Good Morning, campers! Welcome to Campfire Chess Digest for Friday, December 10, 2021! The World Chess Championship 2021 is still underway and it has certainly had a share of ups and downs, breathtaking and disappointing moments. There’s still much more chess to come before the year is done!
Here’s some of the best chess action we’ve seen this week:
Magnus Carlsen is…once again…World Chess Champion
https://www.chess.com/news/view/fide-world-chess-championship-2021-game-11 Magnus Carlsen cruised to defend his World Championship title for the fifth time this week against Ian Nepomniachtchi. It was one of the most lopsided and unusual championships I can recall. Ian just couldn’t capitalize on several opportunities presented to him by Magnus. And for another two years, Norway is king of world chess.
A World Record at the World Chess Championship
https://en.chessbase.com/post/world-championship-2021-g6 Magnus Carlsen came out on top of an incredible 136 move game that set a world record for the longest chess game played in a world championship. The previous title was held by Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi in the 1978 World Chess Championship.
A Century of Chess: Karlsbad 1907
https://www.chess.com/blog/kahns/a-century-of-chess-karlsbad-1907 Long before the Soviet Empire dominated the professional chess world, the German Empire’s elite held firmly to the title of the world’s best chess players. This exceptional article from Chess.com (a rarity these days) explores Akiba Rubinstine’s rise to prominence in the early part of the twentieth century.
Good Morning, campers! Welcome to Campfire Chess Digest for Friday, December 3, 2021! As you read this, the 2021 World Chess Championship rages (if you can call it that) in Dubai between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi. There’s no clear leader at this point but Nepo certainly put Magnus on the ropes a few times going into Thursday’s rest day.
Here’s some of the best chess action we’ve seen this week:
https://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-coms-holiday-gift-buying-guide Ten ways to mate your opponent in five moves… Ten streamers you wouldn’t want to play blitz with… and the list goes on and on. Maybe we could start making a list of Chess.com’s most click-baity articles. In any case, this year’s “Buying Guide” for the holidays is no better than the website’s recent forays into Bitcoin, PogChamps, and other nonsensical stuff.
The World Chess Championship 2021 continues today in Dubai live via Chess24’s YouTube channel. Chess.com has a stream with GMs Hess and Caruana, but I recommend the Chess24 stream as its less headache-inducing.
It’s upon us! The great day of judgment where two of the world’s best chess players will meet to do battle for the title of World Chess Champion. GM Magnus Carlsen has held this title 2013 after defeating legendary Indian GM Viswanathan Anand. Since then, he has defended his title against Anand, GM Sergey Karjakin (2016) and GM Fabiano Caruana (2018). This year, he will face Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi in Dubai.
As of this entry, the official website from FIDE has not launched, but the schedule of events has been released.
24 November: Opening Ceremony
25 November: Off day
26 November: Game 1
27 November: Game 2
28 November: Game 3
29 November: Off day
30 November: Game 4
1 December: Game 5
2 December: Off day
3 December: Game 6
4 December: Game 7
5 December: Game 8
6 December: Off day
7 December: Game 9
8 December: Game 10
9 December: Off day
10 December: Game 11
11 December: Game 12
12 December: Game 13
13 December: Off day
14 December: Game 14
15 December: Tie break (or Closing Ceremony)
16 December: Closing Ceremony
Live coverage of the event will be available on Chess24 and Chess.com. For additional details on the event itself, visit FIDE’s official press release on the World Chess Championship and Expo 2020 Dubai.
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.