Magnus Carlsen won the World Chess Championship in a soundproof glass box on Wednesday evening. Norway’s Magnus Carlsen has successfully defended the world chess championship after winning rapid-game playoff with a victories in the third and fourth games after draws in the first two.

The world’s top-ranked player, who turned 26 on Wednesday, finally seen off the dogged efforts of Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin. It took nearly three weeks, 12 closely fought games and a day of high-speed tiebreakers to decide the World Chess Championship. Karjakin tied against Carlsen in 12 regular rounds but was beaten in the final phase of four quickfire games.

“Karjakin only wanted to prove he was Carlsen’s equal,” said Denes Boros, a Hungarian grandmaster and chess commentator who was at the event. “Carlsen came to prove he was greater.” In the end, he was.

Organisers said the event was followed by about six million chess fans around the world. Spectators at the Fulton Market Building in Lower Manhattan, many of them students of past championships, declared the match outstanding, with each player pressing minute advantages or finding inventive defences against whatever attack the other threw at him.

“It’s one of the highest-quality matches on both sides,” said Lev Alburt, a grandmaster who has followed championship matches since 1954. “Even the fact of many draws, almost all have been achieved in very sharp play. Both players are trying to squeeze something almost from nothing. Where other players would play safe, both keep playing for a win, creating problems for their opponent at a risk to themselves.” “It’s one of the most exciting championship matches in history,” he said. “If you’re a beginner, you can learn a lot, and if you’re a grandmaster, you can learn a lot.”