After struggling a bit in the early rounds, Magnus Carlsen has emerged victorious in the FTX Crypto Cup online tournament. Overall, it was an exciting tournament to follow with many twists and turns. The initial round was filled with close scores and a large number of ties among the players. This eventually whittled down to four players who faced each other over the last two days for a share of the tournament prize. Wesley So battled it out against Magnus in a series of rapid events which ended in a tie between the players. This prompted a blitz playoff that was filled with some interesting and nail biting moments.
Throughout the past couple of days it was apparent that Magnus was struggling with a lack of motivation or from an illness that kept his performance below what we’ve come to expect from the world champion. He even went as far as to mention that he felt like shit during a postgame interview with Chess24 yesterday, which contributed to some of his mistakes on the board. In any case, Carlsen took the crown for this event and took home a $60,000 chunk of the prize fund and 0.6 bitcoin (about $22,000 as of this posting).
For an exceptional analysis of the games in the final matchups, check out this video from Gotham Chess:
Carlsen and many of the familiar GMs on this circuit will reunite on June 26th for the 2021 Grand Prix.
In trying to get back into chess regularly, I’ve spent my days at work with the Chess.com streaming broadcast of the FTX Crypto Cup. The games in this tournament so far have ranged from inspiring to head scratching. The roster itself is a who’s who of the best in chess from around the world. Carlsen, Nakamura, So, Giri, and Caruana are just some of the big names rounding out this Champions Chess Tour event. Each player is competing for a chance to participate in the tour’s finale starting on September 25th.
The preliminary round of the FTX Crypto Cup was quite an experience. Magnus Carlsen struggled through much of the round while Fabiano Caruana, who made it a point to tell everyone that he hadn’t played a game of online chess all year, absolutely dominated with a score of 10/15! Carlsen eventually managed to squeak by with a score of 8.5.
The projected Semifinals pairings are Carlsen-Radjabov and Nepomniachtchi-So. I was originally cheering for Nakamura or Caruana but since they’ve been eliminated from the tournament, my money’s on Carlsen.
The Quarter Finals began on May 26th and lasted for two days. Carlsen and Nakamura traded blows back and forth but it was ultimately Magnus that will advance to the Semifinals, which begin later today.
You can watch the games with commentary on ChessTV or the official broadcast on Chess24.
GM Fabiano Caruana, who is currently ranked #3 in the world, won the 2018 Candidates Tournament in Berlin against GM Alexander Grischuk in the 14th round. Caruana held the lead for most of the tournament but found himself fighting back against victories by GMs Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Fortunately, the young American held off and emerged victorious in the final round. Caruana will go on to face GM Magnus Carlsen in November in London for the World Chess Championship title.
2018 Candidates Tournament Games
For your reference, this is the first time that an American has played in the World Chess Championship since Bobby Fischer beat Petrosian in 1971.
The Simpsons is in its 28th season (premiered in 1989) and despite being written off by passing social fads like Family Guy has remained a staple of American culture for longer than many of its fans have been alive. Throughout its run, the show has hosted countless cultural crossovers including KISS, President Donald Trump, and many other celebrities that have brought the show a consistently refreshing take on the state of the world. This past Sunday, the show put chess at its center for the first time in its long history with an episode dedicated to exploring a complex and relatively unknown part of Homer Simpson’s backstory. To help him through the challenges of that backstory was the Norwegian World Champion himself: Magnus Carlsen!
I will not spoil the entire episode in case you have not seen it, but suffice to say that it is worth taking the time to watch! There are the usual missteps like chess boards being set up incorrectly, but there is also a great deal of attention to detail in the episode such as real-life positions on the boards and enough club-level chess talk to please even the most discriminating chess geek!
Moe’s Tavern taken by chess fever! (Image Credit: Fox)
For me, one of the best moments of the night came from the image above where Moe’s Tavern became the social hub dedicated to watching the episode’s final match. The creators truly captured the atmosphere of chess fans following the game in a way that was funny yet reverent in a way that only The Simpsons could achieve. If you have not seen the episode, you might qualify to watch it here depending on your cable provider.
Magnus Carlsen put the final nail in the coffin for the 2016 World Chess Championship with a spectacular finish in the 25 | 10 rapid tiebreaker. Carlsen had been frustrated throughout the event and fell behind before managing to equalize the standings in Game 10. He went on to win the last two games of the rapid event, which finally put an end to his challengers efforts and solidified his place as World Chess Champion for the next two years. As the main portion of the event drew to its conclusion, many in the chess world began taking note of the precarious position Sergey Karjakin could find himself in against one of the strongest rapid and blitz players in the world.
The first two tiebreaker games were drawn with Karjakin narrowly escaping a loss in the second game but unable to stop the onslaught that ultimately allowed Carlsen to retain his title.
Carlsen’s incredible finish to the rapid tiebreaker event.
