Attention Chess Nerds!
November 8, 2018 1:55 PM   Subscribe

You, yes, YOU! The World Chess Championship begins tomorrow, the 9th of November, pitting Norway's Magnus Carlsen against the U.S.'s (or Italy's) native son Fabiano Caruana. Like the last time, we're going to discuss it here.

The format is 12 classic matches over the month of November, with a rest day every third day.

There is an official FIDE site, with a PPV option.

There are also places like Today in Chess and Chess24 that were popular last time for their expert commentary.

Magnus Carlsen is in the running for GOAT status. There's even a netflix documentary about him. He's charismatic and popular.

Caruana is just a normal guy.

These players, ranked 1 and 2 in the world, have nearly identical Elo scores making this matchup a true fight for the pinnacle of the chess world.

Mark this post as the place to be to discuss the matches all month long.
posted by OHenryPacey (165 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Super hype. Carlson v Karjakin was fantastic last year, and I'm stoked there's an American in play this time.

Enjoyed Peter Svidler's commentary last year and looks like he's doing it again this time for Chess24. Highly recommend anyone who wants the commentary to tune in.
posted by Room 101 at 2:01 PM on November 8


As always, I stop and reflect in awe and horror at the food chain of chess. I think back on the horrifying defeats I have suffered every time I played a 2200 rated National Master, reflect that top GMs like Svidler regularly destroy the guys who routinely beat those players, and then that he's an also-ran at the World Championship level.
posted by thelonius at 2:08 PM on November 8 [7 favorites]


If this is going to be an ongoing thread perhaps it's worth fixing Carlson -> Carlsen.
posted by value of information at 2:08 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


This might be fun! My boys have gotten into chess, and maybe showing them some of the best players in the world will help (it may even help my game, so I can keep beating them).
posted by nubs at 2:09 PM on November 8


There are also places like Today in Chess and Chess24 that were popular last time for their expert commentary.


Also notable: St. Louis Chess Club.

Since last time, the popularity of streaming chess on sites like Twitch has taken off, and there will be a lot of channels there covering the games. Ben Finegold, for example.
posted by thelonius at 2:17 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


I predict a Carlsen win by two falls and a submission.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:25 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I watch these matches thinking, "I wouldn't have thought to do that. Why did he make that move?" Three moves later: "OH HOLY SHIT! I am bad at chess."
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:26 PM on November 8 [8 favorites]


[Carlsenized!]
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on November 8 [11 favorites]


I'd be watching this live if I could take the next two weeks off from my life, but barring that -- any recommendations for where to watch digested versions of the games after the fact with in-depth analysis and most importantly, no spoilers?
posted by zeri at 2:41 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


This seems as good a place as any to say, if any of you know the name of the Kangaroo song in the Magnus Carlsen documentary, please let me know so I can download it and put myself out of my misery.
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 2:48 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Zeri, the PowerPlayChess YT channel will have daily game analysis that is suitable for amateur players.
posted by bigZLiLk at 3:30 PM on November 8 [7 favorites]


I see the prize money will be split 60 / 40. Egos in chess are huge anyway, so I have no doubt both players will play to win, but I'm surprised it's not more lopsided. And if the match goes to tiebreaks, it's 55 / 45!
posted by dbx at 4:08 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Also worth listing the official stream, which is supposed to feature analysis by Judit Polgár.

A lot of people who know chess seem to be most excited about the chess24 commentary team. Gustafsson and Svidler are popular and they're going to have some other world-class players on.

I am also a fan of Ben Finegold, as mentioned upthread. He frequently teaches kids and is certainly capable of explaining things to a layperson. I don't know what level his commentary will be targeted at in this case but it will certainly be leavened with his usual endless series of corny jokes.
posted by atoxyl at 4:09 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Since Gustafsson was brought up, here is Magnus surreptitiously playing him online (under a different account, yes, it's probably against the rules etc., etc.) in a blitz game.
Kind of goes to show how Magnus is just on another level altogether.
I never get tired of watching this.
posted by starman at 4:24 PM on November 8 [4 favorites]


Kind of goes to show how Magnus is just on another level altogether.

Poor Gustaffson seemed to sense that there was something wrong with winning the e4 pawn, but could not calculate it and felt honor-bound to go for it. After which he was disassembled completely.
posted by thelonius at 4:48 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I've become a fan of Agadmator's Chess Channel over on the youtubes. I enjoy the fact that he'll review games with "So, what is the idea here?" and play out a few variations from a position explaining what's going on. He does a good job of making high-level chess very accessible.

He's recently reviewed a 2012 game between these two if you'd like a sense of how he presents.
posted by mhoye at 7:00 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


I got buried in a chess rabbit hole a few months back and while I know only slightly more than shit about chess, I really liked this guy who is very mellow and also does the "running down the options" thing.
posted by rhizome at 7:51 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


I really liked this guy who is very mellow and also does the "running down the options" thing.

