Rapid is the Future of Chess

The first game of rapid Chess of the 2018 World Human Chess Championship was the first rapid game of any world championship I have ever watched. It was thrilling and exciting, something sorely lacking in the classical part of the WHCC. Rapid is perfect for current Chess fans. It is certainly perfect for Magnus Carlsen, the undisputed Rapid Champion of the Chess World.

When it comes to so-called Classical Chess and Magnus I am reminded of the famous quote by many time World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik,

who said he was, “First among equals.” Magnus did not best Fabiano Caruana in the twelve games of Classical Chess, therefore, Fabiano should have earned another shot at the Champ.

After the game concluded I stretched out, putting a dark tee shirt over my eyes to rest before the second game. I was not down long before getting up to make my second cup of coffee of the day. It was shocking to see the second game had already started. I do not know how much time there was between games but it obviously was not enough, especially for Fabiano Caruana.

I do not know how much time a player needs to gather himself after a loss but certainly there should be at least forty-five minutes before the next game begins, maybe an hour.

While resting my eyes I reflected upon the weekend tournaments at the House of Pain, aka the Atlanta Chess & (What Other?) Game Center. I envisioned a weekend tournament consisting of ten Rapid games. Each round would consist of two games between the same opponents, with each playing white and black. The first could begin at ten am Saturday morning. Game two would begin at eleven thirty. Round two would begin at one pm, with the second game of round two beginning at two thirty. Round three would begin at four pm and the second and final game of the day would begin at five thirty. The first day would end around six thirty.

Round four would begin Sunday morning at ten am, just as the previous day. After the second game of the fourth round beginning at eleven thirty the next, and final, round could begin thirty minutes later than the previous day, at one thirty pm. The last game of the day would then begin at three pm. The tournament would end around four pm.

A total of ten games of Chess could be played over the weekend, which should be enough Chess for anyone. I must point out that playing an even number of games would mean each player would have the white pieces the same number as every other player. I recall one of the stronger players in Atlanta when I was beginning to play tournament Chess, Tom Pate, withdrawing and leaving before the fifth round when he was assigned black. Tom, a 1900+ rated player, was upset because he had previously drawn the black pieces in several (I cannot recall the exact number) tournaments. Come to think of it that may have been the last time Tom played Chess…The Rapid format would obviate that possibility.

A senior tournament could eliminate the third round, allowing for more time between rounds. For example, the second round could begin at two pm, allowing more time for a decent lunch and maybe some camaraderie, one of the best things about a Senior tournament.

The Chess must adapt to changing circumstances. Rapid games may not completely eliminate cheating, but will certainly make it much more difficult for players to consult a device containing a 3500 rated Chess program. In addition, moving to a Rapid format would eliminate one half point byes and the dreaded Zombie attack of re-entries. As Captain Jean-Luc Picard was so fond of saying:

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A Must Win Situation

It is a half hour before the start of the quick play part of the 2018 World Human Chess Championship and I have just finished reading the article, Kramnik: “Magnus needs to get rid of this fear of losing the title” at Chessbase.(https://en.chessbase.com/post/kramnik-on-the-2018-world-championship-match)

I have yet to watch any quick play games in any previous World Human Chess Championship but have decided to watch today. If one is fortunate enough to become old the realization hits that this could be the last World Human Chess Championship. In addition, there is the fact that I have devoted much time the past couple of weeks to watching the mostly moribund games and have a desire to see the conclusion.

What I would like you to consider is, what if there were no quick play tie breaks? What if the challenger had to beat the champion in order to take the champs title? Obviously Fabiano Caruana would have been forced to decline Magnus Carlsen’s offer of a draw in the final game as a draw would have been the same as a loss as far as the match was concerned.

In addition, what if there had been a rule that in the event of all games in the regulation period of the match ending in a draw the games would continue until one player won a game?

Just asking…

The Magic Bus to the 2018 World Human Chess Championship

Because the World Human World Championship has been, for the most part, sort of boring I have spent a considerable amount of time watching the games of the concurrent World Senior tournament. While so doing I have listened to some of the patter from Yaz, Maurice, and Jen,

in the event some kind of action breaks out on the board between Maggie and Fabi. Although there were a few games worth following, the fact is that much of the time has been spent with special guests whom drone on and on until I simply can no longer stand it and I turn off the sound.

During one of the obviously much needed breaks for the human commentators filmed “fireside chats” have filled the time, and they have been much appreciated because they have been far more interesting than the non action filled WHCC. I have lived through much of the history that was discussed but still found it interesting, while thinking how wonderful it must be for younger Chess fans who know little, if anything, about the history of the Royal game.

