Norway's Magnus Carlsen Is New Chess World Champion : The Two-Way The 22-year-old prodigy defeated India's Viswanathan Anand over 10 games in Chennai, India. Carlsen becomes the highest-rated player of all time.
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Norway's Magnus Carlsen Is New Chess World Champion

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Norway's Magnus Carlsen Is New Chess World Champion

Norway's Magnus Carlsen Is New Chess World Champion

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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They are celebrating in Norway tonight. Native son Magnus Carlsen has won the chess world championship. He's just 22-years-old and, as we heard on the program earlier this week, he has become a huge celebrity, even a sex symbol back home.

In Chennai, India, where the championship was played, Carlsen's team celebrated his victory by throwing him into a swimming pool. Carlsen promptly tweeted a picture. He's in the pool, soaking wet, his fingers raised in a number one salute. He dethroned the reigning champion, Viswanathan Anand of India, with three wins and seven draws, forcing Anand into making several key mistakes.

MAGNUS CARLSEN: People crack under pressure, even in world championships.

BLOCK: Chief sportswriter Mads Burheim with the newspaper Dagbladet joins me now from Oslo and Mr. Burheim, are Norwegians dancing in the streets with this win?

MADS BURHEIM: Well, there should be but it's like 20 degrees out now, so there's no dancing in the streets, per se, but I think everybody's dancing at home maybe.

BLOCK: Too cold for dancing outside, but the celebration is still going on. This is a huge, huge deal for Norway, right?

BURHEIM: Yeah, absolutely. Everybody's been following Carlsen's matches for two weeks and the interest has been extraordinary, I have to say. The traffic on our website has been unprecedented and it's been a little bit of a surprise for us as well.

BLOCK: Why is that?

BURHEIM: Chess has never been a big sport here in Norway. Of course, when Carlsen rose to fame, we started paying attention and when these world championships became reality, we started covering it more seriously. And, but still, it's considered a board game for many. And when it got the numbers and the ratings and the viewership on TV that it has gotten, it was amazing to see.

BLOCK: So after he won today, Magnus Carlsen said, I really hope this can have some positive effect for chess, both in Norway and worldwide. I know a lot of people who don't play chess found it very interesting to follow. And it sounds like that the popularity of the game has really soared in Norway, with sales of games and chess apps also.

BURHEIM: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. What we can measure, which is the traffic on the websites and maybe - I heard that the one chess store we have in Norway, it's in a small town outside of Oslo, they are sold out of almost every board and much of the other merchandise. So I think the chess federation are looking to capitalize in the next months, recruiting new talents. I think that's the thing they're focused on.

BLOCK: Well, what do you think happens when Magnus Carlsen comes home?

BURHEIM: Well, he's landing in Oslo on Sunday, I see, and he's obviously going to get a big reception at the airport, which is common for Norwegian sports heroes when they come home. So there will be a lot of fans there, his family, the ones who were not in Chennai will be there. And after that, I think he will probably cover most news sites and TV outlets for the weeks to come.

BLOCK: I was trying to figure out whether he would have a parade back home.

BURHEIM: I don't think so.

BLOCK: Not the Norwegian thing to do.

BURHEIM: No. There were a few parades. I think the last one we had were an impromptu on when we beat Brazil in the soccer world championships 20 years ago. And chess is not at that level yet, but maybe with Magnus, it will happen someday.

BLOCK: Well, a day of big national pride there in Norway. Mr. Burheim, thanks so much for talking with us.

BURHEIM: Oh, thanks for having me.

BLOCK: Mads Burheim is chief sportswriter with the newspaper Dagladet in Oslo. We were talking about the victory today by Magnus Carlsen who is now the world chess champion.

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