Let’s talk about Chess
November 26, 2021 8:11 AM   Subscribe

The 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship has started in Dubai. Magnus Carlsen defends his title against challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi in a 14 game match between November 26th- December 16th. You can watch the games daily on a number of chess focused Twitch channels linked below. Games start at 4:30pm in Dubai/ 12:30pm London / 7:30am New York. Games typically last 6 hours.

  • FIDE’s official channel featuring Judit Polgar — a former top 10 player and considered the strongest female player ever.
  • Chess.com featuring top American and world number #2 Fabiano Caruana
  • Chess24.com featuring a number of GMs — this site is partially owned by Magnus Carlsen.
  • GM Hikaru Nakamura — a top player and the most popular Twitch chess streamer
  • GM Benjamin Finegold — a long standing fixture at chess camps around the US, know for his dad joke sense of humor and YouTube videos.
You can also get live analysis via a super computer at analysis.sesse.net.
posted by interogative mood (89 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Draw #1 is on the books. Are there any other competitive games or sports where the players can agree to a tie?
posted by clawsoon at 8:47 AM on November 26, 2021


Sometimes I wish everyone would answer the "how do you feel?" questions like Oleksandr Usyk.
posted by clawsoon at 8:56 AM on November 26, 2021 [5 favorites]


Dubai - where it's so hot even the indoor sporting events they paid to bring to the country have to be held in winter
posted by thecjm at 9:02 AM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]


Nepomniachtchi is an interesting name -- it means "not remembering" and could be used if one didn't know one's lineage or had reason to obscure it. I know someone whose family adopted that name as camouflage against anti-Semitism.
posted by aws17576 at 9:11 AM on November 26, 2021 [10 favorites]


Slight error. Judit Polgar is actually on the Chess24 commentary team.
posted by interogative mood at 9:30 AM on November 26, 2021


The chess.com stream also had someone rapping about chess. It was... interesting. I wonder if they'll have him back.
posted by clawsoon at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2021


I've been meaning to ask this over on the green but I'll just ask here since I expect you folks might know the answer: Do high-level tournament games ever actually end in checkmate? Do they all end by resignation or draws?
posted by bondcliff at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2021


In shorter time controls it's known to happen, but overwhelmingly GMs resign when defeat is inevitable...

GMs overlooking mate in one.
posted by grog at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]


At the highest level in a longer time format, if there's a forced checkmate within the next dozen moves or so, both players are going to see it, and the losing player is going to resign. I think that functionally counts as ending in checkmate. The only time they might actually play it out is when the loser graciously decides to let the winner put a particularly pretty series of moves on the board.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 9:52 AM on November 26, 2021 [4 favorites]


bondcliff: It's extremely rare for GM-level games to end in checkmate because they can see it coming several moves in advance. Players typically resign once they see that they're in a losing position. Usually at that point it's trivial for the other player to convert the position into a checkmate, so there's no point to playing on.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]


Slight error. Judit Polgar is actually on the Chess24 commentary team.

Chess24 has Judit and Anish Giri (a fixture in the top 10 of the current era). FIDE had former champ Viswanathan Anand and Ukrainian GM Anna Muzychuk.
posted by atoxyl at 9:57 AM on November 26, 2021


Optional musical accompaniment to this post: https://youtu.be/rgc_LRjlbTU
posted by TedW at 10:46 AM on November 26, 2021


Also, a great chess story
posted by TedW at 10:51 AM on November 26, 2021


agadmator's summaries are always good if you don't want to watch the full game. Game 1.
posted by clawsoon at 11:15 AM on November 26, 2021 [6 favorites]


Aws17576, I was really curious about his name. In fact, it was the straw that led to me reading the links. Thank you for definition (if not the reason for its being).
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2021


agadmator's summaries are always good if you don't want to watch the full game.