During one segment the topic was Magnus Carlsen and I believe it was Yasser and Maurice discussing the performance of Magnus in one of the Sinquefield Cups. I believe it was Yasser who mentioned a last round game in which Levon Aronian offered Magnus a draw which would win the tournament for Carlsen. Magnus refused the offer and that made a huge impression on Yasser. I seem to recall Yaz saying something about it telling him what kind of player was Mr. Carlsen.

What happened to that Magnus Carlsen? Who is the imposter taking his place in this World Championship?

Reading some of the comments Magnus made before the tournament, such as lamenting the fact he does not have the energy he had a few years ago, caused me to wonder if Magnus is simply burned out and needs to take a long break from the game. His play over the past twelve games reminded me of something heard when young. “Listen to what a man says, but watch what he does,” my Mother was fond of saying.

Magnus has been playing “tired” Chess for some time now. Maurice mentioned the fact that when it came time for Magnus to “dig deeply into the position,” Magnus was taking only a few minutes before producing a move. There is always a reason this happens to any Chess player. We can only speculate until Magnus produces the reason for his inability to concentrate and “grind.” A short time ago Magnus was known as the ultimate “grinder” because he was willing to sit for hour after hour grinding out a win from a small advantage. In the last real game of the current world championship match Magnus was incapable of grinding out a won game.

I spent an inordinate amount of time today reading, watching and listening, to commentary about game twelve.

After the players were interviewed by GM Daniel King,

and answered questions from reporters, the strongest female Chess player of all time, Judit Polgar,

said this to her co-host Anna Rudolf

about eighteen minutes into the film below. “In his (Magnus Carsen) head he was not ready to win today’s game. He just wanted to move on to the playoffs and I think it can cost him the crown because this mistake will maybe will not be forgiven to him. That he did not try/ He did not want it anymore to win in classical game because this shows something we’ve never seen before by Magnus, and it’s not a good sign necessarily.”

Decades ago a young female Chess player to whom I had given lessons, Alison Bert, was about to battle a legendary Georgia player. She came to me and asked, “Who will win?” I thought for a few moments because at that time I considered the man a friend. The reply was, “The one who wants it the most.” She walked to the board with a purpose and beat that man down.

Magnus Carlsen is a great Chess player, one of the best of all time. The Magnus who is playing in this match is a shadow of the younger Magnus, and Carlsen has said as much recently. Yet Fabiano Caruana was unable to beat an obviously weakened Magnus Carlsen once. That fact attests to just how great is Magnus Carlsen.

Fabiano Caruana showed nervousness in the first game but Magnus was unable to finish him off. The same thing happened in the last game of the real match, the so-called “classical” games. The World Human Chess Championship is there for Caruana’s taking. To take the title he must want it more than Magnus.

Every day I get in the queue (Too much, Magic Bus)
To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, Magic Bus)
I’m so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, Magic Bus)
Your house is only another mile (Too much, Magic Bus)
Thank you, driver, for getting me here (Too much, Magic Bus)
You’ll be an inspector, have no fear (Too much, Magic Bus)
I don’t want to cause no fuss (Too much, Magic Bus)
But can I buy your Magic Bus? (Too much, Magic Bus)
Nooooooooo!
I don’t care how much I pay (Too much, Magic Bus)
I want to drive my bus to my baby each day (Too much, Magic Bus)
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it … (You can’t have it!)
Thruppence and sixpence every day
Just to drive to my baby
Thruppence and sixpence each day
Because I drive my baby every way
Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus
I said, now I’ve got my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)
I said, now I’ve got my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)
I drive my baby every way (Too much, Magic Bus)
Each time I go a different way (Too much, Magic Bus)
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it

[Outro]
Every day you’ll see the dust (Too much, Magic Bus)
As I drive my baby in my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)

Fabiano Caruana’s Biorhythm Advantage

This is the biorhythm chart for the World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen for November 26, 2018, the day of game number twelve, the last game of the so called “classical” part of the match for his crown:

Because Magnus was having a physical critical day, transferring from a high phase to a low phase, the worse possible day of each month physically (invariably much worse than a physical critical day going from low to high), it was a bad day. When one considers the fact that Magnus was coming off of his floor intellectually it made for a terrible day.

The challenger, Fabiano Caruana:

It is usually a good day when one is in the high phase in all three categories, as was Fabi.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, November 28, 2018 when the hurry up and get it over games are played we find this chart for the World Human Champ:

Physically and intellectually low while high emotionally is not a good chart for anyone at any time.

Now let us look at the chart of the challenger:

Fabiano will be in a triple high phase, which is usually makes for a very good day.

Biorhythmically speaking it will be a HUGE advantage for the challenger. Because of the biorhythm advantage, Fabiano Caruana will become the new World Human Chess Champion. You heard it here first.

