He played the 12th game safe knowing he's a huge favourite in rapid and blitz. Like Kasparov and Grischuk pointed out today, every other chess player gets worse playing rapid/blitz but Carlsen is the only one who actually improves.
Under these conditions it's more than sensible to move into the terrain where you have an advantage, if thinking strategically.
I would argue the problem is that most of the fans have become conditioned to expect entertainment, drama and bold moves in sports like we see in overly dramatic movies.
But historically, if you consider generals or even have a look into Sun Tzu's art of war, the strategists and generals that were most regarded were the ones who were able to win in a manner that it seemed easy, unimpressive, without drama or heavy losses or huge risks involved.
That's what a great strategy is about taking battle where the outcome is decided beforehand. And that's what Carlsen did.
The downside is it cost him €50k as the money distribution goes to 550/450 in tiebreak from 600/400 if decided in classical.
So he exchanged a potential loss of €200k at a favourable odds for a sure loss of €50k with potential loss of €150k at a much better odds. Now here's where we could question his decision speculating what the actual odds were, but who knows if he cares about the money.
I enjoyed this final a lot.
"Like Kasparov and Grischuk pointed out today, every other chess player gets worse playing rapid/blitz but Carlsen is the only one who actually improves."
Even if Kasparov and Grischuk said this today (citation please?), it doesn't make it true. There are many players who get better playing rapid and blitz. Look at the trajectory of the Bay Area's own GM Daniel Naroditsky. Nakamura.
I suspect most of the blitz haters are people who simply haven't spent enough time to get good at it.
"Regardless of all critics."
To your main point, the critics weren't saying that Carlsen isn't the best. They were complaining because he is not acting with respect to the purity and beauty of the game. There is simply an aesthetic ugliness to offering a draw with such a crushing time advantage in a better position.
I'm not arguing that this may not have been good strategy, lose the battle, win the war, etc etc.
What I'm saying is that there is a war to be won that is different than a 1 or 0 point. It's the battle for hearts and minds, which is won not just through victory but through integrity and courage. You win hearts by showing hearts.
Magnus didn't win hearts with his mercilessly pragmatic approach to winning the world championship title. I still respect him as the rightful owner of the title of best chess player in the world.
But if we're going to employ the "good by association" logical fallacy with whatever Kasparov and Grischuk may have said today, why not actually just quote the champion Magnus himself?
In the press conference, he came out and told everyone that Fabiano earned the right to share the crown of world's best player in classical chess with him.
Who am I, who are you, who are any of us to disagree with that?
I also enjoyed the final a lot. But the fact remains that the beauty and spectacle 2018 World Championships of the world's most beautiful mind game was marred by a decidedly un-beautiful game in round 12.
About the Grischuk and Kasparov quote, it turns out I did misrepresent ... Grischuk said that Carlsen's URS score gap for rapid and blitz "should" be negative in a live stream on chess24 and Kasparov tweeted a similar thing ... where I misrepresented is that Kasparov didn't say a word "improve" but see "his ratio is smallest ever"
To quote Carlsen himself "Some people think that if their opponent plays a beautiful game, it’s OK to lose. I don’t. You have to be merciless."
It's just the way he is and I not only don't blame him for it I personally respect it.
A good example is boxing. You have someone like Mayweather who is 50:0 a historical record. Yet he's often hated by fans because his boxing isn't exciting. It's also true that most fans would rejoice if he lost ... so why take risks? Many purists enjoy his style including myself.
In the end prize-fighting is about winning. It's their living. If Carlsen loses but plays a beautiful game none of the fans will pay for his livelihood - I am confident in stating this.
I don't mean to get all Ghandi-like on you, but I do want to ask you sincerely - what kind of world do you want to create? Do you want to help turn Silicon Valley into a culture that values class and heart, not just winning? I certainly do. Nothing wrong with winning, but I gotta believe that winning and sportsmanship/heart aren't mutually exclusive, even in the age of Facebook.
If you feel the same way, then ask yourself what kind of culture you are promoting in your comments. The change doesn't start with the powers that be all of a sudden deciding to pay people for integrity. The guys at the top are all too rich and powerful to advocate such blasphemy. The only way this changes is when the masses start telling each other that things should be different and can be different.
