Holborn, London, England (November 9th-28th)
2018 World Chess Championship: Game 4
Tuesday, 13 November 2018
“Screen Gate” dominates match news
The main story of the fourth game of the Carlsen-Caruana match was not the 34-move draw, that occurred, but a video floating around the Internet showing the “secret” preparation of Team Caruana. The video was created by the St. Louis Chess Club for “Today in Chess” program and showed Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Alejandro Ramirez going over materials in preparation for the match.
This morning a 2-minute clip from one of Caruana's training camps was uploaded on YouTube (now deleted). It featured various activities, chess included. Viewers could also see a laptop screen with a ChessBase file laid open. The greatest intel blunder in chess history or a hoax? pic.twitter.com/nwHL75M2cC
— Olimpiu G. Urcan (@olimpiuurcan) November 13, 2018
There was also a screenshot from ChessBase with a directory of games from the Carlsen-Karjakin match, but also some files containing opening lines the team may have been preparing. In fact, one of the lines had been seen in the match! The video created a firestorm and chess journalists dissected the video and tried to make sense of its meaning.
Chess journalists reviewing the mysterious video for insight.
Photo by David Llada
After the game was drawn, Journalist from NRK (Norway) asked both players about the video at the press conference. Caruana opted not to make a comment about the video. Carlsen with a rather impish grin stated, “I’ll have a look at the video… then make up my mind.” This induced a roar of laughter in the room.
Not to let Carlsen off the hook, Mike Klein of chess.com wanted to confirm whether he had seen the video. This created another crescendo of laughter and a comical expression from Carlsen. He then composed himself and stated, “I can truthfully say that I have not seen the video, but I’m aware of its existence.”
The ChessBase screenshot from the St. Louis video
What can we make of this? Was this a serious blunder for Team Caruana, a meaningless kerfuffle, or simply a disinformation campaign. The video was edited and cut to the ChessBase screen so it was intentionally shown. The question is whether that information was actually meaningful.
In marketing strategy, many companies will release phony information about new products to keep competitors distracted while they work one the real killer products. Could this simply be click bait? With Team Caruana mum on the issue, we may not know the significance until after the match.
Norwegian Grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer told the VG Norway that he thought the video was authentically showing the preparation of Team Caruana. “This is the opening library of Caruana,” offered Hammer. “This was so much detail and in-depth information on an opening he has already used in the world championship match. It is obvious that this is relevant.” We will have to see if any of it matters.
As far as the game itself, Carlsen opened up with 1.c4 and the game went to a type of Reversed Sicilian Dragon. Pieces were liquidated quickly and black’s wrecked pawn structure was compensated by the pressure on the b-pawn. After 34.Rbc1, the game would probably end in a three-fold repetition after 34…Kd7 35.Rb1 Ke6 36.Rbc1, etc.
There have been some complaints about the lack of excitement of the games, but fans should realize that in the first 1/3 of the match, players are trying to get a feel for the match and the opponent. It is foolish to take undue risks in such a short match. With the level so close, it is hard to rebound from a loss, so both players are waiting for their chances. So far, only Carlsen has had clear winning chances (Game 1).
Photo by Daaim Shabazz
Video by World Chess
Video by GM Daniel King