Thursday, December 01, 2016

World chess championship: A rare 2016 defeat for Vladimir Putin

The European referendum and the American Presidential election went his way, but last night Vladimir Putin's man failed to win the world chess championship.

After their 12-game match was tied, Magnus Carlsen retained his title by beating the challenger Sergey Karjakin in a four-game play off at a much faster time limit.

It led to exciting chess - Carlsen finished the play off by sacrificing his queen to force mate - but that is like settling a drawn Ashes series with a Twenty20 game.

The play in the match proper was not exciting, and this was because it was too short. If you lose one of the early games in a 12-game match, it is hard to come back. The result was that neither player was willing to take risks.

Think of football, where the 'golden goal' (a rule change under which the first game in extra time ended the match) led to defensive play because conceding would knock you out of the tournament.

A 24-game match, which is what Fischer and Spassky played in the most famous world title contest ever, would be more likely to lead to aggressive chess.

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