The Dark Side of Chess: Payoffs, Points and 12-Year-Old Grandmasters

When is a grandmaster’s title less than grand?

Credit…Misha Friedman for The New York Times

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By Ivan Nechepurenko and Misha Friedman

KYIV, Ukraine — Sergei Karjakin had only one game of chess left, and he had to win it.

It should have been an easy task. The opponent was the lowest-ranked player in the tournament. Karjakin was one of the rising talents in chess, a poised and accomplished boy of 12 years 7 months who was, at that moment, one victory from becoming the game’s youngest grandmaster.

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