Not since Bobby Fischer nabbed the title in 1972 has an American been named world chess champion. That could change within a week's time. Italian-American Fabiano Caruana, for a time the youngest grandmaster in US history, is facing off against Norway's top-ranked defending champion Magnus Carlsen in a best-of-12 tournament, with points even after eight games. Game 9 kicks off Wednesday before a final Nov. 28 showdown, if required. Who has the leg up?
- The champ: Carlsen, 27, is certainly intimidating, having carried the world's top rank for eight straight years. He also has a large fan base as a celebrity and model in Norway. As World Chess Federation CEO Ilya Merenzon tells NBC News, "Even his dog is famous."
- The challenger: At No. 2, however, 26-year-old Caruana nearly matches Carlsen in ability and performance, per NBC. "It's 50-50, either of them could win, which makes it really interesting," says Ukrainian chess grandmaster Mikhail Golubev.