All chess commentary is incomplete for me now without that guy saying "So, what is the idea here?"
posted by mhoye at 11:24 AM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]


For the non-chess folks chess starts as a game where both players have the same pieces and white has a slight advantage as the fist mover. The only way to win at this level is to create some kind of imbalance in the position and in that instability you eventually tip your opponent over.

In today’s game black (Magnus) used a gambit to create the imbalance. In chess a gambit is when a player sacrifices a pawn to gain an advantage in terms of development / speed and position. In today’s game Magnus (with black) traded a pawn to have both bishops and a knight against Nepo who had two knights and a bishop. Eventually Nepo was forced to give back the pawn to get rid of those troublesome priests. While knights and bishops are roughly equal In terms of relative power on their own; the having both bishops against knights is often slightly better in the long run.

Chess games are grouped by initial move sequences played in previous games. Because of the number of possible move combinations almost all games eventually diverge. These groups of initial chess moves are known as chess openings. This game followed a classic chess opening known as the Spanish Game or Ruy Lopez. This is one of the most famous chess openings and has been used in millions of games. The particular variation of today’s opening is know as the Marshall Atack /Gambit and it actually has a connection to the last Pandemic of 1917. The Marshall Attack is named after Frank Marshall. If you ever visit Manhattan you can go to the Marshall Chess Club, one of the oldest and most well known clubs in the US.
posted by interogative mood at 11:38 AM on November 26, 2021 [24 favorites]


Excellent stuff. I was big into chess as a young kid in Ireland, had a chess computer, played correspondence chess (on postcards!), had every 7 year-old's dream book.

I lost interest for a couple of decades, but got back into it during lockdown. Some people hoarded toilet roll, some baked sourdough/banana bread, some took up sea swimming, I took up online chess.

It's funny how my style changed so much and so quickly from when I was a kid - when I was young I knew the paper value of the pieces etc. and was very attritional, but now I'm aggressive, asymmetrical, and want so much to be going on that the other player is overloaded with the complexity of it.
posted by kersplunk at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2021


to get rid of those troublesome priests

nicely done
posted by gwint at 11:54 AM on November 26, 2021 [3 favorites]


Are there any other competitive games or sports where the players can agree to a tie?

Hmm. You can agree to a draw in cricket. While a draw in cricket isn't precisely the same as a tie in cricket (the latter only happens when all innings are played and the scores are equal), I think it probably still counts for the purposes of your question.

I don't think agreements to draw a match are set out explicitly. However, Law 16.5.2 says that a match will be drawn if it doesn't end in one of the ways specified elsewhere in Law 16. If the captains come to an agreement not to play further the match cannot proceed and cannot be awarded to either side (both having refused to play, rather than just one). As a consequence, the only possible result is a draw. I guess 16.5.2 would also apply in cases where enough players on both sides refused to play, but I can't think of actual examples of it, unlike draws by agreement between captains.
posted by howfar at 1:21 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]




I'm watching a bit of the FIDE Twitch and it's funny seeing the commentators offer an explanation of why Magnus made rook to d8, given an apparent weakness in that move, only to immediately second-guess themselves, "Maybe Magnus thought through that and knew the potential weakness would not be a problem".
posted by polymodus at 3:36 PM on November 26, 2021


I believe (as do many) that chess is a draw with perfect play. What I would prefer is that it is a forced win for Black, which would mean that the initial position would be zugzwang.
posted by thelonius at 4:31 PM on November 26, 2021 [5 favorites]


Are there any other competitive games or sports where the players can agree to a tie?

Match play golf, most notably The Concession.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:52 PM on November 26, 2021


Magnus & Ian Discuss Game 1 Over the Board. The brief postgame chat that chess players often have with each other, where they check with their opponent whether they missed anything.
posted by clawsoon at 5:03 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]


Caruana isn't world number 2 anymore -- that's the 18-year-old phenom Alireza Firouzja, who this month became the youngest player ever to achieve an Elo rating of 2800.

