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    Entries in 2018 World Championship (33)

    Saturday
    Nov102018

    World Championship, Game 2: Caruana Presses, Draws Comfortably with Black

    It was a bit of turnabout is fair play in game 2 of the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and his challenger, Fabiano Caruana. In game 1 Caruana was surprised in the opening and soon on the defense, despite having the white pieces, and had to hold the draw a pawn down in a rook ending. That same scenario characterized game 2, changing only "Caruana" to "Carlsen" and "1" to "2".

    There were several disanalogies, however, that come out in a fuller account. First, Carlsen had the first opening surprise in game 2 - a mild one - in that he started with 1.d4 rather than 1.e4. Second and more significantly, Carlsen was never in serious trouble, while Caruana was completely lost for a time in the first game. And third, while Carlsen played the drawn pawn-up rook ending for a very, very long time, Caruana's "effort" was perfunctory at best, and the entire game went fewer moves than the portion of game 1 that consisted of Carlsen's flogging a dead (or at least mostly dead) horse.

    It was a successful day for Caruana, who has probably vanquished any psychological scars from the first part of game 1, and can spend tomorrow's rest day worrying about his openings. He got nothing with White in the first game, and it remains to be seen if today's 10...Rd8 is a serious move that can stand the test of time or just a clever one-off.

    Here's game 2, with light notes; the more detailed subscriber version (and video) will be sent out later.

    Saturday
    Nov102018

    Carlsen-Caruana in the Wall Street Journal

    While you wait for game two to finish in a speedy draw, have a look at this article in the Wall Street Journal or, better, send it to your "civilian" friends. It's a bit too pop psychology-ish for my taste, but thankfully it's not too far over the top.

    HT: Howard Sample

    Saturday
    Nov102018

    Carlsen-Caruana, Game 2 About to Start

    Game two gets underway within a minute or so. Enjoy, and by the way it's not too late to sign up for my coverage of the match! (I am covering the match, it's not merely hypothetical.)

    Saturday
    Nov102018

    World Championship, Game 1: A Very Fortunate Draw for Caruana

    The match got off to an exciting start. Often game 1 of a world championship match is a tepid affair, with the players testing the water, getting acclimated, checking their form and so on. Not this time! Magnus Carlsen played combatively from the get-go, eschewing his usual 1...e5 (vs. 1.e4) for a Sicilian, and then not a Dragon but 2...Nc6. Fabiano Caruana went for a Rossolimo, and it turned out that it was Carlsen who was better prepared. Caruana burned a ton of time, got outplayed, and was lost.

    So far so good for Carlsen, but then he started playing poorly - rashly - in Caruana's time trouble and let him escape. Caruana couldn't maintain the level needed to assure his escape, and soon he was lost again. But once again, Carlsen played poorly once he had a winning advantage, and on move 40 - the last move of the first time control - he made a very big error that allowed Caruana to escape into a drawn ending.

    Carlsen kept playing...and playing...and playing. The game went 115 moves and took seven hours in all, but the last 60 moves were mostly unnecessary from a purely chess-related perspective. Will the long game tire Caruana out for tomorrow (Saturday)? That's probably Carlsen's hope, and we'll see. Meanwhile, you can replay the game here, with a greatly abbreviated version of the notes I worked up for subscribers. (It's not too late to sign up! - go here for further details.)

    Friday
    Nov092018

    The World Championship Begins in 10 Minutes!

    The match begins any minute now: be sure to watch on your favorite chess site!

    The rules are the same as usual: 12 classical games, followed by increasingly rapid tiebreaks, as needed. Unlike the old days, the champion has no built-in advantage of draw odds: to win the match, he must outscore his opponent.

    The match schedule is also as it has been: play two days, take a day off, play two days, etc. The one exception is that after game 11, there's an additional day off. If the match is tied after 12 games, there's a day off before the playoff. (All this has been standard for several matches as well.)

    So who will win? Magnus Carlsen, the champion, or his challenger, Fabiano Caruana. Both out of patriotism and because his overall results have been better for quite a while now, I'm going with Caruana. What say all of you?

    Thursday
    Nov082018

    My World Championship Coverage: An Update

    I'm probably going to cover the match, but it's a bit on the border between being worth the significant amount of time and effort required to analyze the games deeply, record videos, handle all the mailings and so on and not being worth it. So please, if you're considering signing up for my coverage at a cost of $30 (more is of course welcome if you'd like to make a donation), drop me a note, ASAP, via the Contact Me form just above the list of tags on the right sidebar.

    Thanks, and please spread the word.

    Monday
    Nov052018

    How Will I Cover the Carlsen-Caruana Match? You Decide

    [N.B. For the next few days I will repost this to the top of the page, to make sure everyone sees it and has a chance to sign up, if they're so inclined. By the same token, be sure to check below this - there may well be new posts there.]

    A few people have written asking if I will cover the upcoming Magnus Carlsen-Fabiano Caruana match in a way similar to my coverage of the Anand-Carlsen matches in 2013 and 2014, and the Anand-Gelfand match in 2012. I covered those matches on the blog to some extent, but worked up some deep analysis and videos for subscribers, sending both to them by email.

    If there is sufficient interest, I'm willing to do it again. If you're willing to pay $30 (or more) for this, please drop me a note via the "Contact Me" box in the right sidebar along with your email address, and if enough people have signed up by the end of Wednesday, Eastern time, I'll send out a note requesting that you go ahead and send that amount to me via PayPal. (The match begins next Friday.) If not enough people are interested, then I won't, and no one will have committed any money.

    The feedback I received on my coverage of the earlier matches was very positive, and it's also a way of helping keep this blog going.

    Order now, operators are standing by...