Yep, Jerry should be firing up his Twitch in less than an hour. My go-to for live coverage.
posted by starman at 6:09 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


From the 538 article:
Basketball, for example, is also incredibly complex yet readily enjoyable without context. The real reason is aesthetic. I can tell — immediately and innately — when LeBron James does something rare and amazing on the basketball court. I can tell simply because I’m a human being. I cannot tell — immediately or innately — when Caruana does something rare and amazing on a chessboard. Often, I cannot even tell when I’m supposed to be able to tell this. Neither, in many cases, can grandmaster match commentators, hired to shed light for us patzers. Caruana and Carlsen breathe such rarefied air that no one, except themselves and maybe five other humans, can truly appreciate what they do.
That about sums it up for me.
posted by clawsoon at 8:54 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


It's been a very interesting first game so far. Far more active than these things usually are.

Lebron is fun to watch because he's better than the other people on the court. That's what you'll see in the Gustaffson video linked above; it's fun to watch because Carlsen is obviously the better player, even though both players are quite good.

Watching Lebron One-on-one with 90s Jordan? That would be incomprehensible to me. Why did Lebron pull up short for a tough fadeaway? Why did Jordan's crossover work there but not last time? I'd want an expert to help me understand what's happening. I don't think Chess is so different.
posted by dbx at 9:08 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


Another factor that has made following top-level play more accessible is powerful chess engines, although you cn argue that they have made commentary worse (ie, presenters just checking Stockfish and telling you what it says).

You can even run them in the browser now, thanks to some CS fanatics who developed a tool that translates C++ to Javascript. Of course that is far from an ideal platform, but it's pretty useful to try out an idea and find out why it would fail.
posted by thelonius at 9:25 AM on November 9


Caruana and Carlsen breathe such rarefied air that no one, except themselves and maybe five other humans, can truly appreciate what they do.

I think a lot about the The "Move 37" moment in the Go match between Le Sedol and AlphaGo. There might be two other people in the world who understood what just happened, much less be able to explain it, but Sedol is staring at the board so shocked that that he eventually has to step away to gather himself.
posted by mhoye at 10:12 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


All that gushing about how empyrean these players are, and they sure made a lot of mistakes in the time scramble.
posted by thelonius at 11:19 AM on November 9


What's our preferred live commentary? I'm on Chess 24 and it's decent, but their remote setup is leading to a bit too much overtalk for me.
posted by Think_Long at 11:27 AM on November 9


St. Louis Chess Club had Kasparov as a guest! People in the chat are unhappy that they don't show the current board position while they are analyszing though.

I watched Finegold during the time trouble part of the game and he seemed like he was really happy to be there, and he provided some pretty clear analysis.
posted by thelonius at 11:37 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


I'm no expert, but it seems like they're fighting this first game to the bitter end. I'm sure it was an hour ago that the ChessNetwork Twitch stream commentator said he was pretty sure somebody was going to resign any time now. But now we're down to a king, a rook, and two or three pawns on each side.
posted by clawsoon at 1:20 PM on November 9


What's our preferred live commentary? I'm on Chess 24 and it's decent, but their remote setup is leading to a bit too much overtalk for me.
chess24 without question for me. Svidler is perhaps the best live commentator in the world, and at least for this game he's been joined by Grischuk, always a great source of deadpan humor in addition to being a top-10 player himself. For viewers with less chess expertise the St Louis broadcast is probably better; they tend to pitch their analysis a little lower and explain concepts at a more basic level.
posted by dfan at 1:34 PM on November 9


I'm no expert, but it seems like they're fighting this first game to the bitter end. I'm sure it was an hour ago that the ChessNetwork Twitch stream commentator said he was pretty sure somebody was going to resign any time now.

Aaand - draw. Which is what's been predicted for a while now but indeed they wanted to grind it out first.

The first game was more exciting than this makes it sound, though. I tuned in when Caruana had a minute per move and Carlsen's queen was on the back rank and whew. Most commentary I've heard seems to put it on Magnus that he lost his momentum there.
posted by atoxyl at 2:38 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


I was in and out of Jerry's stream and at one point Magnus was approaching a 1.5 pawn advantage as black, which is super impressive. But the position was so complex I don't think anyone can blame him for losing momentum. Easy for a computer, not so easy for a human after 4, 5, 6 hours of play.
posted by starman at 3:56 PM on November 9


I was busy today and all over the place trying to follow, but I was in front of my screen during the critical time before move 40 when Caruana was in time trouble and it seemed that Magnus was perhaps playing a bit to pressure Fabi on time rather than with his pieces, and that perhaps cost him the win.

Caruana might have been in big trouble had he lost game 1 playing white, so he gets a slight moral victory with the draw.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:57 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Chess.com is streaming the games live with commentary by IM Danny Rensch and GM Robert Hess. https://www.chess.com/tv Follow up lecture by GM Yermolinsky.
posted by notmtwain at 4:34 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]




I was in and out of Jerry's stream and at one point Magnus was approaching a 1.5 pawn advantage as black, which is super impressive. But the position was so complex I don't think anyone can blame him for losing momentum. Easy for a computer, not so easy for a human after 4, 5, 6 hours of play.