Grandmasters have an encyclopedic knowledge of opening variations, so one big part of top-level chess is finding sidelines that your opponent hasn't memorized or analyzed. Magnus is very good at this and was able to do this today, with an almost-never-before-played rook move in the Ruy Lopez that put Nepo on the back foot for much of the rest of the game, though he was able to hold on and find a forced draw.

The psych-your-opponent-out aspect of this is interesting too. Magnus kept making quick moves in the opening and then walking away from the board, as if to say "I have this stuff down so pat, I don't even need to look at the pieces."
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 8:52 PM on November 26, 2021


Have you guys read Von Goom's gambit? Scroll down or ctrl-f to find it, it is an oldie but a goodie.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:40 PM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]


Nepomniachtchi is an interesting name

So is Ian. It's a perfectly fine Scottish name, but you would normally turn that Russian spelling into Jan or Yan to match the pronunciation. I'm assuming he made a conscious choice there.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 12:02 AM on November 27, 2021


Will Magnus dare to once again use the Bongcloud Opening?

I was thinking about when this would be socially acceptable to do. My guesses:

- Nakamura has played hundreds (thousands?) of Bongcloud games online, so it worked in that situation as a low-stakes draw offer that amused both players.

- If it was played in the world championship when both players are equal, or by the player who was ahead, it would be an insult. "You suck so much that I can beat you with this dumb opening."

- It could only be played at the world championship by a player who was way behind and virtually guaranteed to lose the match. "I had to try something, since nothing else was working." It would still be seen by many people as disrespectful to the game of chess, but not necessarily disrespectful to the opponent.

Could anyone who knows more about the culture of chess correct me or expand on this?
posted by clawsoon at 4:53 AM on November 27, 2021


FWIW, chess24 actually has 2 streams. The "main" stream with David Howell, Jovanka Houska and Kaja Snare, and the "deep dive" stream with Judit Polgar and Anish Giri.
posted by clawsoon at 4:59 AM on November 27, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think it's worth mentioning that the Levitov Chess Twitch Channel also covers the match, featuring commentary by grandmaster Peter Svidler and grandmaster Evgenij Miroshnichenko.
posted by WalkingAround at 5:05 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Is Magnus wearing a differently-branded shirt each game? Yesterday it was a Mastercard-looking logo, today it's something called Unibet.
posted by clawsoon at 5:19 AM on November 27, 2021


Oh, nevermind. I think I'm just looking at opposite sleeves on his shirt.
posted by clawsoon at 5:22 AM on November 27, 2021


Magnus has done fashion modeling. Don't question his shirt game.
posted by thelonius at 6:05 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


.....when I was young I knew the paper value of the pieces etc. and was very attritional, but now I'm aggressive, asymmetrical, and want so much to be going on that the other player is overloaded with the complexity of it.

That is a great style of play for fast games. And it is fun. Chess is a board game, and board games are supposed to be fun.........
posted by thelonius at 8:44 AM on November 27, 2021


I swim in humility, chess-wise.

My favorite chess book is Laszlo Polgar's "CHESS--5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games." It's an engaging journey from "White to move, mate in one" to "Take a look at this sequence and see what you think about it." It's a bit more about understanding the journey than memorizing the street signs.
posted by mule98J at 8:51 AM on November 27, 2021


agadmator summary, game 2
posted by clawsoon at 11:01 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Barack Obama was the president the last time a decisive classical game was played in a world championship.
posted by clawsoon at 11:44 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Magnus played the Queen’s Gambit today so chess fans who came via the Netflix series should be happy. Once again he choose a complicated, unbalanced style of play. Magnus traded off one of his rooks for a knight. The rook is considered more powerful than a knight. This kind of trade is known as an “exchange sacrifice”. Live computer analysis suggested this was a bad decision; but commentators disagreed. Imagine sitting in traffic and Waze says you could be there in 10 minutes; but you don’t have Waze, that’s the difference between what the player experiences and what the computer says. The computer analysis at this level is often unable to account for the moves a human can find in the time allotted.