    Monday
    Nov052018

    The NY Times on Caruana

    Here's some good press from the "civilian" press, a profile article published this past weekend about Fabiano Caruana. Worth a read, and worth sharing on social media for the benefit of our non-chess-playing friends and family.

    HT: Howard Sample

    Wednesday
    Aug082018

    And Speaking of London...The World Championship Venue has been Set

    While the 2018 World Chess Championship had already been set for London this November, there was some speculation (as is often the case when Agon is involved) that the event would be moved to the United States - perhaps to St. Louis. This did not happen, and the particular venue in London has been determined: the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and his challenger, Fabiano Caruana, will be played at The College in Holborn, in central London. Congrats to my English readers and those of you on the Continent able to make the trip; maybe we in the U.S. will have better luck when Caruana defends his title in 2020.

    Saturday
    Jun232018

    Only 99,457 Signatures to Go **UPDATED**

    I received an email from my former employer, World Chess (Agon), with Exciting News! Yes, truly! Here it is:

    US President Will Meet the Challenger to the World Championship Title (If You Want Him To!)

    More:

    Dear Friends,

    Chess fans from the US contacted us with an idea: to petition Donald Trump to invite Fabiano Caruana, the challenger to the Title, to the White House before the World Chess Championship Match that takes place in London in November.

    They published a petition today in support of this proposal at the White House’ petitions page. According to the rules, if the petition is signed by over 100,000 in 30 days, the Administration will review and possibly grant it.

    We are totally supporting the idea, not only because it would be a really strong sign of support for the sport and because it would create additional attention to the Match which is already creating headlines, but also because we feel that we actually can make it happen!

    If we take all of the chess community combined, it surely will be more than a 100,000 members -- it’s millions!

    If you would like to see Fabiano Caruana at the White House before the Championship Match in November, please support and sign the petition.

    Please share it on Social Media: #CaruanaInTheWhiteHouse

    Three potential problems:

    1. It doesn't say that the petition will be granted, only that it's possible that the White House will grant it.

    2. I don't know Fabiano Caruana's politics. Maybe he wouldn't want to meet with President Trump?!

    3. With three and a half weeks to go, only 543 signatures have been received, leaving 99,457 signatures to go.

    Okay, chess fans, let's do this for Caruana and for the sake of chess. Love President Trump, hate him, whatever - it doesn't matter. We're doing it to promote the game, and to demonstrate that we chess players have some power when it comes to social media. Heck, if any of you know someone who knows someone who knows a Kardashian or some other big celebrity, we can get it done in a day or two. Norwegians: have Magnus Carlsen ask Liv Tyler to promote it. We can do it!

    (Yes, I'm being slightly tongue-in-cheek, but with or without the irony it would be fun to make this happen, and the publicity would be good for chess.)

    **UPDATE**

    Some further thoughts and comments:

    1. I think the publicity would be good for chess. Depending on how Caruana handles it, however, it might not be good for him. That's probably not how it should be - it should be fine for him to accept the honor not as coming from Donald Trump, the man, but as coming from the duly-elected President.

    2. World Chess isn't covering itself with glory in the wording of the petition. In addition to the semi-incorrect "B.Fischer" (without a space and arguably using the wrong initial(s)), I've noticed at least three factual errors in the second paragraph of the petition. ("Since 1975, when World Champion B.Fischer resigned his title, an American chess player have never had a chance to become the World Champion. In 2018, Brooklyn-born Fabiano Caruana won the Candidates Tournament and earned the right to fight for the Championship title against Magnus Carlsen in a Match in London in Nov 2018.") Impressive! Let's see who can find the three errors the fastest.

    3. As alluded to in the first update comment, and reflected in the comments so far, Trump is a polarizing figure. (To put it mildly. In fact, it's bizarre that commenters thus far find the idea of Caruana having a White House photo-op far more repugnant than they did Sergey Karjakin's running around with a pro-Putin tee shirt and making pro-Putin comments. Just for starters: Trump, for all his flaws, hasn't annexed parts - significant parts, at that - of two countries.) I generally prefer to keep politics out of the blog, even if the opinions expressed square with my own. Politics are important, but not so important that every bit of life must pass through its grinder. I'll make a bit of an exception this time, but with some restrictions. First, Trump = Hitler comments will be blocked. Don't waste your time (or mine). Second, please be respectful of and to those you disagree with. It doesn't imply that you agree with their views.

    What would be interesting is to try to determine a threshold beyond which meeting with a political figure might be inappropriate. Let's say a strong pro-life advocate is invited to the White House during the administration of a strongly pro-choice President for something having nothing to do with the invitee's politics. (Maybe it's a situation like this, or a member of a national championship-winning sports team, or a great musician or scientist.) Should the recipient turn down the invitation? Alternatively, he could go in recognition that the honor is not so much from the particular man as it is from the man as president. Or he could go, and later thank the POTUS for the honor while noting that there are nevertheless strong areas of disagreement between the two. Relatedly: should the U.S. Olympic Team have boycotted the Berlin games in 1936, or was it good for them to go and have Jesse Owens and others burst the myth of the Aryan "superman"? Was the U.S. right to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, or did it just deprive hundreds of athletes from participating in something they had worked for for most of their lives? The aim isn't to debate those particular examples, but to use them to help formulate a more interesting position than "Trump is evil, and anyone who signs the petition is a Nazi sympathizer."

    4. It wouldn't be as effective, publicity-wise, but it would still be a good thing for U.S. chess and less politically charged for Caruana to receive some sort of commendation from Congress. That sort of thing has been done before, so readers might drop their congressmen and women a note.

    5. Only 99,454 signatures to go. The more realistic question is whether the petition will even get 1,000 signatories.