It was much more than that at the critical moment. As you say, though, it is easy to sit at home with your computer, saying, those idiots, they missed this win!
posted by thelonius at 5:46 PM on November 9




The Harrelson Blunder | Caruana vs Carlsen 2018. | Game 1 - agadmator's Chess Channel
posted by flabdablet at 3:06 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Second game draws so efficiently that nobody here even notices that it started!

Okay, I didn't really have a chance to follow it either. Chess24 was down Svidler - he's playing in a tournament in Germany I think - and Grischuk and Guramishvili seemed to be running out of stuff to say by the time I got there. I think the clearest narrative that's emerged for this game is that Caruana out-prepared Carlsen, going into unexpected territory in the opening and getting ahead on time - remember that at this level holding a draw with black is generally considered a positive outcome.
posted by atoxyl at 11:51 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Interesting that black has had initiative in each of the first 2 games, Fabi didn't seem nearly as close to pulling out a win today as Magnus did in game 1, but it bodes well, imo.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:57 PM on November 10


When they quickly (at least by yesterday's standard) ended up in a rooks and pawns endgame, Caruana went along with a development that led to him offering a draw fairly quickly, even though at some points Stockfish seemed to think there was still a path to victory. I wonder if Magnus' willingness to really grind it out will be the decisive factor in this match.

There was a point during NRK's live broadcast of the game (I think it was move 10) where Magnus reacts to Fabiano's move by sitting back and staring intently at him. In the press conference he explained that this was him realizing that he was still playing against a memorized set of computer suggested moves, and that this one in particular was unfamiliar to him and potentially brilliant for his opponent. "What was your reaction?" a reporter asked.

"Oh shit."
posted by Dumsnill at 2:17 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it was 10... Rd8. I don't know enough to explain the implications other than that it was fairly novel.
posted by atoxyl at 2:29 PM on November 10


Carlsen-Caruana Game 2 Analysis from Chess24
posted by flabdablet at 8:01 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


realizing that he was still playing against a memorized set of computer suggested moves

Well, computer checked, not necessarily suggested.
posted by thelonius at 8:33 PM on November 10




Well, computer checked, not necessarily suggested.

It does seem like the kind of question you could usefully put to a computer, though: Find the sequence of moves which forces the biggest advantage but which has been least explored in recorded games between top-level human players.
posted by clawsoon at 5:36 AM on November 11


But the problem is that computer evaluations in the opening aren't terribly reliable. The fact that an engine sees one move as .1 or .2 better, at that stage, isn't something that a player in this kind of match would take as a received fact. I think opening research is still mostly guided by humans; the computer refutes ideas and deepens that research, but they aren't particularly strong in the opening. Perhaps the neural net approach from Alpha Zero and Leela will change that eventually.

They have changed the evaluation of a lot of lines, especially in showing that positions that people had thought bad were in fact defensible. And there have been new moves purely found by engines, especially in sharp openings like Sicilian Najdorfs. But since everyone has a computer, players don't hoard up a novelty for an important game like they used to . Marshall waited for years to spring his pawn sacrifice in the Ruy Lopez on Capablanca. Now, if a GM finds a novelty, he plays it right away, assuming that someone else is also about to find it and it will quickly become known theory.

It does seem like the kind of question you could usefully put to a computer, though: Find the sequence of moves which forces the biggest advantage but which has been least explored in recorded games between top-level human players.

I'd expect that searching for novelties that a chess engine doesn't initially think are that great is probably more important, for a match like this.

It's interesting that Carlsen's play has been often characterized by stepping away from this arms race, not seeking an advantage in the opening, and trusting in his ability to outplay people in equal positions.
posted by thelonius at 6:20 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


Example: if you look at the Stockfish 9 analysis, which says "CLOUD", so I don't think it's running just in my browser, for game 2, at their match site, it evaluates 10....Rd8 as .5 for White, and wants to play instead 10...Be7, which it evaluates only at .2. But Carlsen was clearly quite concerned by 10...Rd8, which Stockfish first thinks is a mistake.

I also see there were a few database games with that move, so it was not absolutely new. Carlsen continued differently than White did in those games, so perhaps the real computer novelty, if there was one, was in that line that did not get played. That is one of the things that makes it hard to understand top level chess, as discussed above; a lot of the game doesn't appear on the board.
posted by thelonius at 6:45 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


at their match site

at Lichess, I meant
posted by thelonius at 8:17 AM on November 11


I suspect they allocate more power to their computer analysis when checking moves than the lichess post-game analysis does but that's not really in contradiction to what you're describing. Finding high evaluations in the opening that nobody knows about... probably isn't much of a thing, because everybody has a computer. Finding pretty equal moves that are underplayed and learning the best lines that follow might give you the upper hand if your opponent hasn't. See Magnus' expression when he realizes he didn't even think about that move.
posted by atoxyl at 8:41 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


An analysis of the second game by Simon 'Ginger GM' Williams. As a beginner, I really like his description of the opening choices and the thinking around 10... Rd8.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 9:38 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


“Game 2”—ChessNetwork

Jerry also posted a playlist for ChessNetwork game recaps, so you can catch all his analysis there.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:23 PM on November 11


Another day another draw. I'm mostly posting just to keep this thread in everyone's recent activity queue, but the commentaries still seems to heavily favor Magnus. I think the pros mostly like the way he plays as much as his actual rank and win probabilities.
posted by Think_Long at 4:15 PM on November 12


Knight's Bar | Caruana vs Carlsen 2018. | Game 3 - agadmator (playlist)
posted by flabdablet at 8:07 PM on November 12


the commentaries still seems to heavily favor Magnus. I think the pros mostly like the way he plays as much as his actual rank and win probabilities.