Here are some recaps I prefer over Agadmator: GM - Chess Grandmaster, IM - International Chess Master, NM - National Chess Master.
posted by interogative mood at 12:18 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


Barack Obama was the president the last time a decisive classical game was played in a world championship.

Yes, that game was played on November 24, 2016. Since then there have been 16 consecutive draws, and we are still counting.
posted by WalkingAround at 12:35 PM on November 27, 2021


Here's another recap by IM Levy Rozman, a.k.a. GothamChess, for good measure.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 1:22 PM on November 27, 2021


For anyone following along with agadmator and is new to him, be aware that his favourite opening is the Evans gambit, an opening characterized by the placement of a pawn on b4. So when he launches into a digression about how a position could have evolved if b4 had been played, it is partly legit analysis but also a bit of an inside joke.
posted by juv3nal at 4:18 PM on November 27, 2021 [3 favorites]


Another draw today. Tomorrow is the first rest day.
posted by interogative mood at 8:14 AM on November 28, 2021


Today is the rest day of the first of your life.
posted by clawsoon at 9:20 AM on November 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


Speed Chess Championship matches have been scheduled for all the rest days. Today's match.
posted by clawsoon at 2:05 PM on November 29, 2021


Missed opportunity in the interviews for Ian to wish Magnus a great birthday party that goes late into the night tonight.
posted by clawsoon at 7:53 AM on November 30, 2021


It was Magnus' birthday today and the game featured an opening known as the Petrov Defense with a reputation for becoming an easy draw. In this opening both sides move the pawns in front of their kings and attack their opponents pawn with a knight. A quick exchange of those pawn occurs and then both sides are equal. At the top levels it has a reputation as being easy to draw, and unlikely to lead to a decisive game. The game repeated the moves played in hundreds of games until very late when Magnus played a new variation that contained a trap, but Ian figured it out instantly and the game end in a draw.

This is actually the first opening I recommend people study when they are getting serious about their chess game. The initial moves (know as theory) are relatively easy to learn and it tends to lead to an equal middle game. It lets you get your pieces out with minimal opportunities to blunder -- something that is really useful if you are a beginning player. From this position of stability you can then play carefully and wait for your opponent to make a mistake before you do and then you win. Other more popular openings like the Ruy Lopez, the Italian Game, the Sicilian, etc are full of lots of early variations that often overwhelm new players. Once you've learned the concepts of opening theory and how to study it from something simple you can apply those lessons to those openings.

You can learn some fun sidelines like the Stafford Gambit that let you play incredibly complicated positions full of lots of traps.
posted by interogative mood at 9:23 AM on November 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


Wondered whether that Stafford link was going to be Rosen, wasn't disappointed ;P
posted by juv3nal at 3:04 PM on November 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Enjoying both agadmator and Levy's explanations.
agadmator to me is the perfect "Everything is Illuminated" accent for an English-language chess commentator.
I see his dog in the background and expect it to be named "Sammy Davis Junior Junior"
posted by MtDewd at 4:56 PM on December 1, 2021


Tomorrow they get another rest day. Magnus gets to try again with White on Friday. Everyone is praying for an opening move other than pawn to e4
posted by interogative mood at 9:05 PM on December 1, 2021


Today's speed chess championship match. I believe that this is a quarterfinals match. Everything happens faster...
posted by clawsoon at 7:29 AM on December 2, 2021




The comment that Magnus made the other day in response to a question about draws, where he said something like "that's just the way top-level classical chess is now," made me wonder if he feels like he's the holder of a dead mantle.
posted by clawsoon at 4:31 PM on December 2, 2021


It doesn’t have to be this way. I think the incentives are just messed up, so we get draws rather than players seeking to play decisive games.
posted by interogative mood at 10:34 PM on December 2, 2021


Interesting. What sort of incentives could you put in place to encourage decisive games, when any given match can be decided by a single win?
posted by clawsoon at 6:04 AM on December 3, 2021


and BOOM a decisive game....
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:19 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]


