2016 World Chess Championship: Game #12

Game 12: WTF?

With tension in the air at the Fulton Market Building, both Carlsen and Karjakin were preparing for a pivotal game in the match. It was, in effect, a “sudden death” match. Many anticipated an epic battle, but were shocked at the outcome. The game lasted less than an hour.

Jonathan Tisdall had a sardonic remark about today’s game…

How about this meme after the half-hour game…

…and the budding debate about competitive spirit? Nigel Short said if today’s game was a dessert, he’d send it back to the chef.

Alas! There was certainly a disappointed legion of fans including some professional players. Robert van Kampen, who did commentary for chess24.com, was disgusted.

Should the players be obligated to play exciting chess for the benefit of fans and sponsors? Technically, no. However, it brings into question the format and whether there are more appealing ways to decide on a champion. As it were, the champion will be decided with a faster time control, probably in the rapids. The question may be, “Why not have faster time controls in the first place?” The counter argument may be that such ideas do not result in the highest quality of chess.

Maurice Ashley has well-known opinions about quick draws. Photo by Maurice Ashley

Maurice Ashley has well-known opinions about quick draws.
Photo by Maurice Ashley

GM Maurice Ashley told The Chess Drum of his frustration with the current system and believe that a faster format is not only desirable, but inevitable. He opines that such long-play matches fail because there are only two players and long lulls between action whereas in a FIDE knockout, you have as many as 128 players starting. Thus, it is viewer-friendly. It doesn’t fix the problem since you still end up with two players. However, it presents a suspenseful build-up. Another question would be whether chess should have a “World Champion.” Tennis doesn’t have one and nor does golf.

Ashley posed the question, “Which sport gets more boring as you reach the end?” Of course he was getting at the drawing “out” that chess players can opt for if they do not want to play to the end. It’s an argument he has made since 2003 when he suggested there be no draw offers at all. This does not prevent the three-fold repetition draw, but it dramatically reduces quick, anti-competitive draws and encourages fighting chess. IM Greg Shahade has similar views about formats here and here.

Caruana speaks on Carlsen's white game. Photo by World Chess

Caruana feels Carlsen should have pressed more with his white game.
Photo by World Chess.

In defense of Carlsen and Karjakin, the last game featured a number of errors brought on by tremendous tension and perhaps a bit of fatigue (Carlsen mentioned this after Game #10). Both played a high-quality Game #11. In fact, it may be where all the energy was expended. Many are complaining about the Sunday rest day, but it appears that despite the rest days, the players are not in shape to handle the constant tension.

So… they took the day off to save fuel. This is the result.

Game Broadcast (Game #12)

Video by chess24

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

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