Monday, April 1, 2013

Go Magnus Go!

We're down to the final round of the Candidates Tournament, and it's as close as could be: Carlsen and Kramnik are tied for first, with Svidler and Aronian tied for third.

In the last round, Carlsen has the White pieces versus Peter Svidler, while Kramnik has the Black pieces vs Vassily Ivanchuk. Having White for the last round gives Carlsen a slight advantage, but Svidler has been playing a marvelous tournament and will be a very tough opponent.

Meanwhile, Ivanchuk has been playing rather poorly, losing a number of games on time, apparently unused to the time controls used in this tournament, which provide no per-move increments.

(A slight aside on modern chess time controls, for those not familiar with how they have developed over the years:

In more serious tournaments, games may be broken up into multiple time controls that help dictate the pace of play, while also giving players plenty of time with which to think. This ensures that while a game might last six hours or longer, players are forced to reach a certain point of the game after just a few hours.

One multiple time control format seen frequently in major tournaments is 40/120, G/60. This time control requires players to make at least 40 moves in their first two hours of playing time, then gives each player another hour with which to finish the remainder of the game.


With an increment, players have time added to their clock after every move that’s completed. In the long international tournaments mentioned earlier, players often receive a 30 second increment – either throughout the entire game, or (more commonly) only in the final time control, thus ensuring that they’ll always have at least 30 seconds to make a move.


In this particular tournament, the time control is 2 hours for 40 moves, then an extra hour added for the next 20 moves, then 15 minutes more with a 30 second increment to finish. Recent top-flight tournaments have generally featured an increment throughout, I believe, so Ivanchuk's loss of several games on time has been credited by many observers to a failure to adapt to the slightly different control rules of this tournament.

At any rate, the games are underway, what will happen?

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