World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen fights to stay number 1

The chess champ told Bob Simon in 2012 that, if he loses even one game, he wants revenge. Carlsen will defend his title Wednesday

Norway's Magnus Carlsen is the top-ranked chess player in the world. World Chess Champion since 2013, he will defend his title Wednesday in a series of fast-paced tie-breakers against America's Fabiano Caruana.

Carlsen and Caruana have spent November neck-and-neck. After 12 games and 12 draws, the two will now face off in four speed chess games, where Caruana hopes to become the first American world champion since Bobby Fischer in 1972. But to do that, he has to outplay and outsmart Carlsen, a chess prodigy who earned the nickname the Mozart of chess.

Carlsen speaks with 60 Minutes' Bob Simon

CBS News

"But was Mozart ever asked how he does this?" Carlsen asked 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon in an interview that aired in February 2012. "I would be very impressed if he had a good answer to that because I think he would say … it comes natural to me. It's what I do."


In 2012, Magnus Carlsen played against 10 players with his back to them, unable to see the board

CBS News

Chess comes so easily to Carlsen that, like a musician, he can compose in his head. As Simon reported, Carlsen could simultaneously play against 10 players—without looking at the boards. He was able to blindly keep track of the 320 pieces and the infinite number of moves.


At 13 years old, Carlsen played Gary Kasparov to a tie. He was Kasparov's youngest opponent

CBS News

On Wednesday, he only has to follow the moves of Caruana. If the match is still tied after the speed games, the players will begin a series of two-game blitz matches. If somehow Carlsen and Caruana are still tied after the blitz games, the match will proceed to a sudden-death game called Armageddon.

Given Carlsen's playing style, the match is sure to be a battle.

"I enjoy it when I see my opponent really suffering when he knows that I've outsmarted him," Carlsen told Simon in 2012. "If I lose just one game, then usually, you know, I just want to really get revenge."

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