Magnus Carlsen is that rare chess grandmaster who is both the No. 1 player in the world and, according to the U.K. edition of Cosmopolitan magazine, one of the 100 sexiest men of 2013. ("Check this hottie out!") The boyishly handsome Carlsen, with his dimpled grin and surfer's hair, has done some modeling and wears snazzy blazers to advertise his sponsors during matches. The 22-year-old Carlsen is a celebrity fixture, too, having defeated Stephen Colbert in rock-paper-scissors and, of course, met Jay-Z.
His global fame is one reason why some believe the World Chess Championship in November between Carlsen and reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand is the most-anticipated chess match since Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in 1972. Carlsen is already the youngest No. 1 in the history of chess. A win in the world championship would establish the Norwegian as one of the five best players ever.
As it turns out, though, staging the sport's grandest event in 40 years has been a chess game in itself.