Today was the longest game without an adjournment in the history of the World Championship. After 136 moves Magnus managed to convert a theoretical draw into a win. The game started with 1 d4 while previous games started with 1. e4. d4 (moving the pawn in front of the queen) is the second most popular first move for white. IIRC Alpha Zero (Google AI chess computer) evaluated 1. d4 as slightly stronger and more likely to lead to a decisive game than 1. e4.
posted by interogative mood at 12:37 PM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]


I tuned in about three hours into the game, just when Magnus was getting short on time for the first time control, thinking maybe I'd be watching another two hours. Ha ha, make that five. But it was worth it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2021


In the post game press conference today they looked completely exhausted. Magnus claimed this was his strategy to play a long game and exhaust his opponent to get an opportunity to win.

https://youtu.be/E9H6BgQdpWg
posted by interogative mood at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2021


Today was the longest game without an adjournment* in the history of the World Championship.

A main purpose of adjournments was to prevent games from being decided by sheer fatigue, wasn't it? But chess engines have truly finished off the practice, I suppose.
posted by thelonius at 2:17 AM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


Magnus won again today after an embarrassing blunder by Ian. Ian actually apologized in the press conference for his level of play today saying it wasn’t even Grandmaster level.

Imagine putting your whole life and focus into something like this. Evaluating tens of thousands of chess positions with an accuracy of 99%. All that just to get to the World Championship match. Then you get to today and the game is totally even. Then you make move after thinking through a thousand possibilities and as soon as you’ve made it you see the thing you missed and it is over. It isn’t some hard to spot error either, you saw it; then you thought about the position and other moves and you forgot why it lost. You play that move and you remember what you forgot. You know instantly that the move isn’t just a slight error, it’s losing. The error is so obvious that it could be a chess puzzle they give n00bs.

You fight on to your inevitable and certain doom. Then at the end of your suffering there is a press conference. That’s a tough day.
posted by interogative mood at 9:58 AM on December 5, 2021 [2 favorites]


Hurts bad enough losing like that in a rated game in an amateur tournament, I can't imagine what it is like doing so in a World Championship match. I feel bad for him.

It isn’t some hard to spot error either, you saw it; then you thought about the position and other moves and you forgot why it lost.

It might have gone like this: he of course saw the check, and saw that his a-pawn was safe after it because White has to save his piece. But he retained this 'static image', as Kotov called it, and didn't observe that his move rendered it void, because it opened a line to his own undefended piece, and that made his pawn takeable. It really was a typical blunder for a club level player, if that is what happened: you say oh, they can't take there, and then get distracted analyzing other stuff, and forget that you have to recheck this to be sure your move is safe.
posted by thelonius at 6:08 PM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


I thought during the press conference he said he forgot that at the end of the sequence his bishop was hanging (unprotected and under attack by Magnus’ Queen).

One thing that was kind of funny was the mistake seemed too obvious and Magnus spent several minutes checking for some kind of trick — the idea of such a blunder was so inconceivable that Magnus had to triple check everything and probably panic for a few minutes.
posted by interogative mood at 7:41 PM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


That's even worse - GM supposed to know which of their pieces are not defended!
posted by thelonius at 3:28 AM on December 6, 2021


I think the pressure of the match is just getting to him.....former WC competitors say it was beyond what they had expected, and of course the first loss has to have been hard to bounce back from. Losing from a drawn position probably does some hit points to your state of mind.
posted by thelonius at 5:05 AM on December 6, 2021


Today I watched Nakamura swindle Giri out of multiple winning positions in the Speed Chess Championship quarterfinals on route to a convincing match victory.
posted by clawsoon at 5:26 PM on December 6, 2021


