World Chess Cham­pi­onship starts with Har­rel­son blun­der

Stabroek News - - SPORT -

LON­DON, (Reuters) - World Chess Cham­pi­onship of­fi­cials might re­think the role of cer­e­mo­nial starter af­ter Hollywood ac­tor Woody Har­rel­son knocked over a king and moved the wrong pawn in a com­i­cal start to the 2018 event in Lon­don yes­ter­day.

Nor­we­gian ti­tle holder Mag­nus Carlsen and Fabi­ano Caru­ana were be­mused on­look­ers as the U.S. ac­tor be­gan their ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated match-up by knock­ing over the Amer­i­can chal­lenger’s king, the move that tra­di­tion­ally sig­nals a con­ces­sion.

Caru­ana had asked the “Hunger Games” and “Cheers” ac­tor to move his pawn to start the game, only for Har­rel­son to hit the king and moved a dif­fer­ent piece.

A bewil­dered Caru­ana ini­tially ap­peared to ac­cept the mis­take be­fore of­fi­cials al­lowed the pawn to be re­turned. A grin­ning Har­rel­son then moved the cor­rect pawn be­fore quickly ex­it­ing the stage.

It was a memorable start to the 1 mil­lion euro ($1.1 mil­lion) con­test, which or­gan­is­ers ex­pect to be watched by mil­lions around the world. The duo are sched­uled to play 12 matches through November, with the win­ner the first to reach 6.5 points.

Carlsen, 27, has won the last three cham­pi­onships and is the world’s top ranked player. He be­came a chess grand­mas­ter at 13.

Caru­ana, 26, is bid­ding to be­come the first Amer­i­can to win the ti­tle since the enig­matic and volatile Bobby Fis­cher beat Rus­sia’s Boris Spassky at the height of the Cold War in 1972.

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