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.

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