If all goes as per Magnus Carlsen's plans, the 22-year-old Norwegian should become the new world chess champion on Friday. The Norwegian sensation is a draw away the crown after scoring his third win over reigning champion Viswanathan Anand in the 12-game title duel on Thursday. Carlsen, the current world number one, won the crucial ninth game after Anand resigned following an engrossing 56-move match that lasted three hours and 21 minutes.
Having also won the fifth and sixth games and drawn the other six, the Norwegian needs only a draw in Friday's 10th game to take his tally to an unbeatable 6.5 points. Carlsen, visibly relieved at emerging unscathed from the keenly-fought contest, did not respond when asked by reporters if the crown was now virtually in the bag. He preferred to dwell instead on the tough battle provided by the Indian in his home city of Chennai.
"This was a very difficult game," Carlsen said. "The positions were complicated. I had to find the right moves to regain balance. "There was a fear of being mated all the time."
Anand, who at 43 is 21 years older than his rival and is in danger of losing the title he has held since 2007, conceded it will need a miraculous turnaround to keep his chances alive. "I need three wins in-a-row," he said. "I can try but the situation does not look very good."
For more than three years, Carlsen has been the uncrowned king of chess. The Norwegian has been the No. 1 player in the world almost continuously since January 2010. Carlsen will play with white pieces on Friday and will definitely be in an advantageous position against Anand, who has been rather subdued in this championship.
The total prize fund for the title clash is about $2.24 million with the winner getting 60 per cent and the loser taking home the rest.
(With inputs from AFP)