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World chess championship echoes Trump’s White House checkmate

Magnus Carlsen
Lex Van Lieshout | AFP | Getty Images

Is the world chess champion a Donald Trump fan?

It sure looked that way Friday afternoon in New York City when defending world champion Magnus Carlsen opened his title match against Sergey Karjakin with a series of moves that may have been a nod to President-elect Trump.

Carlsen surprised attendees by using the Trompowsky Attack, which left his bishop attacking Karjakin's knight after two moves.

That opening series isn't that commonly used, so it took several minutes for onlookers to identify what the Norwegian grandmaster was up to. The Trompowsky is a way to avoid a series of other openings that are heavily analyzed, echoing Trump's own refusal to play by the conventional political rule book.

One match commentator noted that Trump had won earlier in the week and now the Norwegian champion was using a similar-sounding method.

"It will be known from now on as the Trump-owsky Attack," one waggish spectator quipped.

Apparently Carlsen's own family recognized the similarity:

Chess.com tweet: Carlsen's father and sister speculate that he may have played the "Trump"owsky as a light joke! Thoughts? #worldchess2016

Despite his hat tip to the victorious Trump, Carlsen only managed an agreed-upon draw after 42 moves with Karjakin.

Trump raised the hackles of a number of American chess players last month when he incorrectly claimed that the United States does not have any grandmasters, the highest level of players in the royal game.

Trump even managed to get the term wrong when he said, while criticizing the difficulty of the nation withdrawing from multi-lateral trade agreements, "you can't terminate there's too many people, you go crazy. It's like you have to be a grand chess master. And we don't have any of them."

In fact, the U.S., with 90 grandmasters, has the third largest number of players with that title in the world out of all nations.

Friday's was the first game of a match that will run through the rest of the month in lower Manhattan at the FIDE World Chess Championship. Carlsen, the 25-year-old defending champion is the favorite against his 26-year-old Russian challenger.

Mig Greengard tweet: Magnus Carlsen a big favorite. The only way Karjakin has a chance is if he can take Michigan & Pennsylvania. #worldchess2016 #toosoon