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?

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