Hikaru Nakamura was once America’s top hope of having another world champion. He came up at a time that the Saint Louis Chess Club and it’s billionaire benefactor were able to give him and his cohort of top US players tremendous support and extra training in areas like media relations. Unfortunately in 2017 Hikaru narrowly missed making the candidates tournament; so he was out of the running for the 2018 championship cycle. When he was recovering from the loss he started playing online speed chess and more importantly streaming on twitch. His channel took off and the money has been so much better for him that playing over the board tournaments that unfortunately he probably has given up on his quest for the championship to focus on online speed chess instead. On the one hand it is incredible to have him on twitch and sharing his thoughts as he destroys other players. On the other hand it is a bit like if Jordan at his peak had decided just to play for the Globe Trotters and hold dunk contests. It is fun to watch but as a fan you have to wonder what might of been.
posted by interogative mood at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2021


When he was recovering from the loss he started playing online speed chess

My impression - possibly incorrect - is that he has been playing online speed chess for a very long time. For some reason I have 2008 and the Internet Chess Club in my head.
posted by clawsoon at 6:17 PM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]


This might be why I have that in my head: Bullet Chess: One Minute to Mate.
posted by clawsoon at 6:23 PM on December 6, 2021


I think a lot of top players now grew up playing online speed chess. And yeah, Nakamura was ranked number one on ICC for a long time, I think. Possibly on more than one account. One could say he retreated from his potential in classical - having been briefly in the 2800 club and in fact world number 2 - but he’s arguably the best ever at the kind of chess he mostly plays now, which is also the kind that’s exciting to a lot of people right now. Maybe Magnus, who seems to edge him out in the OTB blitz standings, is better, but he exhibits his skill online much less often.
posted by atoxyl at 11:31 PM on December 6, 2021


Did I hear something about Magnus playing a bunch of bullet online during his WCC training camp?
posted by clawsoon at 12:06 AM on December 7, 2021


Another stupid blunder by Ian today and he’s on the cusp of elimination. Magnus needs 1.5 more points to clinch. In the press conference Magnus seems more upset than Ian about the blunder — I think he’s genuinely disappointed.

Regarding Hikaru what I meant to say is that while he has played online forever he only started streaming seriously after he missed the candidates and that changed his focus for his chess career. He has said as much on his stream several times.
posted by interogative mood at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


In the press conference Magnus seems more upset than Ian about the blunder — I think he’s genuinely disappointed.

I wonder if Magnus is thinking about the psychological effects of the press conferences. An attitude of "I'm disappointed I have to face such weak opposition" will surely cut into the confidence of someone who, if everything they're saying about Ian is true, tends to have collapses of confidence when he's down.
posted by clawsoon at 11:57 AM on December 7, 2021 [1 favorite]


Polgar and Giri discussed whether chess players should bring sports psychologists onboard after Nepo's collapse yesterday. Giri seemed to think that a psychologist who wasn't also a chess master would be basically useless, though I think he may have missed the psychology of the situation right in front of him. I don't think a psychologist would need to understand why c5 was a blunder in order to understand good mental habits breaking down after a hard loss.
posted by clawsoon at 4:46 AM on December 8, 2021


They played a boring draw today. Magnus didn't need to win and Ian needed to find his footing and be able to into the rest day and figure out what he does on Friday. Tomorrow they rest and Friday Ian gets the white pieces. On Friday either he'll try to win, or if he's given up then we'll see another quick draw like today. I hope he goes for it; but its likely he's just given up at this point.
posted by interogative mood at 7:44 AM on December 8, 2021


Nakamura was ICC king for sure. A lot of people criticized him for wasting his talent, in fact, at the time, with endeavors such as spending all night trying to promote all his pawns to Knights and mate Rybka .

As I recall, he didn't get a lot of help from USCF when he was young. That may be in part because of the perception that he wasn't serious (the ICC bullet marathons) and also because he was pretty abrasive to many people at that time; he seems to have left that behind in his youth, for the most part, though.

