Did GM Richard Rapport Go Into The Tank?

‘Back in the day’ there were Candidates matches played leading up to the World Chess Championship. Young people regularly hear some old coot say, “Things were better back in the day.” I was once young, and have now grown old. The fact is that some things may have been better ‘back in the day’ and some were most definitely not “better.” As in most things in life, it depends on one’s perspective. That said, playing matches in lieu of playing a tournament to choose an adversary for the current World Champion was much better than the tournaments played today. The ongoing Candidates tournament is a prime example.

The following was taken from Chessdom: In the post-game interview with WGM Dina Belenkaya, Richard couldn’t explain what was the factor to make him refuse the draw and play on: “I don’t know. I should probably throw away my computer. Because I am pretty sure the line is 14…Bd6 instead of 14…Bh3, and then 15.Qxh7 Bh3 is a draw, so I figured I should be better here…“

“I got really upset about this that I played on, no one knows for what reason exactly. And position clearly seems dangerous. And also many other small things which were not going maybe before the game already. So clearly, it was extremely stupid for me to play on, regardless what is the evaluation of the position.” added Richard. (https://www.chessdom.com/rapport-on-the-r7-game-vs-nepo-i-should-probably-throw-away-my-computer/

What does Richard Rapport mean by, “…no one knows for what reason exactly.”? What about, “And also many other small things which were not going maybe before the game already.” The question must be asked, “Did Richard Rapport receive any inducement to lose the game intentionally, or were any threats made to him or any member of his family causing him to intentionally lose the game?

“Determining the ethics of intentionally losing a game to gain something greater in the future—known as “tanking” or “throwing the game”—seems like a no-brainer in that the practice is just wrong. Though…deciphering the logic of this conclusion actually does require the use of a brain as it’s not immediately obvious. Yet…a handful of commentators defend it, viewing it as just another example of good strategy, listing other commonly accepted strategies in defense of the practice.” (htps://law.scu.edu/sports-law/intentionally-losing-part-i-of-iii-ethical-considerations/)

Let us be honest here, the fact is that everyone involved with Chess knows the nefarious Russians will go to any lengths to recover what they consider “their” World Chess Championship title. FIDE is controlled by a Russian, Arkady Dvorkovich,

https://www.chess.com/news/view/dvorkovich-in-tight-spot-as-fide-president

who does what he is told by the Mad Vlad Putin.

https://nypost.com/2022/02/24/not-peter-the-great-hes-vlad-the-mad/

They know that if World Champion Magnus Carlsen

https://hiokori.substack.com/p/raising-your-floor-notes-from-magnus

refuses to again face Ian Nepomniachtchi the title will, once again, be held by a Russian.

Rapport-Nepomniachtchi left everyone, including Richard, puzzled | photo: Steve Bonhage, FIDE (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/madrid-candidates-7-nepo-caruana-win-again)

In the article, Cracking the Candidate Code (3) by ChessBase, it is written:

https://en.chessbase.com/post/cracking-the-candidate-code-3

“It is highly motivated and prepared players who win these events. Rapport may be motivated, but it is unlikely that he will be well-prepared. With events lined up he won’t have the time to prepare properly – he agreed to play in Norway, a tournament that finishes a mere six days before the start of the Candidates. Playing Carlsen and co. before an exhausting 14-round Candidates is not quite the best practice. Playing in Romania at the Superbet Classic wasn’t a success either, as his final score of minus two (both losses with White due to big blunders) placed him at shared-last.

Rapport’s second issue is that he is a self-confessed loner. He likes to work alone and finds it difficult to work with others. What he has achieved alone is incredible, but in order to climb the highest mountain players need teams – like it or not, the days of Fischeresque feats of ‘one against the world’ are gone and unlikely to return. Every single player who has qualified for a World Championship match has had a team that has supported him all the way. It would really be great to see Rapport find a support system to help him reach his full potential, but it seems that this won’t happen for Madrid, which is a pity, as I would have really fancied to see the best he can offer.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/cracking-the-candidate-code-3)

After reading the above would you have wagered anything that this player would win the Candidates tournament? It is more than a little obvious Richard Rapport was not ready for prime time and should not have been included in the event. For the rest of his life the question of his “going into the tank” will haunt Richard Rapport.

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