Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana play game one of their 12-game, €1m match for the world title on Friday afternoon.

Action starts at 3pm at The College, Southampton Row, Holborn, London, where daily spectator tickets are £55 upwards while $20 will access official online pay per view for the entire match. Other chess websites will show the games free, possibly with a time delay.

The Norwegian, 27, and the American, 26, are Nos 1 and 2 in the world rankings, separated by just three rating points. Carlsen has been at the top for all of seven years, which will affect the match psychology in the early games since if Caruana takes the lead, he also acquires the top spot.

But if the series enters its second half with Carlsen level or ahead, a different factor comes into play. After 6-6, there will be increasingly fast speed tie-breaks. Carlsen ranks far stronger than Caruana in blitz, and he has never lost a tie-break.

The mathematical chance of 6-6 is quite high, and is why Carlsen remains a solid favourite at around 9-5 on in the match betting.

Technically, Carlsen will be prepared for Caruana’s favourite Petroff Defence 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6. Plan B for the champion is less clear and could involve an offbeat opening like 1 b3.


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