Saturday, November 12

World Championship Results

Players stare at board in full concentration during Game 7. (credit: Chessbase)

World Championship Match
New York City
November 11 - 28
Games Begin 11AM Pacific time
Tiebreaks on November 30 (if necessary)

 Round # | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10| 11| 12| TOT |
 Carlsen | = | = | = | = | = | = | = | 0 | = | 1 | = | = | 6.0 |
Karjakin | = | = | = | = | = | = | = | 1 | = | 0 | = | = | 6.0 |

Magnus Carlsen plays White in Games 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12
Sergey Karjakin plays White in Games 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11

Tiebreaker on Wednesday, November 30.
  1. Four games of Rapid G/25 with 10 sec increment. 
  2. If still tied, two games of Blitz G/5 with 3 sec increment.
  3. If still tied, repeat until 10 Blitz games are completed.
  4. If still tied after 14 tiebreak games, then one Armageddon game. White gets 5 minutes, Black gets 4 minutes.  Black wins if drawn!  A 3 second increment kicks in on move 61.

Friday, November 11

Carlsen vs Karjakin Match Begins Today

Carlsen and Karjakin smile on the day before Game 1. (credit: Chess24)

The World Chess Championship 2016 begins today at 11AM Pacific time. Defending champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway faces challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia, but born in Ukraine. The venue is the Fulton Market Building in the South Street Seaport of Manhattan, New York. This will be the first title bout featuring two players of the Computer Age. Karjakin is 26 and Carlsen turns 26 on November 30, the day of the tiebreaker, if necessary. Both grew up analyzing with computers, studying databases, and playing blitz on the internet.

When they were kids.... (credit: Chess Daily News)
The competitors are two of the three youngest Grandmasters in history. Carlsen is both the #1 rated player in the world at 2853, and holds the highest rating in history of 2882. He earned the GM title in 2004 at the tender age of 13 years, 4 months and 27 days. Carlsen was crowned world champion in 2013, vanquishing Viswanathan Anand of India. He also won a rematch in 2015. On the other hand, Karjakin became the youngest GM ever in 2002, amazingly only 12 years and 7 months old. Now he is #9 in the world at 2772, with a lifetime peak rating of 2788. He qualified for the title match by winning the strong Candidates Tournament earlier this year, outlasting the top rated American Fabiano Caruana in the final round. While Karjakin has competed against the strongest players in the world for the past decade, this will be his first shot at the chess crown.

Most experts have tabbed Carlsen as the favorite. They cite his higher rating and greater experience in title matches. His universal style has few known weaknesses, and his ability to grind out a win from a seemingly drawn endgame is second to none. Carlsen could play almost any opening imaginable, and sometimes chooses to avoid mainstream theory simply to obtain the middlegame he prefers. For someone who enjoys marathon games, he is fit as an athlete, an advantage that may be less significant against an opponent his own age.  

This is the board they will play on. The glass window
is a special mirror that spectators can see through, but
the players cannot. (credit: Dan Lucas of US Chess)
All that said, Karjakin is a dangerous challenger, a talented junior who dominated tournaments back in his youth. Over the years, he has also shown few weaknesses. Perhaps his strength lies in defending, an attribute that highlights resourcefulness and resilience. In many ways, Karjakin’s style mirrors that of the world champion. Another advantage could be in the opening, where he draws upon the accumulated knowledge of the Soviet Chess School. Never before has Karjakin received unconditional financial support of the Russian Chess Federation and the Kremlin. His team of seconds may include some of the best of the world, or at least, the former Soviet Union.  No doubt, he will be fully prepared, and probably an even stronger player than ever.

The match lasts just 12 games, short by historical standards. For example, the famous encounter between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1972 went 24 rounds. And the first match between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in 1984 was controversially aborted after 48 games over nearly five months! As a result, the subsequent four Kasparov-Karpov matches were capped at 24 games. In spite of historical precedent, 12 games became the modern standard in 2008, when Viswanathan Anand soundly defeated Vladimir Kramnik.

The World Chess Championship 2016 runs from November 11 to 30. Games are scheduled one per day starting at 11AM Pacific time, with a rest day after every two games (plus an extra day off before the final game). Carlsen has the white pieces in rounds 1, 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12. Once either player reaches 6.5 or 7.0 points, the match terminates immediately. On the other hand, if they finish tied 6 to 6, then a 4 game rapid time control tiebreaker will occur on November 30.

Carlsen won in Bilbao just 4 months ago. (credit: Chessbase)

Who will win? These two combatants have battled 21 times in classical chess, with the Norwegian scoring 4 wins against only 1 for the Russian. Karjakin’s lone win came in 2012, while Carlsen has won three straight (not counting draws), most recently this July in Bilbao, Spain. No doubt, the defending champion remains the clear favorite. My prediction is +2, which translates to Carlsen scoring 2 wins more than losses (e.g. 6.5-4.5 with 3 wins, 1 loss and 7 draws). Let the show begin!

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