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Two chess grandmasters are facing off in a series of quickfire games to decide the winner of the World Chess Championships following a month-long stalemate.

Reigning champion Magnus Carlsen, from Norway, and his competitor Fabiano Caruana, an American, have been in deadlock over the sport’s biggest title, which carries with it a cash prize of €1m (£880,000).

This evening the pair are playing a series of increasingly fast tie-breakers which could end in an “Armageddon” game.

The series starts with four games where each player will have 25 minutes to complete his moves.

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The pair have played each other 12 times already

If that doesn’t produce an overall winner, the contenders will play a series of two-game “blitz” matches.

If 10 of those still do not bring anyone out on top, they will play a sudden death “Armageddon” match which will ensure there is a winner.

So far the pair have played each other 12 times – each tie lasted several hours and resulted in a tie.

Mr Carlsen, 27, is renowned for his skill in the “blitz” form of the game.

But if Caruana, 26, can finally beat him, he will become just the second American to hold the world title.

A detective agency was hired for this series to ensure no one cheated, with metal detectors, device sweeping, and advanced surveillance employed to keep the championships clean.

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Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou facing extradition to the US after arrest in Canada

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The global chief financial officer of Chinese phone firm Huawei is facing extradition to the US after being arrested in Canada.

Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, has been detained in Vancouver in relation to suspected violations by Huawei of US sanctions placed on Iran.

Huawei is one of the largest makers of telecommunications network equipment in the world and is thought to have been shipping products from America to the Middle Eastern country since at least 2016.

Huawei has become one of the world's leading smartphone manufacturers
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Huawei has become one of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers

The firm has confirmed the arrest of Ms Meng, which happened on 1 December, but said it was “not aware of any wrongdoing” by its CFO, who will appear in court for a bail hearing on Friday.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa has called for her immediate release.

It said in a statement: “The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim.

“The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms Meng Wanzhou.”

US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are attempting to agree trade terms
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The arrest could reignite tension between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump

News of the arrest came on the same day that BT announced it would be removing Huawei-manufactured equipment from its 3G and 4G mobile networks.

Western countries have become increasingly wary of working with Huawei over fears it could provide the Chinese government with avenues for espionage.

Australia barred Huawei from providing 5G technology for its wireless networks over the summer and New Zealand followed suit in November.

In October, former security minister Admiral Lord West told Sky News that allowing Chinese companies to play a role in the introduction of 5G in the UK could compromise our critical data infrastructure.

Despite being completely locked out of the US, Huawei surpassed Apple earlier this year to become the number two smartphone maker in the world – only behind Samsung.

It has been helped by securing an increased share of the UK market, with TechRadar reporting that its acclaimed P20 handset had contributed to a rise from 2.7% to 13.7% in the three months leading up to July 2018.

The arrest of Ms Meng last week happened as Chinese President Xi Jinping dined with Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Mr Xi and Mr Trump agreed a 90-day trade truce during the event and are set to begin negotiations to end their ongoing trade war, but the arrest of a top executive at a major Chinese company seems likely to re-escalate tensions between the countries.

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Search underway after US warplanes crash off Japan

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Six US servicemen are missing after two American warplanes collided in midair and crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

The US Marine Corps said an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 tanker aircraft were involved in the accident, which happened off the southwestern coast of Japan during “regularly scheduled training” on Thursday.

Of the seven crew members on board the planes – five on the KC-130 and two on the F/A-18 – only one has been found so far.

Japanese rescuers said he was in a stable condition and are continuing to search the waters for the other six servicemen about 60 miles south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku island.

The US Marines said: “We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation.”

Both planes are usually based at a US site in Iwakuni, west of Hiroshima, where many of the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan also stay.

The crash comes just a month after a US F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Okinawa.

And in mid-October, an MH-60 Seahawk belonging to the same carrier crashed off the Philippine Sea after takeoff.

Nobody was killed in either of the accidents.

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Don’t expect Russia or US to budge in nuclear weapons row

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Vladimir Putin has accused the US of starting an unofficial arms race – a day after Washington threatened to pull out of a key treaty limiting nuclear arms.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump administration will ditch the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty within 60 days unless Moscow dismantles missiles that allegedly violate the agreement.

However, Russia’s president claimed the US has decided it “has to have these weapons”, prompting his country to “do the same” in response.

Sky’s Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay says the world could become a considerably more dangerous place if the treaty falls apart:

Russia will not provide. It will not kowtow to NATO. The Cold War days of watching piles of missiles burn are over.

The Kremlin professes to a desire to safeguard the treaty, and wearily laments the US rush to withdraw.

On Tuesday, the US had threatened to withdraw from a major Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear missiles, demanding that Russia dismantle weapons it claims violate the deal.

But Vladimir Putin has responded to the threats with defiance.

He rejects the charge of non-compliance, arguing instead that the US is in violation because of the supposed dual-use capabilities of some of its European-based missile launchers.

Mike Pompeo has issued Russia an ultimatum
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Mike Pompeo has issued Russia an ultimatum

Last Friday, the US director of national intelligence Dan Coats outlined for the first time the specifics of the Russian violation.

This is worth explaining – so bear with me.

This is the first time since the Obama administration first claimed a Russian breach that we have seen this level of data with regard to Russian weapon testing.

Coats said Russia had flight-tested the Novator-9M729 missile to distances over 500km from a fixed ground-based launcher.

Such a test would be under the terms of the treaty – if there was no intention to keep the missile ground-based.

Russia then tested it from a mobile launcher – which could be anything as simple as a truck – to distances less than 500km.

Put those two together, and the Russians have ergo tested a medium-range missile from a mobile launcher – prohibited by the treaty.

One military analyst here told me it would be possible to fill the fuel tank with less fuel and it would travel less far.

For Russia, this is called following the letter of the law. For the US and NATO, it is breaking the spirit of the agreement.

Both sides are at loggerheads. Don’t expect either to budge.

The Kremlin has made absolutely clear since Donald Trump first announced he wanted out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty that Russia would be obliged to place missiles pointing in Europe’s direction if the US placed missiles in Europe pointing in theirs.

Mr Putin repeated that today.

His chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, went further – reminding assembled military attaches that it would be the countries that facilitated US missile systems, and not the US itself, which would become targets in the event of a Russian response.

Romania and Poland – here’s looking at you.

Just 60 days to go. With continued intransigence and the limited lead-time that short and intermediate-range missiles provide, the world thereafter and Europe especially could become a considerably more dangerous place.

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