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    Saturday
    Mar312018

    Caruana-Carlsen...in Round 1, Now!

    Part of the fun of the Grenke Chess Classic is that it features the first game between Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, now that the former is the official challenger for the latter's world championship title. And we didn't have to wait: they were paired for round 1, and that game is underway now.

    The other pairings are: Viswanathan Anand - Hou Yifan, Georg Meier - Levon Aronian, Arkadij Naiditsch - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Matthias Bluebaum - Nikita Vitiugov.

    Friday
    Mar302018

    Caruana's First Reaction

    Here's a nice mini-interview of Fabiano Caruana by Macauley Peterson, almost immediately after the former's win over Alexander Grischuk won the Candidates and the right to face Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship title.

    Thursday
    Mar292018

    Notre Dame in Two Final Fours

    Since there have been a number of broadly sports-related posts lately (my stint on sports radio talking about Fabiano Caruana, the Kasparov quote about chess being a sport, and the preceding post on the "hot hand"), here's one more. Added bonus: it will help tide over all the Notre Dame fans who can't wait until college football resumes in late August.

    Two Notre Dame sports teams have reached the final four in their respective sports: the women's basketball team (which will play U Conn tomorrow/today - Friday [gulp]) and their hockey team (which will participate in the "Frozen Four" next week). If either team wins a national championship, you'll get to read about it here; if not, then...what final fours?

    Thursday
    Mar292018

    Is There a "Hot Hand" in Chess?

    The notion of a "hot hand" in sports is regularly debated by fans. The idea, simply put, is that a player who has just succeeded (or just succeeded a certain number of times) is likelier than usual to succeed in his next attempt. To take the usual example, a basketball player who shoots 50% but has made his last two or three shots can now be expected to make his next shot more than 50% of the time.

    Many, probably most, take it as obvious that there is such a thing as the "hot hand", and not only casual fans but professional commentators and the players themselves seem to believe it. Statisticians, by contrast, have generally pooh-poohed the idea. In any random series of independent events there will be streaks, even surprisingly long ones. Because those streaks are so impressive to behold, we find it natural to accept the idea of a "hot hand". Here's an example of a positively incandescent, supremely combustible hand:

    That's a mic drop for the pro-hot hand side, but again, statisticians have generally rejected the notion as not standing up to careful scrutiny. There was some recent statistical research suggesting that there might be something to the "hot hand" idea after all, but it wasn't conclusive.

    Let's turn to our favorite sport (assuming one's doing it right): is there a "hot hand" in chess? I turn the floor over to our favorite mathematics/computer science guy, IM Ken Regan. Have a look.

    Wednesday
    Mar282018

    Grenke Chess Classic 

    The lead-up to the 2018 World Chess Championship begins this weekend with the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden, Germany. Both Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana will be playing, together with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian, Viswanathan Anand, Nikita Vitiugov, Arkadij Naiditsch, Hou Yifan, Georg Meier, and Matthias Bluebaum.

    The pairings haven't yet been decided, and the first round is at 3 p.m. local time (= 9 a.m. ET). Who will get the upper hand in the psychological duel between Carlsen and Caruana? Stay tuned.

    Wednesday
    Mar282018

    Saric Wins European Championship

    Despite all the ties at the top coming into the last round, the 2018 European Championship finished with a clear winner, Croatian GM Ivan Saric. By defeating David Navara in the last round he achieved one of the best results of his career, and he has earned the highest rating of his career as well.

    Seven players tied for second, and 24 players tied in the next score group. As mentioned in an earlier post, the top 23 finishers qualify for the World Cup, and as it turned out two players finished not only equal on points but on tiebreaks as well. I'm not sure what will happen there, but if one of the 22 players above them qualify for the World Cup by other means it will be a non-issue.

    Anyway, there were doubtlessly many interesting games played here, so if you're looking for a source of chess entertainment between yesterday's Candidates action and the action this weekend (starring Carlsen & Caruana), this is a good place to go researching.

    Wednesday
    Mar282018

    "Chess is Sport if You're Doing it Right"

    A nice quote from Garry Kasparov, offered en passant in an opinion piece criticizing FIFA's decision to hold the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

    Wednesday
    Mar282018

    Caruana Interview

    Not a bad interview, despite the misleading clickbait title. Fabiano Caruana gives a very general sense of his understanding about where he stands vis-a-vis Magnus Carlsen.

    HT: Brian Karen

    Wednesday
    Mar282018

    The Chess Mind Live on The Beat of Sports

    If all goes well I'll be on The Beat of Sports, an Orlando, Florida-based sports talk show, at or around 11:17 a.m. ET this (Wednesday) morning, talking about Fabiano Caruana's performance in the Candidates tournament. You may be able to tune in here; hopefully I'll do a good job representing our great game to the general public.

    And for those of you who discovered this blog through my radio "appearance", you're welcome here. Please leave a comment either here or via the Contact link on the right sidebar. If you have a question about Caruana, or the game in general (for instance, how to find chess communities in person or online suitable for yourself, for your kids, etc.), that's welcome too.

    Wednesday
    Mar282018

    Pro Chess League Playoffs

    We haven't been keeping up with the Pro Chess League playoffs the past couple of weeks either, as the Candidates sucked all the oxygen out of the room, but they're underway and down to the final four. While it has been an internet competition, the final four will be a two-day event with the four teams meeting in person in San Francisco April 7 & 8 - more info about that, here.