For the first time in almost 50 years, an American has the chance to be crowned world chess champion. Not since Bobby Fischer nabbed the title in 1972 has a US-born player even made it to the final table of the world tournament, reports the Guardian. Fabiano Caruana, however, just secured his seat. After three weeks of play in Berlin, the US grandmaster, ranked third in the world, rose above seven top players to win the Candidates Tournament on Tuesday, meaning he'll face Norway's Magnus Carlsen in London in November, reports FiveThirtyEight. Caruana's victory looked shaky after a loss to Russia's Sergey Karjakin, who beat him in the 2016 tournament and went on to lose to Carlsen. But the 25-year-old rallied in a final, six-hour match to take home $118,000 in winnings. "I am absolutely thrilled," the Miami-born Caruana says.
He started playing chess at an after-school program at age 5 after his family moved to Brooklyn. For a time the youngest grandmaster in US history, Caruana went on to join the US chess team, which he rejoined in 2015 after a move to Italy. He's played Carlsen, champion since 2013, more than 50 times over the years. In 31 matches of roughly the same length as those to be played in London, he lost nine and won five. There were 17 draws. Based on those outcomes, ChessGames.com predicts Caruana's chance of stealing Carlsen's title is about 30%, per FiveThirtyEight. Still, "Fabiano is the single most dangerous challenger that Magnus could face," four-time US chess champion Yasser Seirawan tells CBS News. "It will be a tough fight" but "I'll come well-prepared," Caruana adds, per the Guardian. (Better start the trash talk and dance music.)