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Norwegian grandmaster holds onto chess world championship after rapid tiebreakers

Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen has defended his chess world championship title by beating American challenger Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in rapid tiebreaker games.

Tiebreakers forced after more than 50 hours of play over 3 weeks resulted in draw

Reigning chess world champion, Norway's Magnus Carlsen, held onto his title Wednesday after a series of rapid tiebreakers. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen has defended his chess world championship title by beating American challenger Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in rapid tiebreaker games.

After their three-week match ended in 12 draws, Carlsen wrapped up the victory quickly Wednesday with three straight wins to build an unassailable lead in the best-of-four rapid format. The tiebreakers were played with 25 minutes for each player per game, while the 12 previous classical-style games lasted up to seven hours each.

Caruana, 26, was trying to become the first American since Bobby Fischer in 1972 to become the chess world champion.

It's the third time Carlsen has successfully defended his title after winning it from Viswanathan Anand of India in 2013.

Carlsen has defended his chess world championship title by beating Caruana 3-0 in rapid tiebreaker games. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

The 27-year-old has created a chess craze in Norway, where his matches are front-page news and often shown live on TV. In 2014, he checkmated Microsoft founder Bill Gates in nine moves on a Norwegian talk show, using just 12 seconds on the clock.

For a global audience, these world championships have been live streamed online with several top grandmasters providing play-by-play commentary and analysis, aided by super computers that instantly evaluate each position.

The first game, on Nov. 9, came closest to a decisive result but Carlsen failed to convert a winning advantage and had to settle for a draw after a seven-hour tussle. In the end, Carlsen and Caruana played for more than 50 hours over the course of the competition. 

Carlsen and Caruana concentrate at the final day of the World chess Championship in London. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

Carlsen's previous title fight against Russian Sergey Karjakin also went to tiebreakers in 2016 after they only managed to win one game each.

But despite the lack of knockout blows, this year's championship has still had some drama as both players have missed good chances to win games. Carlsen even showed up with a black eye for one game after getting injured playing soccer on an off-day.

Carlsen receives 550,000 euros ($825,000 Cdn) for the win while Caruana gets 450,000 euros ($675,000 Cdn).

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