Can I just say – for those of you who have seen me recently, for the billionth time – how incredibly excited I am that the World Chess Championships are being held in New York City this year? That’s only like, what three to four hours of travel from Swarthmore? Okay, I’m going to be completely honest – those hours of travel are not exactly the most exciting things ever, but perhaps – just perhaps – I’ll finally meet Magnus Carlsen.
Alright, enough of the fan-girling. But then again, how often is the World Championships of something you’re passionate about only a train and bus ride (add some possible subway travel) away? I’m just going to guess and say that the answer is rarely, if it even happens.
So what’s so fascinating about this World Championship? For one, the World Chess Championships have not been held in the US for about 21 years now – the last players being Kasparov and Anand. The return of a tournament of this caliber to the US speaks to how much chess has advanced in recent years in the US.
The average age of the two players is 25.5 (quite literally, Carlsen is 25 while Karjakin is 26). Having such young competitors at the very top I think shows a great image to other people about the game of chess: that through hard work, age doesn’t matter. Personally, I also feel as though having these two men compete here can really further boost the recent surge of interest in the game of chess throughout America. At the very least, it gives me a very relatable reason to keep talking about chess.
So far in the four games that have been played, there have been four draws. Now, from my scans over various chess and regular news outlets, I felt like Carlsen has been the favorite for the championship but these games show that Karjakin is most definitely deserving of sitting in that chair across Carlsen and will be giving him a run for his money.
One thing I would like to point out before allowing all of you to go back to following the championship – keep a close eye out for any new or interesting openings played. I actually picked up a refutation against a line I absolutely abhorred playing against during the match between Anand and Carlsen. Even if it’s not a line you play, the openings that either Carlsen or Karjakin ultimately decide to play will most definitely be impacting the choices of the rest of the chess community as well so it can’t be a bad thing to be aware of these possible new novelties.