, with 60 percent typically going to the winner and 40 percent to the loser.