Watching him play blitz is a trip, he just destroys almost everyone below GM, and plenty of the GMs. He did a speed run (new Chess.com account, start playing the 500 rated players and work your way up) and when he got to the 2000-2200 players he still had no trouble playing complete garbage openings and then crushing them.
posted by thelonius at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2021


he was pretty abrasive to many people at that time; he seems to have left that behind in his youth, for the most part, though

There was a bit of streamer drama over Nakamura’s channel issuing copyright complaints against other streamers earlier this year, which led to, among other things, the release of a video of him drunkenly wrestling with one of the Chessbrahs as Yasser Seirawan and Fabiano Caruana look on. And Ben Finegold, who of course has known everybody in U.S. chess forever and who isn’t afraid to be abrasive himself, spending like an hour of stream time telling stories with the implication that everyone knows Naka is a dick. But since then I think they’ve all realized it’s better for the online chess community if they try to get along.
posted by atoxyl at 10:20 AM on December 8, 2021


USChess is a side show in the US especially when it comes to anything beyond scholastic chess. The Saint Louis Chess Club is now the center of everything thanks to incredibly generous financial support from a retired billionaire named Rex Sinqfield. Rex has provided significant support to Hikaru, Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana and other top US players.
posted by interogative mood at 4:12 PM on December 8, 2021


Magnus won today and the match is over. I’m the last 4 games Ian made 3 significant blunders that lost instantly. I think Ian didn’t do enough physical conditioning to prepare for the match, he got exhausted in the marathon game 6 and then couldn’t physically recover.
posted by interogative mood at 8:32 AM on December 10, 2021


Huh, that's an interesting take that it's physical conditioning he needed. Most stuff I've read is suggesting he didn't recover psychologically from game 6.
posted by juv3nal at 4:04 PM on December 10, 2021


Looks like six of the eight slots for the next Candidates Tournament are already locked up.
posted by clawsoon at 4:42 PM on December 10, 2021


There was an article in maybe the WSJ a few years ago about the physical conditioning regimes that Carlsen and Caruana followed to prepare for their match. I think it was probably Botvinnik who taught that it's essential; anyway, it has been known for a long time, Kasparov had trainers for sure.
posted by thelonius at 4:03 AM on December 11, 2021


It might be slightly overstated in the media but there have been a few studies done that suggested that high-level players have significantly elevated heart rates, blood pressure and energy expenditure during matches. So physical conditioning is definitely considered a legitimate factor that supports mental stamina, and Carlsen is known for being fairly athletic. I’ve also seen it bandied about that Nepomniachtchi already had a reputation for sometimes flaming out under pressure, though. And I can also believe what some of the commentators were suggesting about the final game, that by that point he just wanted out of there.
posted by atoxyl at 2:11 PM on December 11, 2021


Carlsen released a video revealing his prep team. The inclusion of the young Russian player Daniil Dubov is apparently stirring some controversy among more nationalistic types in Russia.
posted by atoxyl at 2:16 PM on December 11, 2021


ESPN has published something of a paean to Carlsen after his victory.
posted by clawsoon at 3:24 PM on December 11, 2021


Dubov responds to the controversy in an interview here.
posted by juv3nal at 1:21 AM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


I think there is a pretty well established link between baseline physical conditioning and how the brain responds and recovers from mental fatigue particularly in the areas of working memory and executive function / decision making. Maybe I am not understanding the scientific research.
posted by interogative mood at 4:09 PM on December 12, 2021


Yeah apologies in case I came across as suggesting the two are totally unrelated. Mostly curious which end the balance is toward, to the extent that we can even know.
posted by juv3nal at 9:13 PM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


And now Magnus is saying that he might give up his title instead of put himself through another WCC match unless Firouzja is the challenger. There's been a bunch of speculation about what it all means, but one idea I haven't seen yet is whether Magnus would use this as pressure to get FIDE to change the format. Apparently he dislikes the one-on-one match format because it encourages draws, which bore him?
posted by clawsoon at 4:40 AM on December 16, 2021 [1 favorite]


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