Going into the match a lot of chess people seemed to put their current skill level at classical time control very very close (as Elo would also suggest). Carlsen seems a little past the peak of his dominance and Caruana has been on the rise this year. The factor that puts Carlsen ahead still is that tiebreaks go to increasingly rapid games, and his record is significantly stronger than Caruana's in fast chess. And since there hasn't been a game yet where Caruana has been able to take a really commanding position, it certainly feels like it could come down to that - though obviously it's a little early to call anything.
posted by atoxyl at 8:50 PM on November 12


Either this game is more interesting or the ChessNetwork guy remembered to have coffee this morning.
posted by clawsoon at 9:20 AM on November 13


"Sometimes bad bishops defend very good pawns." Sounds like a metaphor.
posted by clawsoon at 9:39 AM on November 13


That seemed a bit early. Hard to believe both players weren't willing to try to make something out of that position.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:42 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


That seemed a bit early. Hard to believe both players weren't willing to try to make something out of that position.

Maybe they can see that it is one of those endgames where the person who tries to win it will lose, but, yeah.
posted by thelonius at 10:34 AM on November 13


That [Game 4] seemed a bit early. Hard to believe both players weren't willing to try to make something out of that position.

Yeah, that was quite a contrast to the end of Game 1, where Carlsen kept on playing long after the game appeared (to this patzer) to be a clear draw.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:36 AM on November 13




Something I learned about from the latest agadmator video (thanks, flabdablet): If the regular games are all drawn, and the speed and blitz games are all drawn, it goes to something called an Armageddon tiebreaker.
posted by clawsoon at 4:38 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


I also am liking the video links; I can't quite think to check on this every day it seems. My SO asked me what happens if they keep drawing and I couldn't find out, now I know it goes to speed chess variants. Armageddon sounds terrible though.

These games seem to be just about errors...? Is it different now, where the champions play surrounded by experts all chatting live and their computers, there can never be a flash of brilliance, the best you can do is NOT fail to see the line that a whole lot of experts and computers are seeing? Or you just fail the prep, you lost a random guessing game and can't really be blamed. I think one of the videos linked about said the masters used to save up secret innovations to spring them on each other, but now people play innovations immediately because things are so level at the top and everyone can see almost everything and so someone else must be on the cusp of making that discovery too anyway..
posted by fleacircus at 5:56 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Back in the day, they just used to keep playing draws.
posted by thelonius at 6:05 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


These games seem to be just about errors...?

Well that's pretty much what chess is.

now people play innovations immediately because things are so level at the top and everyone can see almost everything and so someone else must be on the cusp of making that discovery too anyway..

If you're thinking of my above comment, I was paraphrasing (iirc) GM John Nunn saying that
posted by thelonius at 6:07 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


lol yes I must have been referring to that; sorry it's been a flakey few days
posted by fleacircus at 7:17 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


These games seem to be just about errors...?

"The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake." - Savielly Tartakower

Armageddon sounds terrible though.

I doubt that it would ever come to that - for all the draws at classical time controls, blitz is a whole different ballgame (to your other point, errors are much more likely), and five two-game blitz matches all ending 1-1 seems incredibly unlikely. But you ultimately have to have something decisive, and that's better than the old-school "defending champion retains title in case of a drawn match" provision.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:42 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


These games seem to be just about errors...? Is it different now, where the champions play surrounded by experts all chatting live and their computers, there can never be a flash of brilliance, the best you can do is NOT fail to see the line that a whole lot of experts and computers are seeing?

If this is a question about whether high-level chess is more even/drawish than it used to be - probably marginally so but it's not new, either. In the 1984 World Championship between Kasparov and Karpov the victory condition was first to 6 wins - and they played 48 games without reaching it before the organizers cut the match short.

If it's a question about the way chess is understood and framed, then yes, computers have definitely shifted commentary toward "will he see it?" and away from "how did he come up with that?"
posted by atoxyl at 10:21 PM on November 13


Oh I see thelonius' link goes to the same Karpov-Kasparov story
posted by atoxyl at 10:23 PM on November 13


Yes it was a question about how chess has changed and I didn't mean to spark a slew of kinda facile statements about errors that can apply to almost any game tbh.
posted by fleacircus at 6:47 AM on November 14


Oliver Roeder, FiveThirtyEight: The Biggest Blunder Of The World Chess Championship Is A Deleted YouTube Video. (And, yes, it’s still tied.)

