Magnus Carlsen Is Not Saving Chess

Miami-born challenger Fabiano Caruana during a press conference after the first round of the World Chess Championship in London.Fredrik Varfjell/Bildbyran via ZUMA

The World Chess Championship is currently being played in London, pitting Magnus Carlsen, the three-time defending champion from Norway, against Fabiano Caruana, the challenger from the United States. The fourth game ended in a draw a couple of hours ago, just like all the games so far. The tournament score is 2-2.

Right now chess has a lot going for it. Carlsen is an affable, young, insanely talented prodigy. Caruana is even younger and is the first American to play for the world championship since you-know-who. But that doesn’t seem to be doing it any good.

Google Trends is hardly the final statement on what people do and don’t care about, but it sure seems to suggest that chess is becoming even less popular than it used to be:

Worldwide, interest in chess is perhaps eroding even more quickly than it is in the United States. Even in Norway interest has slackened since Carlsen won his first world championship in 2013. In Russia, interest has cratered since the era of endless Russian dominance ended about a decade ago. The only country where it seems to be on an upswing is China, for reasons that escape me.

Anyway, the fifth game will be played Thursday at 10 am Eastern if you want to watch over the internet. Caruana will be playing white.


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