Culture

World Chess Championship Heads to Overtime, Is 'Armageddon' Nigh?

Sergey Karjakin (R) of Russia makes a move against his opponent Magnus Carlsen (L) of Norway during round 12 of the 2016 World Chess Championship match in New York U.S., November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton - RTSTQL0

For the chess lovers out there, this World Chess Championship just got real.

Tiebreaker games at the World Chess Championship will begin this afternoon. Over the past 19 days, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the defending champion, fought his challenger, Sergey Karjakin of Russia, to a 6-6 tie in their best-of-12 match and the battle for chess’s top prize.

And they’re not done yet. According to the FIDE match rules, this is how the tiebreaker will go:

First, a mini-match of four rapid games will be played. Each player gets 25 minutes for all of his moves, plus 10 bonus seconds after every move played.

If the players remain tied after those four games,1 they’ll play a mini-match of two blitz games. Each player will get five minutes, plus three seconds after every move. They’ll keep playing those, if the two-game mini-matches are tied, for up to five total mini-matches (10 total blitz games).

Finally, if none of that settles it, they’ll play one sudden-death game using a format known as Armageddon. White gets five minutes and black gets four minutes, but a drawn game counts as a win for black.

Like FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder (who will be covering the tiebreaker game(s) at the site), I’m rooting for the Armageddon option. It’s the kind of thing that might make casual chess fans pay attention, even if for a day. In this era of catering to short attention spans, chess still has an anachronistic charm but doesn’t get a lot of exposure in America. Maybe these quicker tiebreaker formats can hook some new fans.

A live stream of the tiebreaker games can be found here.