The headline refers to a video from the Saint Louis Chess Club, by coincidence linked from this very thread (unless there's more than one video they deleted). I don't think anyone here noticed or discussed this, but apparently it inadvertently captured some non-trivial information on Caruana's computer screen -- preparatory notes.

When asked about it, he had no comment but seemed legitimately flustered (in my opinion unlikely it was some kind of disinfo op, as some are supposing). I can't find the video of this interview, but Carlsen joked that he'll have to take a look, which I interpret as sarcasm and that he'll be honorable (though it's hard to imagine absolutely none of the information making it to him one way or another).

That article is also a good summary of where things stand so far. This match has been on the front pages of web news sports sections in a way I don't recall before (but I never paid attention to past years; my recent interest was actually sparked by a local production of the musical Chess).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:49 AM on November 14


Chess is so often used as a metaphor for the tactics used in any conflict that I sometimes have to stop and remember that a chess match is indeed a chess match, and probably not just a series of games of chess.
Magnus certainly has a psychological edge, as he's the undisputed champ and has been for a while.

I wonder then what types of maneuvering Caruana has prepared to eke out victories while they are still playing classical games (since Carlsen is favored by a wide margin in blitz).

He's obviously not swinging wildly with innovative openings; he's not (like Karjakin, iirc) planning on winning purely by frustrating Carlsen with an immovable defense.

So when, and how, does he take off the gloves and start swinging? it's on him, pretty clearly, to win the championship from Magnus. So he must, surely, have a strategy that is unfolding as the games progress....

has anyone read or heard some analysis that would indicate what it might be?
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:44 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


The short matches of recent years, I think, promote a strategy of excessive caution. If you go down a game, then you have to win just to hope to be able to go into the tiebreaks, and your opponent can play as solidly as they can, taking no risks. That's one thing when you are going to play 25 or 30 or even more games, and quite another when you will only play 12. Since chess (in my opinion*) is basically a draw, you normally have to take some risks to win, and it's safer not to do that too much. Then come the rapid, blitz, and armmgeddon games, where mistakes really will decide all.

The conventional wisdom is that Carlsen is stronger in rapid and blitz. So Caruana is perhaps going to try to turn up the heat and win in the second part of the match.

*And not just mine - I remember seeing Kasparov once saying to some journalists pestering him about not winning, "Look, chess is a draw"
posted by thelonius at 11:36 AM on November 14


Deadspin has a nice (and exciting!) recap of the match so far.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:28 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


Early in game 5! Svidler and Guramishvili like Caruana's position.
posted by thelonius at 7:25 AM on November 15


Is this the place to complain about the fit of chess club blazers? They just . . . don't look great
posted by Think_Long at 7:59 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


Pretty exciting game 5. lots of early action. live analysis seemed to think both players had chances for a win.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:25 AM on November 15


That was another fairly interesting draw.
posted by atoxyl at 10:32 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


so was the pawn b4 opening brilliant or foolhardy? Excited to read how it's interpreted.
posted by Think_Long at 1:54 PM on November 15




While we are talking chess (and while I'm personally on a chess kick) just a video somebody posted on the chess Reddit: the legendary Vassily Ivanchuk responds to the prompt "tell us about your game" by showing us what it's like inside his head.
posted by atoxyl at 11:18 PM on November 15 [5 favorites]


Well this line in the Petroff, with 4 Nd3, is news to me.
posted by thelonius at 7:21 AM on November 16


Okay wow. another draw but a compelling fight from black again. best game so far? I think so.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:33 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


That endgame! The sighs of relief among the NRK expert commentators when it finally became clear that Magnus would secure a draw. I think this Caruana guy is pretty good at this chess thing.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:02 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


Most exciting game so far in my eyes. Apart from game 1, this is the only one that looked like there was a chance for someone to win, but this one had that chance kind of build up instead of appear and fizzle suddenly as in the first game.

I was watching the chess24 commentary and it seemed as though people with engines in chat were saying Caruana missed a mate in 30-something moves.
posted by Room 101 at 3:03 PM on November 16


538 goes with The Onion-like title: Chess World Rattled As Someone Nearly Wins Game
posted by clawsoon at 4:15 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]




Just remembered there is a game today and looked in...seems like another dead equal ending
posted by thelonius at 10:10 AM on November 18


As I do housework with the dulcet tones of the ChessNetwork twitch commentator in the background, not having a block of time to think deeply about any of it, I find myself wondering: Has there ever been a chess champion with kids?
posted by clawsoon at 10:20 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]


Do you mean while they hold the wcc title, or do you just mean GM rank?
posted by Think_Long at 10:25 AM on November 18


Has there ever been a chess champion with kids?