The position above is stunning and reaffirms why Magnus Carlsen is the best chess player in the world. With Qh6+, Magnus brought his opponent’s bid to become the next world champion to his stunning halt. There were moments throughout the event where it seemed that Sergey Karjakin was poised to overtake Carlsen, but never found a way to convert his opportunities into solid wins. Of course, there were moments throughout the event were Magnus seemed to struggle both with his chess abilities and his ability to keep his emotions in check (no pun intended). Magnus took a little bit of criticism on social media for his outburst following his loss in the classical round, but I have to say that him storming out of the press conference is the kind of stuff that chess needs if it wants to become a popular, respectable, and marketable activity in the United States.
Agon, which has become a four letter word In the chess community has refused to release (at least for now) the exact number of people who purchased their premium package for viewing the event, but initial estimates project that less than 10,000 people paid for the premium streaming and commentary package. Personally, I was pleased to be able to follow the games as a premium member of Chessbase, on ChessBomb, and to watch the exceptional commentary and analysis from some of my favorite people over on chess24.com. Still, just a long way to go if it wants to build an American audience to the point where corporations like Pepsi, Red Bull, or other major corporations are willing to sponsor the events. As mentioned in an excellent news article published shortly after Carlsen’s victory, chess needs a series of dramatic stories in order to sell itself to the American people. Bobby Fischer made history as the lone genius who challenged the world’s greatest chess power, the Soviet Union, during the Cold War which allowed the American people to relate what was happening on the board to what was happening every day in their news. When professional chess can find a way to bring the drama and excitement of playing the game to people in a way that relates to their everyday struggles and experiences, then it will find itself at a buffet of sponsors and fans. Compelling drama and personal connection sells products, not frivolous litigation.
The World Chess Championship ended its standard round series yesterday with a whimper as Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin drew the final game after a mere 30 moves.
So, what happens now? As Magnus celebrates his birthday on Wednesday, he will face Karjakin in a series of rapid and blitz games to determine who will be the overall champion. For those games, the will be four rapid games at 25 | 10 with blitz games scheduled if the rapid games end in a tie. In the unlikely event that all of those games are tied then there will be a 5 minute for white, 4 minute for black game where the winner will take all.
The 2016 World Chess Championship in New York City has been nothing short of a nail biter and will at least come down to determination in the final round scheduled to be played Monday at 1400 EST. Games 7 and 8 offered some tense moments in which Magnus missed opportunities to turn the tide of the tournament against his opponent. However, his over aggressiveness prevented him from capitalizing on these positions as he would normally be able to.
But everything changed in Game 8 when that over aggressiveness finally backfired and awarded a powerful win to challenger Sergey Karjakin.
Some believed that Magnus would be unable to recover from the loss but managed to pull out a win shortly thereafter in Game 10 to even things up.
The tournament remains tied and goes into Monday’s final round with the very real possibility of a rapid or blitz playoff being needed to decide the overall winner.
All eyes are on New York City as Magnus Carlsen defends his World Chess Champion title against Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin. Carlsen is the heavy favorite to win the tournament but if the first few games are any indication of what to expect from the whole tournament, we might be in for a long ride. As the name of the post suggests, its too early to draw any conclusions from these games, but there are many conclusions in these games that end in draws…
Game 3: Bending Space and Time
Hopes were high after the first two games that there would be some dramatics appearing in the third game and they came…in a sense. Reminding players, commentators, and fans alike that chess requires mental and physical resilience, the players battled it out in a 7-hour, 78-move nightmare that ended…you guessed it..in a draw.
Game 4: Drawing Up A New Strategy?
After the marathon of Game 3, I was very impressed that the players were able to squeeze out the next game, which went 94 moves before ending in another draw. It was apparent in this game, however, that Magnus was becoming frustrated with Karjakin and that a draw was certainly not on his list of game ideas for the day.
Game 5: Drawn of the Dead
Game 5 was played earlier today and felt like a blitz game at times. The moves were fast in some areas deep into the position with Magnus finding himself in trouble against his challenger for the first time in the match. There were certain moments in the game when Karjakin had clear advantage on the board, but Magnus was able to bring these situations back into balance and force a draw on move 51.
The showdown for the title of World Chess Champion between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin is tied at 1 point each after rounds one and two ended in a draw. Carlsen drew white for Game One and opened with a homage to recently elected President of the United States Donald Trump with a combination called the Trompowsky Attack, which some have re-branded as the Trumpowsky Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5). An unusual opening at this level of play, the response from Karjakin neutralized the attack and led to a draw between the two.
Game One also had its share of American celebrities on hand as Actor Woody Harrelson made the ceremonial first move to begin the match.
Woody Harrelson makes the first move in Game One! (Credit: FIDE)
Game Two had some interesting twists and turns throughout, with Chess24 demonstrating throughout why it is a revolutionary medium for watching high-level games. Guest commentary by various Grandmasters and assertions that Game Two was boring led to some interesting and entertaining social media exchanges.
Often one of the best indicators that a chess game is interesting is that amateurs think it isn't! https://t.co/cfjVfsDe09