Carlsen, 27, a Norwegian chess grandmaster — who has held the no. 1 ranking since 2011 — is deadlocked against Caruana halfway through the 19-day world tournament.
The pair has played six surgically drawn-out matches so far at the College of Holborn in London–each of them lasting hours, and all ending in a tie.
Caruana — who rose to chess grandmaster at age 14 — nearly defeated Carlsen on Friday, but the Norwegian clawed back to avoid a loss.
If Caruana — currently ranked no. 2 in the world — can topple Carlsen, it would be the first time since 1972 that an American won the title. (It’s been 46 years since Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky to claim the coveted world championship.)
Carlsen has almost a supernatural ability to visualize and plot out moves before touching the pieces (he can play with his back to the chess board), and Caruana is described as having unshakable concentration, which guides his virtually flawless play.
The 12-match FIDE World Chess Championship runs through Nov. 29, and if the pair is still at a stalemate, the tournament will move to a tie-breaker–a series of games under shorter time controls.
Caruana continues to gain thousands of fans both young and old, particularly in the U.S. and Italy, as his fierce play and confident style lend a rare sense of appeal and swagger to the game.
Play resumes on Sunday, as Match 7 gets underway. Click here for the latest match results.