29 December 2021

2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Crosstable & PGN

Looks like I jumped the gun on last week's post 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Wrapup, (December 2021). Before writing it I should have added the crosstable and PGN to the page, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi; Dubai, XI-XII, 2021 (m-w.com). Done and done.

Now I'll have to update the 'Wrapup' post to include this current post. At the same time I can add the most recent post on my main blog, A Trio of World Championship Video Makers (December 2021).

As for adding the Carlsen - Nepo match to the World Chess Championship : Index of Players, the 'Wrapup' post had a list of actions...

What to do tackle next on this blog? I have open actions from two series of posts started before the match.

...where one of them was to update the same 'Index of Players'. To be done (next year!)...

22 December 2021

2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Wrapup

With this post we bid farewell to the recent World Championship match, following a series of posts on this blog under the heading '2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi'.

Because I spent less time following the match than I did with previous matches, I had fewer posts on my main blog. I could find only three.

Given GM Nepomniachtchi's performance, it's unlikely that we'll see him back for another match against Carlsen. This is a good time to document a series of posts from earlier this year, also on my main blog.

What to do tackle next on this blog? I have open actions from two series of posts started before the match.

It might have been premature to 'bid farewell' to the match. For example, I still haven't tackled the material in the 'Flood of Videos' post. Then there's the little matter mentioned in the 'Third Week' post -- World Champion Carlsen might decline to play any further matches unless the conditions suit him.

That stance, trying to dictate the rules for subsequent matches, follows a long tradition established by previous World Champions. Several of the pre-FIDE champions were guilty of arranging the cards in their favor. It continued with Botvinnik, the first FIDE champion, then later with Fischer and Kasparov. I thought this had been settled with Kasparov, who ultimately accepted that the title belongs to FIDE. The world federation, not the champion, sets the rules.

With Carlsen there is the additional complication that he has profited from branding his name through the 'Play Magnus' company, using it to acquire other companies involved in chess. I gave an outline in Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, Chess24 (November 2021). Now he has shareholders who might not be so thrilled that he risks damaging his own brand.

Yesterday GM Carlsen expressed his position in writing: Dubai Expo FIDE World Championship Match (svw.no; 'Written by Magnus Carlsen').

I have by now played against the previous generation and three leading players of my generation. Being result-oriented has worked out for me in these matches, but it doesn’t feel sustainable long term. Passion must be the main driver. It is unlikely that I will play another match unless maybe if the next challenger represents the next generation.

Will the next title match be held in 2022 or 2023? The FIDE calendar (fide.com) currently lists 'FIDE Candidates Tournament 2022', without being more specific, and has no entry for the next World Championship. Whatever happens, there promises to be plenty of drama for Magnus Carlsen's many fans.

15 December 2021

2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the Third Week

I started and finished last week's post 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the Second Week (December 2021), with:-
It ain't over 'til it's over, but it's over. The score is now +3-0=6 with five games to be played. [...] If one of the top American chess journalists [the New York Times' former chess columnist Dylan Loeb McClain] thought the match 'may have been decided already' after two wins for Carlsen, what can we say after three wins? It's over...

*It*, being the 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi match in Dubai (m-w.com), continued for another two games : a draw and a win for Carlsen with the Black pieces. A score of +4-0=7 with three games left to be played was the most convincing, crushing victory in World Champion Carlsen's five title matches. Continuing with the 'Second Week' post, let's reference the last official reports titled 'FIDE World Championship 2021' from Fide.com:-

Let's also not overlook the last Youtube videos in the series 'FIDE World Championship Match - NBC Recap Game':-

Post-match, Carlsen dropped a bombshell piece of news. In an earlier post in this series, The First Week (December 2021), I referenced a couple of stories from Sean Ingle of The Guardian. His take on the latest news was Magnus Carlsen may opt against world chess defence due to lack of motivation (theguardian.com; December 2021), subtitled:-

Carlsen retained world championship title in Dubai • "It doesn’t mean as much any more as it once did" • Magnus Carlsen insists he has other priorities outside of the world championship.

What happens if Carlsen declines to play? The rules for the Dubai match, 'Regulations for the FIDE World Championship Match 2021', said,

2. Participation [...] 2.2. If the World Champion or the Challenger withdraws for any reason, he is replaced by the runner-up of the FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020.

Assuming that rule remains in effect, the participants in the next Candidates Tournament might be playing for *both* places in the subsequent World Championship match. The Guardian story mentioned,

The 31-year-old [Carlsen] said the only thing likely to persuade him to keep defending his title would be if his next opponent was the brilliant 18-year-old Alireza Firouzja, who recently broke Carlsen’s record as the youngest 2800-rated player and is now ranked world No 2.

