28 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the Third Week

Another week in the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana World Championship match, another four games, another four draws. After twelve regulation games, twelve draws, the two players tied at 6.0 points each : the match moves to tiebreak.

Continuing with the same mainstream media source seen in the previous post, 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the Second Week, here is a graphic overview of the entire match. The credit for the evaluation of individual games goes to Stockfish.

fivethirtyeight.com (538.com)

While the squiggles might show an overall advantage for Black during the first six games, the trend reversed course for the last six games, when White retook its traditional advantage. Here are the reports from 538.com for games 9 through 12:-

Later today a series of tiebreak games will decide who will be the World Champion for the next two years. Opening preparation has played an important role in the first twelve games, played at slow time control. What role will it play in the faster tiebreak games? Last year, on my chess960 blog, I quoted GM Caruana in a post titled Caruana on Chess960 (April 2017). In response to the question, 'What about Chess960?', he said, 'Maybe preparation plays a big role in classical chess, but in blitz and rapid it doesn’t play much of a role at all.' In a few hours, in the tiebreak, we'll get some clues about whether he was right.


Later: Magnus Carlsen won a World Championship match for the fourth consecutive time. After 12 consecutive draws in the regulation games at a slow time control, he won three consecutive tiebreak games at rapid time control. Here is the final report from the same mainstream news source I've used in the previous posts on the match.

And once again, from the same source I've been relying on throughout the match, here is a squiggle chart showing the progress of each of the three tiebreak games.

fivethirtyeight.com (538.com)

For sure, there will be discussions and even arguments about the fairness of the tiebreak system used in the match. Will that system be changed? We'll find out in the next World Championship match, currently scheduled for the year 2020.

21 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the Second Week

Last week's summary of the World Championship match currently underway in London, 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the First Week, started with:-
The first four games of the match all ended in draws.

It ended with:-

By this time next week, another four games will have been played.

This week's summary could start with:-

The next four games of the match all ended in draws.

Eight games and eight draws -- is this unprecedented? No, because the 1995 Kasparov - Anand PCA Title Match, also started with eight draws. GM Anand won the ninth game, but World Champion Kasparov came roaring back with four wins in the next five games.

Back to the 2018 match, last week on my main blog I identified a new resource for mainstream reporting on top level chess events: Chess @ 538.com. I wrote, 'A unique feature of the reports is a graphic overview of the match so far.' Here is a similar graphic for the match status after eight games. Note that after game six the players switched assignment of the White pieces for the remaining games.

fivethirtyeight.com (538.com)

The squiggles tell the story behind each game. In week two Caruana held an enduring advantage in three of the four games, where he had excellent chances to score a win in game six and good chances in game eight. Game seven, the only game where Carlsen held an advantage, tracked game four. For a more detailed analysis, see the week two game reports from 538.com:-

That somewhat snarky headline for game six, 'Chess World Rattled As Someone Nearly Wins Game', was echoed by many other reports coming out of London (and elsewhere). In FIDE WCCM Game 8: Dubious Record Tied (fide.com), the ultimate responsible for the match declared,

With a draw on Monday in Game 8 of the World Championship match in London, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana equaled the record for the most consecutive draws to start a title contest. In 1995, Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand also drew the first eight games of their title match in New York City.

Is this the first time that FIDE has admitted that the rival 1995 PCA match was a legitimate match for the World Championship? Twenty three years after the fact, 'misery loves company'.

By this time next week, the last four regulation games will have been played and the match might be in tiebreak. We are guaranteed to have at least three more regulation games and will have four unless one of the players is leading by two games after game eleven. Who said draws are boring?

14 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the First Week

Every time the World Championship hits the global village, the hubbub is even louder than it was for the previous event. It's impossible to keep up with all developments, so I'll just note some of the highlights and set some pointers to find more.

The first four games of the match all ended in draws. Of the seven most recent matches, all with 12 games at standard time control, the first three (2006, 2008, 2010) saw the eventual winner jump into the lead after four games. The last four saw a tied score after four games, where only one (2014) had decisive games. The other three matches started with six consecutive draws (2012), four draws (2013), and seven draws (2016). In the 2018 match, Carlsen achieved a near-decisive advantage playing Black in game one, after which the other games were more balanced.

So far I've collected relevant links into four posts scattered across two blogs:-

Since that last post from a few days ago, Worldchess has released more videos. This one gives some idea about the physical atmosphere at the match itself.

World Chess Championship 2018 Venue Introduction (2:26) • 'Published on Nov 12, 2018'

The description says,

Anna Rudolph, hosting the World Chess Championship 2018 in London, presents the playing venue along with exclusive highlights from day one!

For additional background from people who are geographically closer to the match than most of us, see 2018 World Championship in London (ecforum.org.uk). Although the thread started in May 2017, skipping ahead to page 10 (out of 20 currently) brings us to end-October 2018, when Agon started once again to threaten competing broadcasters. Following that are first-hand reports from chess fans who have visited the match venue, mixed with many relevant links (including frequent Twitter spats).

Today is a rest day. By this time next week, another four games will have been played.

07 November 2018

2018 Carlsen - Caruana, Warmup

With the 2018 Carlsen - Caruana title match due to start in two days, the entire chess world turns its attention to London. First, here's a summary of pre-match posts on this blog:-

Add to these a couple of posts from my main blog:-

I expected more in pre-match publicity from FIDE / Agon / Worldchess. I should know better than to expect more, but we can always dream. The most comprehensive writeup to date appeared a couple of days ago from another source -- The Couch Potato’s Guide to the 2018 World Chess Championship (uschess.org) by GM Ian Rogers -- and even mentioned my own resources:-

Mark Weeks’ long-running World Championship site and blog cover both history and less well known World Championship news.

How long-running has the coverage been on this blog? Here's a summary of wrapup posts for past title events:-

I haven't noticed much Carlsen - Caruana reporting from the non-chess press and hope I get some material for the next post in the Yahoo series. The most interesting report so far is Marky’s Malarkey: Betting On the World Chess Championship (actionnetwork.com; 'Marky takes a deep look into the world of chess to find out where the value lies.'). I'm not a gambler and Marky’s Malarkey is full of jargon that leaves me baffled: 'prop bet', 'shop for the best line', 'both a Pinnacle and Bovada account', etc. etc.

More in my comfort zone is a countdown series by Chess.com's Mike Klein: The 10 Most Exciting World Chess Championships Ever (started end-October 2018). Here's his list to date.

No.1 on the list is a no-brainer, 1972 Fischer - Spassky, but what about no.2? I'll put my money on 1987 Kasparov - Karpov. The match was tied going into the next-but-last game, the 23nd, which Karpov won thanks to a blunder by his opponent. Needing a win to keep his title, Kasparov presented a classic example of how to handle a clutch game. As I wrote on my highlights page for the match, 1987 Kasparov - Karpov : Highlights,

A few moves into the resumption, Karpov played an inaccurate move and resigned on his 64th move. Thus are the greatest world chess championship matches decided -- two months of mental combat turn on a single move. Since the match ended in a 12-12 draw, Kasparov retained the title for another three years.

In 2018, tied title matches are decided by rapid and blitz tiebreak games. That raises the excitement by several more notches.