Kasparov, for one. I think he had at least one child in the 90's while he was the champion.
posted by thelonius at 10:27 AM on November 18


Steinitz had a daughter who passed away during his reign, Lasker married the widow of his friend and adopted his daughter while he was world champion, Capablanca had two children in the years he held the title, Max Euwe had two daughters by the time of his triumph, Alekhine had a son and a daughter (and died as world champion), Smyslov had an adopted son who committed suicide a few years before his stepfather became world champion, Tal had a son during his reign, or shortly thereafter, Petrosian had two sons by the time he rose to the top, Spassky fathered two children by different wives before he gained the title, and Botvinnik one daughter before any of his three reigns as world champion, and Karpov had a son while he wore the crown. I'm not sure about the recent world champions, though.
posted by Kattullus at 1:59 PM on November 18 [4 favorites]




The format is 12 classic matches over the month of November

Where did people get the idea that a game of chess is called a "match"? Is it that they have an intuition that the word "game" isn't fancy enough? A "match" is a series of games, between the same two people, such as what is occurring in London. It is like calling a single chess game a "tournament".
posted by thelonius at 3:20 AM on November 19 [2 favorites]


It may be technically incorrect (the worst kind of incorrect) but in a lot of contexts I've adopted a preference for "match" over "game" because it feels like a decent distinction from "game" in the sense of "chess is a game". If someone says "What an amazing game!" in this context, their meaning is ambiguous.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:13 AM on November 19 [1 favorite]


It's not only technically incorrect, it's just plain wrong. It's as wrong as calling a game or even a set of tennis a tennis match, or a half-inning of baseball a game, or a hole of golf a round.
posted by flabdablet at 10:04 AM on November 19


"People" is just me. I made the post and used the lazy construction. In my rush to beat all the other MeFites who were likely to step up and make a post about the champioship I even spelled Carlsen wrong. Luckily the mods usually have absolutely nothing better to do than dot I's, cross T's and correct lazily misused words and letters, so they bailed me out of that one.
It's always refreshing to see that pedantry about such things is a more valuable use of the space than discussing the Match, it's pretty boring, huh? /s
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:02 AM on November 19


a more valuable use of the space than discussing the Match, it's pretty boring, huh? /s

The dulcet tones of the commentator were a bit more excited today. Sounds like Caruana missed one of the better possible lines of the match.
posted by clawsoon at 11:37 AM on November 19


I know you weren't really serious about the match being boring but I think... slightly more half of the games have been pretty watchable, given that "a lot of draws" is honestly the most predictable outcome of "this is the closest the players have been rated in years." It's hard to talk about it sometimes though beyond "the top players seem to think Caruana fucked up, there" because I'm so far from even being a decent player.

(I also think it's funny in the less exciting draws when Grischuk just out and says that he's bored.)
posted by atoxyl at 1:17 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]




I was never much more than an enthusiastic amateur who played as a very young man, some of my friends went on to be candidate masters. However, I realized pretty quickly that although I was going to be able to beat most everyone who didn't seriously study the game I was never going to be remotely competitive with serious players and stopped playing at 18 or so, just as chess computers were beginning to show real promise. At the time, I could beat software handily unless I allowed it outrageous amounts of time to analyze positions. I've been interested in the degree to which serious play is no longer contemplated without doing deep analysis with the aid of computers. I find the commentary by Grischuk and Svidler in particular on chess24 to be a revelation at what life at the top is like and am in awe at how quickly they review and discard alternatives mid-match. It is really funny to me to see how they initially reject an unorthodox looking position only to review it deeper when told by the viewers that the computers like the position and they eventually find the line that cause the computer to like it.

Personally, I've enjoying following along with the matches when I can and watching the recaps when I cannot. Game 8 was the first time I thought that the "mistake" made by Fabiano was actually a realistic move that he should have made. I can't imagine that any human could possibly have found that mate in 30 solution as several of the key positions in that mate look ridiculous and I don't think anyone would ever have played it. Pushing the Q in game 8 looked like a pretty clearly solid move, although I assume some of the deeper lines looked to Fabiano like they could go badly for him and he chose a pretty certain draw over a sharp position where he thought he might well be able to lose as well as win.

I also think that it is quite clear that Fabiano's team has done a more meticulous job of preparing positions that surprised Carlsen where Carlsen doesn't seem to have put Fabiano under similar pressure once.
posted by Lame_username at 12:21 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


Is there any place I can easily find a list of the guests who made opening moves? I'm especially interested in today's (game 9), because according to the live commentary he invented a sort of musical chess set that sounded interesting. A centralized list (e.g with Woody Harrelson and Jimmy Wales on it) would be nice.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:36 AM on November 21




Carlsen getting aggressive. Engine doesn't actually like it but if Caruana doesn't play it right he may be in trouble.
posted by atoxyl at 9:54 AM on November 22


This is a good one - they're close on time and "even" but in a way where somebody plausibly wins or loses trying.
posted by atoxyl at 10:15 AM on November 22


Ugh stop trading pieces - you guys looking for another draw?
posted by atoxyl at 10:51 AM on November 22


It hit 40 moves and is back to some rook and pawn shit. Not looking so decisive now.
posted by atoxyl at 11:08 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


I’m sitting in my in-laws’ living room avoiding conversation, watching the Lions game, imagining someone angrily yelling “Not this rook and pawn shit again!” so I’m at least getting that much enjoyment out of Thanksgiving this year. Thanks atoxyl.
posted by Etrigan at 11:29 AM on November 22 [6 favorites]


