27 November 2013

Anand - Carlsen, the Third Week

The big match is over -- all over but the shouting, as they say, and I expect the shouting will continue for some time as the chess world adjusts to a generational shift. Magnus Carlsen's victory over Vishy Anand is the most important title match result since Kramnik beat Kasparov in 2000, which was the most important result since Kasparov beat Karpov in 1985, which was the most important result since Fischer beat Spassky in 1972, and so it goes in the history of the World Chess Championship, one generation supplanting and building on the previous.

My previous report, Anand - Carlsen, the Second Week, left off with the score +2-0=6 in Carlsen's favor, the Norwegian needing 1.5 points to win the match. Since that report, the benchmark Google News search on 'anand carlsen' has shrunk from 'about 82,800 results' to 'about 56,900 results', the first decline since I started tracking it the day before the opening ceremony. As the entire chess world knows by now, Carlsen gained the required 1.5 points in the next two games after that report.

The post-match analysis began immediately. Much of it involved soul-searching from Indian sources. How could one of their favorite sons have been beaten so badly?

The closing ceremony, despite the rich rewards not often seen in chess, was almost anti-climactic.

What happens now? The next championship cycle continues with a Candidates tournament and a World Championship match in 2014. There is some speculation whether Anand will participate in the cycle, but I expect that he will play. His play will be different, because he no longer carries the weight of the title on his shoulders, but he has always been a fighter and the next fight is waiting to be fought.

Carlsen will continue to dazzle for many years. He is young and his personality will continue to evolve. How will he adjust to the even bigger spotlight? This is, after all, a generational shift, and no one can say for sure what it will bring.

20 November 2013

Anand - Carlsen, the Second Week

We left off last week's post, Anand - Carlsen, the First Week, with game four just having finished in a thrilling draw. Since then, a Google News search on 'anand carlsen' has swelled from 'about 73,300 results' to 'about 82,800 results'. Let's first look at reports from Indian news sources for the five games played during the past week.

With wins for Carlsen in games five and six, it was a great week for the Norwegian grandmaster and a terrible week for Anand. Here are a few background stories that appeared during the week.

One of my personal discoveries during the week was the work of Jaideep Unudurti, writing for the Economic Times. I somehow overlooked his work until now and intend to review his previous articles when I find the time. In the meantime, here are two of his articles from this past week.

With four games to go, Carlsen leads 2-0. Will Anand manage to pull off a miracle? With the odds heavily stacked against that, will he manage to win at least one game? As long as I'm covering Indian sources, let's go back a few months to an interview with Anand that was published just after Carlsen won the London Candidates tournament.

Q: How different will [the Carlsen match] be from your previous WCC matches? • A: Firstly, he is not from my generation. There is a difference in age and outlook. When I played Kramnik, Topalov and Gelfand, I read them in a certain way. And even then, I thought that if I end up playing Vlady this time, it would be a different Vlady from the one I played before. He (Carlsen) is from a different generation and Carlsen is also one of the most talented players from any generation. He will be ridiculously difficult to play against, yeah.

Next week's post might well be the last for this match. I hope you're enjoying the show as much as I am.

13 November 2013

Anand - Carlsen, the First Week

My previous post, Anand - Carlsen, One Day to Go, was a summary of news stories on *the match*, mainly from Indian news sources. A week later, the 'about 12,700 results' given by a Google News search on 'anand carlsen' has mushroomed to 'about 73,300 results'. Let's make another summary of news from the past week. Here are some pre-match reports.

As I write this, our two heroes have just drawn the fourth game, making four draws in four games, or +0-0=4 in W-L-D parlance. The first two games were short draws that ended in repetition, while the next two had considerable content. Somewhat surprisingly, all four games tipped in Black's favor.

The week's prize for bonehead chess reporting goes to a source I can't remember seeing before. The first story ignores the impact of an Anand victory on a nation of Indians. The second story needs to review the definition of 'disastrous'. What can you say about a news source whose current top featured article is 'Here's What It Takes To Work At Hooters'?

Considerably better, and another source I hadn't seen before, was the source I used for game two above.

Also worth noting is the source for game three above.

Where's game four? It should be in next week's news.

06 November 2013

Anand - Carlsen, One Day to Go

The opening ceremony of the long awaited World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen takes place tomorrow and media interest in chess is at a level not seen since Bobby Fischer died almost six years ago. On my main blog, a post on Anand - Carlsen Openings received more views after a few hours than most posts get over their entire lives.

The previous post on this blog, Anand - Carlsen Resources, offers a good metric in a Google News search on 'anand carlsen', currently showing 'About 12,700 results'. Many of those results are from Indian news sources, what you might expect from a country with a population of over a billion people celebrating a national hero.

It's impossible to keep up with that volume of reporting, but here are a few articles that caught my attention in the week running up to the start of the match.

Another article,

caught my eye not only for its many comments, but also for its 'Infographic', embedded below. (Note to myself: find out how to make one of these.)

Will Anand's opening gambit checkmate Carlsen?

In every parade there's someone standing on the side complaining about it, and chess makes a particularly easy target.

Why shouldn’t he be the World Champion?

The problem with the title of world champion is that it’s too crude a measurement of chess skill in an era of instantly updated ratings, and you get embarrassing, confusing situations where the player who is clearly the best isn’t labeled as such. Having a world champion makes sense in boxing, where infrequent matches make comparing fighters a tricky proposition. But in chess, as in tennis, the world’s two best players will meet head-to-head as many as four or five times in a year.

Tennis doesn’t have a world champion, and rightly so. That sport measures greatness by elevating four tournaments (the grand slams) above all others and assessing a player’s results there. Peaks and valleys are measured by a ratings algorithm that’s updated from week to week.

The author, who 'blogs about crossword puzzles', can go back to his word games. The rest of us will enjoy the ultimate test of chess skill that transcends 'instantly updated ratings' and the one-off 'head-to-head' meetings that prove nothing beyond who was in better form that day.