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.

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