It's another draw, by the way. Don't think you can accuse them of playing it too safe here, at least not in that mid game. It's just hard to seize a real opportunity to beat either of these guys.
posted by atoxyl at 1:12 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


No, they have been trying to win all (or almost all) of these games....it's just really hard to do so.
posted by thelonius at 1:49 PM on November 22


Man, Anish has really made clear to me the limits of my understanding. He grasps the implications of lines in the midgame so quickly that I can't follow it during the midgame. He'll blitz out the moves and discard positions before I even understand where everything is. I really appreciate the access to their genius in the end game when the three of them have dazzling insight into the game, but its too much for me earlier in the game. I've really grown to appreciate the unique talent of Svidler to break it down in understandable terms while still seeing it all at a very high level. I don't know that there is anyone else who could do that.

I get the idea that some might see it as a series of boring draws, but the last three games have really been poised on a knife's edge at multiple points. No one is going for the easy simplifications -- it really could go either way. It seems clear that if either of them grabs a win, they will be able to grind it out easily. Not sure I feel about the time pressure tie breaks to come.
posted by Lame_username at 5:08 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]


Skype | Caruana vs Carlsen 2018. | Game 10 - agadmator
posted by flabdablet at 10:58 PM on November 22


Good thing I have the next week off, because it looks like we're headed for the rapids. Unless Caruana has something brilliant for monday's game.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:08 PM on November 24




SL chess club is about to have Kasparov on again if anyone else is watching in realtime.
posted by Think_Long at 8:04 AM on November 26


Fabiano is in serious trouble today. He has a very challenging position with multiple threats to defend and very serious time trouble. If he pulls out a draw here it will be quite an accomplishment.
posted by Lame_username at 9:55 AM on November 26


And 10 minutes later they agree to a draw. Total mystery to me.
posted by Lame_username at 10:08 AM on November 26


Carlsen offered the draw, Caruana wasn't going to decline. People seem to think it's because Carlsen believes his best possible shot is in the rapid tiebreaks. Some of the commentators seem rather taken aback by this decision.
posted by atoxyl at 10:27 AM on November 26


Carlsen supposedly told Norewgian TV that he thought he was better but saw no way to play for a significant advantage without taking excessive risk......people don't seem to be respecting, or believing, this, though. Why not try to keep the pressure until the time control, at least?
posted by thelonius at 10:29 AM on November 26


Well that comes out to mean a similar thing, doesn't it? He thought it preferable to avoid the risk of losing the whole match here, and to proceed to tiebreaks in which he's been predicted to have the upper hand since the beginning. It's a bit of a heel move, though, since we don't get to see that do or die classical game we've been hyped up for.
posted by atoxyl at 10:46 AM on November 26


Sure - I wasn't speaking in contradiction of your comment
posted by thelonius at 10:48 AM on November 26


I've been thinking often during this match that fast chess might have more appeal as a spectator event in the 21st century, and Carlsen is already emblematic of the generation of young players who are insanely good at it from playing online. So maybe this will end up marking something of a shift in that direction.
posted by atoxyl at 10:48 AM on November 26


(I wasn't really speaking in contradiction to yours, either).
posted by atoxyl at 10:49 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


So maybe this will end up marking something of a shift in that direction.

A shift to faster time controls is usually assumed to be an essential part of this, so, I guess our lads in London are doing their bit to help........the championship will be decided in, at most, rapid time control chess.
posted by thelonius at 11:30 AM on November 26


Kasparov's take
posted by thelonius at 11:33 AM on November 26


I missed this live but apparently Grischuk (with his usual dry wit plus the charm of a Russian intentionally distorting English idiom) called it "the cherry on top of the coffin of classical chess."
posted by atoxyl at 1:55 PM on November 26 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that draw offer by Carlsen was surprising, particularly given the huge time difference. And while Carlsen hasn't lost a tie-break in a decade, his stat against Caruana in rapid isn't overwhelming. (They haven't played all that many games, but still.) And Carlsen saying that he offered a draw because he couldn't see a good path and the risk was too high is just so unlike him that I wonder what's going on in his mind.

In general I'd be fine with reducing the time in classical chess to two hours, no added time per move.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:27 PM on November 26


I wouldn't go to no added time, but thirty seconds is unnecessary - five seconds should be sufficient. The idea is that a player shouldn't lose an easily won position on time.

Maybe even no added time until the final sudden death time control.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:45 PM on November 26


I agree.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:48 PM on November 26


Perhaps this is all related to Carlsen's statement a couple of games ago that his favourite player from history was himself three or four years ago. Like the rest of us, even he wishes he was still that guy.
posted by clawsoon at 3:12 PM on November 26


There is a good argument to be made that Carlsen a few years ago was indeed the best player ever. He has hinted that he might stop playing if he loses the WC title.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:25 PM on November 26




Why not try to keep the pressure until the time control, at least?
That is the totally incomprehensible thing to me. Fabi had like 10 minutes for 7 or 8 moves and there is a definite chance he might blunder. There were a great many ways he could have been in real trouble and very few similar risks for Magnus. I could see offering a draw once they got past move 40, but the way it went down was a shock. Everyone assumes he has an edge at the shorter format bit surely he isn't that confident.
posted by Lame_username at 7:13 PM on November 26


Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?

