But that may be changing, at least partly because of Magnus Carlsen. The 23-year-old Norwegian, the reigning world champion, is blond and square-jawed; from certain angles, it’s as if you’re looking at Matt Damon. He has modeled for a clothing label, G-Star, in print ads (shot by Anton Corbijn, co-starring Liv Tyler) and television commercials (co-starring Lily Cole). And he has been aggressive about embracing new technologies. Mr. Carlsen has 85,000 Twitter followers and recently released an app, Play Magnus, that lets fans challenge simulations of him at different ages, from 5 to 23.
And, now, in Mr. Caruana, he has the kind of foil that chess fans think could make their sport electric again. Mr. Caruana is young, like Mr. Carlsen. He is immensely talented. He projects a certain image — bookish rather than fashionable, though his adherents say that doesn’t pose a problem.
“The nerd is the new celebrity,” Mr. Kuhn said. “Think of the rise of Benedict Cumberbatch and the Jack Dorseys of the world. Smart is the new handsome.”
See NY Times article.