Firouzja qualified for the Candidates event in last month's 2021 Grand Swiss (m-w.com) held in Riga. No one can accuse Carlsen of avoiding a tough challenge. Maybe he's just setting the stage for a nail-biting Candidates Tournament.

08 December 2021

2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the Second Week

It ain't over 'til it's over, but it's over -- the 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi in Dubai, that is. I started last week's post, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the First Week (December 2021), with an observation:-
The first four games of the match all ended in draws.

The fifth game was also a draw, then World Champion Magnus Carlsen won three of the next four games (g.6/8/9), conceding a single draw to the challenger, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. The score is now +3-0=6 with five games to be played. For the game-by-game action, let's turn again to press reports Fide.com, all under the heading 'FIDE World Championship Dubai 2021'.

And here are the latest Youtube videos titled 'FIDE World Championship Match - NBC Recap Game':-

On my main blog I've been running a monthly series on chess in the mainstream news, nicknamed 'Yahoos' (don't ask why). The most recent post in the series was World Championship Yahoos 2021 (November 2021). One of the angles I'll be watching for the next post, end-December, will be coverage of the Dubai World Championship. After the 2020-21 chess boom powered by the covid pandemic and Netflix, wa should see considerably more interest than for other recent matches.

In the meantime, curious about coverage of the match, I checked Google News to see what it considers the top stories on the match. Here's what I recorded as sources for the current top-10:-

  • 3 x chess.com
  • 3 x theguardian.com
  • 1 x nytimes.com
  • 1 x essentiallysports.com
  • 1 x chess24.com
  • 1 x chessbase.com

Because the top-10 news stories change constantly, the list is dynamic. The first source and the last two sources -- with 'chess' in their names -- would nevertheless figure on most lists. The second and third sources -- theguardian.com and nytimes.com -- have been covering world class chess for years. Only one source -- essentiallysports.com -- was not familiar to me; for more of its stories, see Latest Chess Updates | Essentially Sports.

The New York Times story, Did the World Chess Championship End When No One Was Looking?, by the NYT's former chess columnist Dylan Loeb McClain, started,

The world chess championship currently underway in Dubai is not over officially, but for all intents and purposes it may have been decided already. After a string of five draws to begin the championship, Magnus Carlsen, the reigning champion from Norway, has won two of the last three games, to take a lead of five points to three over his challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.

If one of the top American chess journalists thought the match 'may have been decided already' after two wins for Carlsen, what can we say after three wins? It's over...

01 December 2021

2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, the First Week

'The first four games of the match all ended in draws.' That's how I opened my report three years ago for 2018 Carlsen - Caruana, the First Week (November 2018), and it works just as well in 2021 as it did in 2018. I continued the 2018 report with a summary of the first week of previous World Chess Championship title matches.
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).

Let's add to that list 'twelve consecutive draws (2018)'. Yes, the most recent World Championship match, 2018 Carlsen - Caruana (London), had all 12 regulation games end in draws. I doubt that the current contest, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi (Dubai), will suffer the same fate, but with the players so evenly matched, who can say for sure?

In the previous post on the current match, 2021 Carlsen - Nepomniachtchi, Warmup (November 2021), I started keeping track of articles emanating from Fide.com. I'll continue that method of summarizing the events of the first week, all under the title 'FIDE World Championship Dubai 2021':-

On my main blog I posted a look at World Championship Social Media 2021 (November 2021). One of the highlights was a Youtube video from the FIDE chess channel under the title 'FIDE World Championship Match - NBC Recap Game'. Here are links to the first three games covered by NBC:-

There's much more non-NBC video material available on the 'FIDE chess' channel. For more info on the source of those three listed videos, NBC Sports, see that post, 'WCC Social Media 2021'. Another post on my main blog, World Championship Yahoos 2021 (November 2021), introduced another mainstream resource, The Guardian:-

That last story, by 'Sean Ingle in Dubai', looks like continuing coverage of the Carlsen - Nepo match. In each of the last few World Championship matches, I've discovered at least one professional, non-chess journalist who provided an outsider's view of the match. Will the Guardian continue the trend?

I learned from the writer's page, Sean Ingle | The Guardian, that he 'is the Guardian's chief sports reporter', which means he probably doesn't have the time to cover a niche match that lasts three weeks. While I fully expect the highly respected Guardian to provide continuing coverage, it might be from their other writers, like the legendary Leonard Barden. Here are two of Sean Ingle's pre-match reports:-

It's curious that the address of that first story, 'Inside the Mind', uses a different headline than that which appears on its page. Was there a problem with the original? -- 'Magnus Carlsen: The big advantage is that I am the better chess player'. It's unusual to get that sort of edgy reporting from professional chess journalists, but it makes for interesting stories.