Monday, November 7, 2016

It's chess time again!

I've been rather remiss on following the world chess scene.

But it's time to remedy that! (At least for a month...)

The 2016 World Chess Championship starts on Friday, November 11th, in New York City.

Reigning champion Magnus Carlsen will face Sergey Karjakin.

Carlsen is, of course, an astonishing talent, and a tremendously exciting player to follow; his life story is at this point well-known:

  • Born in Norway
  • Noticed as a brilliant chess prodigy at a very young age
  • Was beating the top players players in Norway by age 10
  • Earned the Grandmaster title when he was 13.5 years old
  • Came under the personal tutelage of Garry Kasparov at age 18
  • Defeated Viswanathan Anand in 2013 to become the World Chess Champion, and defended his title against Anand in 2014
  • Is particularly known for his extraordinarily precise calculations, coupled with an ability to win marathon games in endgame positions that most other players would assess as having far too small an advantage to be worth pursuing.

Karjakin, however, is no slouch in the talent department either:

  • Born in Ukraine (Crimea)
  • Noticed as a brilliant chess prodigy at a very young age
  • Was beating the top players in Ukraine by age 11
  • Earned the Grandmaster title when he was 12.5 years old
  • Became a Russian citizen in 2009 in order to get improved training and play in stronger tournaments
  • Is renowned as well for his brilliant and extraordinarily accurate play, which includes a number of spectacular games over the past 18 months during the major qualification tournaments for the championship

Surely Carlsen has to be the favorite, simply because he's "been there before."

But Karjakin should test him to the limit. In many ways, Karjakin should be a much stronger test than Anand was, as Anand is considerably older at this point and although he's always been my all-time favorite player, Anand's skills were clearly below those of Carlsen by the time they met.

Anyway, enough rambling.

I'm excited! The World Chess Championship begins in less than 4 days!

Because life's more fun this way, I feel the need to make a prediction, so here goes:

Carlsen wins 4 games. Karjakin wins 1. They draw 5 games, and the championship is decided after game 10.

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