What will happen on the final day of the World Chess Championship

Twelve games. Twelve draws.
Twelve games. Twelve draws.
Image: REUTERS/Paul Childs
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

After 12 games at the World Chess Championship in London, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, who is aiming to become the first American chess champion since Bobby Fischer in 1972, are tied.

The match has already made history “of an ignoble kind,” according to the  World Chess Federation—this is the first title match with no victories in regulation.

That means that the title will be decided by a series of quick tiebreaker games starting at 3pm local time on Wednesday (Nov. 28). The format is as follows:

  1. They will begin with four games of rapid chess. Each player is limited to only 25 minutes, with 10 seconds added after each move.
  2. If there’s still no winner, the players move on two games of blitz chess. There, each player is limited to only five minutes, with three seconds added after each move. If there is no winner, they play a further two games of blitz chess.
  3. And finally, if all else fails, Carlsen and Caruana will play in a game of Armageddon chess. The players are given black or white at random. White will start with five minutes, while Black only has four. Because of Black’s time disadvantage, he only has to play to draw to win the championship.

Carlsen has been the world number one since 2011, world champion since 2013, and is now a celebrity beyond the game. Caruana is in his first-ever world final. In the 12th and final game of regulation play, despite seeming to be in a dominant position, Carlsen surprised many by offering Caruana a draw. This caused Russian chess legend Gary Kasparov to change his mind on who was the favorite going into the last day of the championship.

That said, Carlsen won his last championship in 2016 by winning the last two rapid-chess games when it went to the final day. And the World Chess Federation ranks him number one at rapid chess.

There is also a World Blitz Chess Championship and the current champion is… Magnus Carlsen.