Eleven draws and a win under classical time control, where so much of the real contest involves behind-the-scenes preparation by memorizing computer lines, makes for a far less exciting and memorable decider than watching two of the greats testing their innate mastery of the game under severe time pressure. As things stand now, we will get to see the match won in something that actually looks like a struggle.
posted by flabdablet at 9:09 PM on November 26


I think Carlsen just wants to take up smoking weed and playing the guitar, and give this whole chess thing a rest for a while.
posted by clawsoon at 1:48 PM on November 27 [2 favorites]


This is intense! Why is Caruana thinking for 5+ minutes on his 19th move?

And he makes the wrong move!
posted by Dumsnill at 7:34 AM on November 28


And once again it's a rook and pawn endgame that looks rather locked.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:49 AM on November 28


Okay, wow.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:03 AM on November 28


wow. Wow!
posted by Think_Long at 8:03 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Hah!
posted by Dumsnill at 8:08 AM on November 28


Someone won! Someone won! I don’t even care who it was, I’m just glad it wasn’t yet another draw.
posted by Kattullus at 8:18 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


Best part is it was Magnus' win, not just Fabi's loss. It was awesome to witness that rook check that no one else saw coming.
posted by Think_Long at 8:28 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Yeah, small country silly patriotism makes me glad that Magnus won, but at this point I'm happy with anything other than draws. And Magnus seems to be in trouble against Caruana in the ongoing game.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:29 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


small country silly patriotism

My Grandmother always was so excited and happy when Norway was in the news.....she would have been ecstatic at this, even though I don't think she had any interest in chess.
posted by thelonius at 8:37 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


As long as we're harmless our silly patriotism is pretty forgivable.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:40 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Anyone else who missed the first game: I found it here (Tie Break - Game 1). I guess it was 38 Re7+! that was the above-mentioned winning move.
posted by thelonius at 8:46 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]




The engines are now predicting a win for black. Huge blunder from Caruana?
posted by Dumsnill at 8:58 AM on November 28


Caruana looks roasted - the light squares on his third rank are not defendable and the c1 Rook is going back in the box
posted by thelonius at 9:06 AM on November 28


I wonder if this match means that the era of classical chess is over and now the World Chess Champion is the player best at strict time controls?

I am struggling with considering it cynical of Magnus to have played games 11 and 12 strictly to make the playoff.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:08 AM on November 28


Caruana conceded.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:09 AM on November 28


Not the most entertaining conclusion, but it seems clear that Magnus is just much better playing under tight time controls.
posted by Lame_username at 9:18 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for him - it will be hard to play with anywhere close to the confidence he needs, after those two losses. And a draw means he loses the match, now, right?
posted by thelonius at 9:19 AM on November 28


Magnus needs only a draw to win, so he'll play for a very safe draw in the next game I would imagine.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:20 AM on November 28


And Magnus is white . . .
posted by Think_Long at 9:20 AM on November 28


And Magnus is white . . .

And Caruana, who needs a win, uses the drawish Petrov as his main defense to 1 e4. Oy.
posted by thelonius at 9:27 AM on November 28


Or maybe let's jus win this game.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:14 AM on November 28


I feel bad for Caruana now.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:18 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]




Watching Magnus play rapid is like looking at one of those YouTube industrial shredder videos. There's a certain inexorability there; you just know that if the thing ever starts looking a bit clogged and fruitless, all he seems to need to do is reverse briefly for a second or two and then resume grinding.
posted by flabdablet at 10:39 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


"As for the opinions of other chess players - well they're entitled to their stupid opinons." Followed by a huge grin.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:47 AM on November 28


Other players mostly means Kasparov.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:08 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Well folks, it's been a blast. See you in two years.

Unless we're going to keep this thread going to debate whether Magnus is a cynical bastard or a stone-cold killer. My vote is for a lot of column A, and a lot of column B.
posted by Think_Long at 1:57 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Everyone assumes he has an edge at the shorter format bit surely he isn't that confident.
In hindsight, maybe he was that confident about winning the rapid games. Given the outcome, it’d be hard to argue against it.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:15 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


I think, in general, Magnus is great for chess. He is definitely a stone cold killer. i also think, based strictly on commentary, that this match was a pressure cooker for him, so perhaps his cynicism over playing not to lose 11 and 12 reflect that more than it reflects his character on the whole.

Thanks for tuning in everybody.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:33 PM on November 28


Carlsen's rapid rating is now over 2900.
posted by atoxyl at 2:35 PM on November 28




Carlsen's rapid rating is now over 2900.

There are currently two players with blitz ratings over 2900: Magnus at 2939 and MVL at 2937. Here's an analysis of a 3m+2s game they played last year in which Magnus completely unleashes himself.
posted by flabdablet at 10:39 PM on November 28


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