The (Thanksgiving) Home Stretch

On behalf of the entire Chess^Summit community, I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving!  Remember to tell your loved ones that you’re thankful for them!  I am thankful for my parents, siblings, and friends for giving me everything I could possibly ask for in life.  I am also thankful for my two chess coaches, Mr. Tim Rogalski and Mr. Larry Christiansen, for all their time and effort to help me become the chess player I am today. Enjoy your time at home this holiday season!

In other news, the World Championship match is also in its home stretch.  It has so far been quite the ride; albeit, one that took what seemed like forever to get started.  After seven straight draws, there were two types of people:  Those who were begging for a decisive result, and those who were entertaining the idea of a never-ending match consisting of all draws.  The former had their wish granted in a roller coaster of a game in Game 8.

 

wcc_pic
Figure 1: The players prior to Game 8

 

The previous games of the match must have clearly taken their toll on Magnus at this point.  He was clearly seen laughing and in a good mood after the first few games, but as each game ended in yet another draw, he became more and more agitated.  It had hitherto reached its climax after Game 5, when Carlsen came as close as possible to losing without doing so.  Without further ado, let’s take a look at the only decisive game so far:

Karjakin – Carlsen, WCC 2016, Game 8

In this game, we saw an on-tilt Carlsen play all out for a win, simultaneously passing by multiple opportunities to force a draw.  Making such a rookie mistake ultimately cost him.  Pushing too hard and losing as a result has to be a bummer, especially in the World Championship Match.  That agony clearly carried over after the game when Carlsen stormed out of the press conference room.  While that may be deemed legal (albeit disrespectful, but still nothing consequently wrong) in a typical super-tournament, this was actually a breach in this match’s code of conduct and a penalty may be enforced.

 

wcc_rules
Figure 2: A Twitter user alertly realized the potential consequences of Carlsen’s actions

 

After this game, a couple of revolutionary thoughts to consider:

  1. Carlsen was behind in a World Championship match for the first time in his career
  2. Yes, everyone makes amateur mistakes – even the best players in the world

So, Carlsen, very much devastated, had a rest day following that game.  In the situation he was in, perhaps that was exactly not what the doctor ordered.  Either way, the tournament went on as scheduled.

In Game 9, we saw another equally bizarre game.  This time, it was Karjakin pushing for the win.  However, unlike Carlsen, Karjakin eventually realized that it was futile to play on; the extra pawn he had was not enough, due to his crippled pawn structure.  I will present the game here, although without notes since it is not the focus of the article.

Karjakin – Carlsen, WCC 2016, Game 9

After 9 rounds, the chess world is in an unprecedented situation.  Karjakin is, at most, three games away from claiming the World title and dethroning Carlsen.  Hopefully, the next few games will offer exciting play for the chess world to follow.  But, until then, thanks for reading this week’s article and see you next time!

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