Pawns are the Rubber Soul of the World Human Chess Championship

‘Pawns are the soul of chess’ wrote François-André Danican Philidor;

or did he? According to Edward Winter, Philidor wrote something to that effect. It is now commonly accepted in the English speaking Chess world as what François-André meant. (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/philidor.html)

The eighth game of the ongoing World Human Chess Championship reached this position with the current champion, Magnus Carsen

of Norway, to move:

The champ moved his bishop from e7 to d6 in order to institute a blockade of the passed white d pawn. This is all according to the rules of Chess every chess player learns when beginning to play the game. This position was reached:

It is now the challenger, Fabiano Caruana,

to move. When little Fabi was learning how to play the Royal game one of his first teachers, such as Bruce Pandolfini,

certainly taught Caruana about eliminating a blockading minor piece especially if the piece taking its place is the Queen because the Queen is the very worst piece to maintain a blockade. Any Chess teacher seeing this position from a student would explain this Chess principle while hoping the student would then see the obvious move Nbc4.

Unfortunately for Fabi fans this was not played…Caruana played 24 h3:

Say it ain’t so, Fab!

If a Chess teacher were reviewing a game and the student produced the move h3 the teacher would patiently explain the Chess axiom about never moving a pawn in front of the King when under attack.

In the tenth game of the WHCC Caruana again sat behind the white pieces and after Carlsen played 23…Qg5, a vacillating move, this position was reached:

Fabiano Caruana produced the move 24 g3. Current US Chess Champion Sam Shankland

annotated the game for Chessbase. After 23…Qg5 Sam writes, “Technically, this move loses the game against best play, but it comes with a very nasty idea of playing Rf6-h6 and delivering mate on the h-file. A machine with its nerves of steel would have no trouble grabbing h5, but for a human, it looks absurdly dangerous.”

After 24 g3 Sam writes, “Caruana’s move makes a lot of sense. Taking on f4 and bringing the rook to g3 should dispel any mating dreams.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/world-championship-2018-game-10)

Does this sound like an objective comment to the reader? The best Chess players on the planet at the moment are called “engines,” and all of the “engines” consider 24 g3 a mistake. What makes Sam’s comment strange is that he has written a book recently about how to “Master Pawn Play in Chess.”

Fabiano Caruana is one of the two best human Chess players on the planet at the moment. Only he can explain why he unnecessarily moved his pawns in the two critical games.

Not to be outdone, the human champion of the world reached this position sitting behind the white pieces:

and decided to jettison his h-pawn by moving it forward one square. I kid you not. The challenger accepted the Norwegian gift with alacrity and managed to draw the game.

How The Main Stream Media Views Chess

GM Kevin Spraggett

continues to lament the fact that the “Main Street Media” does not give the Royal Game decent coverage.

“With two World Championships going on as well as a number of elite tournaments, you would think that there would be a good chance of getting some pretty decent chess coverage in MSM.

Think again. MSM is generally wary of chess and more often than not reports on it only if someone was murdered, kidnapped by aliens or when the MSM can put a useable spin on it.”
http://www.spraggettonchess.com/friday-coffee-21/

The question that should be asked is, “Why should the MSM give any coverage to Chess?” As I have written previously the general public tuned out and turned off Chess when World Human Chess Champion Garry Kasparov


Kasparov showing the blues after losing to Deep Blue

took a dive when losing to the IBM computer program known as Deep Blue. After that debacle of one small step for man and one giant leap for machine all of the news made by the Chess world continued to be negative. The president of the world Chess organization FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov,


Vladimir Putin with minion Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

was a one man wrecking crew of negative publicity for Chess for DECADES. The fact that Chess garners any publicity at all from the MSM is remarkable.

You do not get any more main stream than the media giant known as the New York Times. From todaze article:

Checkmate or Stalemate? Carlsen and Caruana Draw Again

By Victor Mather

Nov. 19, 2018

“Like tick-tack-toe, five-day cricket matches and Italian soccer in the 1980s, chess has a lot of draws. But the two grandmasters currently battling for the world title in London, Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, may be taking it a little too far.

Eight of the 12 games in their world championship match are over. And every one of them, including Monday’s Game 8, has ended in a draw.”

That was how the article began. This is how it ends:

“Ah, yes, the tiebreaker. Monday’s draw leaves four games to go in this year’s match. If no one wins any of them, the players will begin an arduous run of tiebreakers on Nov. 28 in the hopes that someone will actually win a game.

First, the players will face off in four games with a rapid time limit of only 25 minutes per player.

Four more draws? They will next play up to 10 more games at the blinding pace of only five minutes per player — so-called blitz games.

