My thoughts on the World Chess Championship

This month’s blog post is quite different. It’s rather unusual in that it’s not focusing on either economics or finance. This post rather focuses on the world chess championship that just concluded.

After 12 draws in the classical format that left the score tied at 6-6 between the Norwegian, Magnus Carlsen and American, Fabiano Caruana, the game moved on to tie breakers in which Carlsen, the world champion going into the tournament retained his title. This means that Magnus Carlsen since beating Vishy Anand in 2013 to become world champion for the first time has banished Anand again in 2014, Karjakin in 2016, and Caruana in 2018 to remain world champion. Carlsen’s unrelenting desire to not relinquish his title is something that’s deeply admirable to both his critics and fans.

The tournament though wasn’t without controversy. For a sport that tends to seem pretty mundane to the general public, there was definitely no shortage of drama. From the videogate scandal  in which Caruana’s preparation was inadvertently leaked before Game 4 to the fireworks that erupted at the conclusion of game 12. A game in which Carlsen playing Black was heavily criticized around the chess world for offering a draw in what was a winning position. Although I feel that though some criticism was well justified, a lot of it was over the top. Carlsen lately has been showing signs of deterioration in his Chess game, and given the risks involved it’s not something to be baulked at. Most high level chess players unfortunately can’t play at the high level for too long considering the toll it takes on their mental health. Those that do go down in the history books for both good and bad reasons. Bobby Fischer, the last American chess champion who famously went deranged because of the strain playing chess at such an optimum level had on him. And while Carlsen is quite rightly regarded as the strongest player of his generation, and possibly of any generation. His decision I feel to offer a draw to take the tournament into tiebreakers (played in a rapid/blitz format) in which he undoubtedly is the best player of any generation, was rather a well calculated move. If he wasn’t feeling like he could have beaten Caruana despite his superior position, he shouldn’t have to because a few people might be offended. Chess has been better off with Carlsen as World Champion and considering there’s no one on the horizon that’s beating him anytime soon, long may that continue. 

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