Still drawing? It’s time for an Armageddon game. In it, Carlsen and Caruana would play a single game: Whoever draws white — and goes first — will get five minutes, while black will get four.

If this game, too, is a draw, then the organizers will simply throw up their hands and declare black the winner of the match.

Really.”

Listen up, Chess pooh-bahs! This writer concurs with what I have written for many years. He is laughing at Chess because he knows what a JOKE is the way a CHAMPIONSHIP has been and continues to be determined. REALLY!

Halftime at the World Human Chess Championship

The sixth game of the 2018 World Human Chess Championship was drawn, as were the first five games.

There are multiple reasons all games have been drawn. The format of only twelve games lends itself to many drawn games. When Bobby Fischer

defeated Boris Spassky in 1972 the World Chess Championship was comprised of twenty four games. A player could lose a game, or two, as did Fischer to begin the match, and still have time to mount a comeback. In a much shorter match the combatants know one decisive game could be all she wrote. In addition, the players are evenly matched. One would expect extremely close games between the two best human players in the world. Then there is the fact that human players are much stronger and better than their predecessors. As Chess players improve there will be more draws, unless there are changes to the rules.

In the recent 2nd Du Te Cup 2018 played in Shenzhen, China 4th to 11th November 2018, six of the top Grandmasters in the World, rated between 2709 and 2816, played an eight round double round robin in which a total of twenty four games were played, only five of which ended in victory, and each was a win for the player with the white pieces. The first win did not come until the fifth round.

The recent TCEC computer program World Chess Championship is a possible indication of what could happen in future human tournaments and matches. Stockfish and Komodo played one hundred games; only twenty one were decisive. Stockfish won thirteen games with white; Komodo won five, for a total winning percentage of eighteen percent for white. Playing black Stockfish won only two games, while Komodo won only one. Only three percent of the games played ended in victory for the black pieces. Seventy nine percent of the games played by the two 3500 rated programs were drawn.

FiveThirtyEight

It was my intention to write something about the revelatory Chess articles being written at the website of ABC News, FiveThirtyEight (https://fivethirtyeight.com/), which has been on my radar because of the excellent articles written about Major League Baseball. I first surfed over to FiveThirtyEight to read an article mentioned on another Baseball website and soon was surfing there every day, and not only because of the MLB atricles.

Mark Weeks over at Chess For All Ages beat me to the punch, so to speak, with his post Chess@538, dated 15 November, 2018 (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2018/11/chess-538com.html). It is an excellent post which culminates with:

“The resulting brouhaha convinced one respected chess journalist, GM Ian Rogers of Australia, to resign his job working with the American team: @GMIanRogers: Sadly parting ways with @ChessLifeOnline after a decade… (twitter.com):-

…I declined to accept edits to my round 4 World Ch’p report which would downplay responsibility of editors of the Caruana video, downplay the effect of the video on Caruana’s chances, and omit the key image from the video.

On top of that, all of the videos produced by the St.Louis Chess Club disappeared from Youtube. Out of sight, out of mind? Hardly. Someone in St.Louis is guilty of an unprofessional lapse of judgement. That’s the person who should resign — not a journalist doing the job he was paid to do.”

I must concur conclusively with Mark’s astute assessment of the situation. Who is guilty in St. Louis? Inquiring minds want to know…

In the latest column by Oliver Roeder, Chess World Rattled As Someone Nearly Wins Game, it is written, “Chess players are second only to maybe biological taxonomists in their proclivity to elaborately name things, and sure enough even this rare position has its own proper name: the Karklins-Martinovsky Variation. But neither player was troubled by Karklins-Martinovsky, they said after the game. Its theory is well known to these elite players.

And so they played on. The powerful queens came off the board by move 8, but this loss took no edge off the fight. For a while, the game looked less like a battle and more like a dressage competition, as 66 percent or more of each player’s first 12 moves were knight moves.”

The following paragraph can be found in the November 16 post by Mr. Roeder:

“The data scientist Randal Olson analyzed hundreds of thousands of chess games in an article a few years ago. The closer players are in rating, he found, the longer games tend to go. And as the players get better, draws become far more common. Carlsen and Caruana are as good — and about as close in rating — as you can get. Indeed, they are even beyond the scope of Olson’s chart below, with Elo ratings (which measure the strength of players given the opponents they’ve played) north of 2800.”

I clicked on the link provided and was sent to a column written May 24, 2014, by Randal S. Olsen. There is a fantastic picture of Bobby Fischer playing Mikhail Tal, which I saved. It was worth clicking on just to see the picture.

Then I went to Mr. Olsen’s home page (http://www.randalolson.com/) and found this: “Does batting order matter in Major League Baseball? A simulation approach”

Good thing today is an off day in the WHCC.