Which starts with holding people accountable when they let us down. Including the legends like Magnus Carlsen, who I consider to be a hero, along with the other chess players who could be worthy of the GOAT moniker. (Including, now, Fabiano. Even more so Fabi if he can get himself into shape playing blitz.)
Chess is a harmless game so boxing would be a better example. Imagine a boxer that uses dirty tactics or uses PEDs ... that's "winning at all costs." But a boxer that has an elusive style that's considered boring by fans because fans like a lot of action ... I applaud this person if the style is superior in getting results.
You can see my point is different fans appreciate different aspects of the game. I loved the way Carlsen took it to rapid. You didn't and I can understand why.
In boxing I see the beauty in elusive tactical style of Mayweather, other want to see a slugfest. Because boxing places your health at risk I look down on that to be honest and I value a victory with minimum risk.
I sympathise with your good intentions but you misrepresented my words.
I never argued for "winning at all cost." I believe ability to win, regardless of how unimpressive (as long as it is ethical) is a virtue.
I do not live in Bay Area nor the US, I wish you all well though :)
And that seems to be exactly what is happening by respecting those who do / looking down on those who don't. Not every reward has to be expressed by the in-game scoring system.
Within the rules.
Not arguing with you, just refining the point for the audience :-)
-- from NYT
I'm sure if Magnus had the benefit of the computer valuation he would have made more striking moves, but his reasons for taking safer approach (a4, e4) makes sense especially considering how evenly Caruana fought back in previous winning positions, and his objective going in.
At the point he offered the draw, even the computer suggested it was fairly even. The shocking part for me was that he also had a huge advantage in time, but I suppose he did not have the right mindset to switch gears.
I think if you want the championship to be more about "heart/courage" (and less about cold calculation) they just need shorter time controls. That was my one takeaway. Maybe something in-between rapid and classical. If you want to see robots push marginal advantages in drawish positions, just set up an AI tournament. Leave the humans to demonstrate heart, courage, and intuition!
Perhaps "marred" is a bit too strong. Could we at least agree on "besmirched"?
Here's the first paragraph from LiChess coverage:
'It is not often that the chess world unites to criticise Magnus Carlsen, but on Monday evening in London the World Champion had few supporters after his decision to squander a highly favourable position and offer a draw to his challenger Fabiano Caruana as soon as legally permissible in the final classical game of the world title match in London.
“Cowardly” said Carlsen’s compatriot and former coach Simen Agdestein. “Lazy” was Kramnik’s description of Carlsen’s play leading up to the draw offer. “I think he knows he is not playing the best moves,” the former World Champion added. “Shocking” said Kasparov, declaring that because he seemed to be losing his nerve, Carlsen was no longer his favourite to win the tiebreakers.'
Not that I'm being cynical about it... nobody wants to be a champion that nobody remembers. Especially not in an age where computers consistently outplay humans.
This is a general truth in sport, not just Chess. See also bike racing, baseball, PUBG.
People will tend towards doing what it takes to win. If you don't like those tactics, change the rules.
The point that others here are making is that Carlsen is objectively better at blitz chess, which is what the tiebreakers are formatted in.
You’re ignoring the fact that winning also guarantees him a spot in next year’s final, so that would heavily tip this analysis towards playing it safe.
Although I don’t believe Magnus is trying to win this for the money, but that’s besides the point.
I would argue he played ALL the games safe knowing he's a huge favorite in rapid and blitz.
I would much rather they have to keep playing "classical" chess until somebody wins/loses.
That means that the players would be far more motivated to drive home an advantageous situation when it arises.
Carlsen's dominance in blitz is probably why he doesn't seem to be squeezing endgames into victories anymore.
Sports is entertainment, social interaction, emotions etc. Other wise there is no point in wasting hours and hours of one's life other people's career.
Also likability of a person in sport decreases when you take away these things.
But I agree even so relative to Caruana, whose gaps are much higher. He must have been aware of this.
In reality, pro games have such strong contenders that each have very thin edge, if at all, and the outcome is usually just same as throwing dice.
Serral for example is the current best StarCraft 2 player in the world. They operate in tournaments where X players face off usually starting with 16+ players doing single elimination. He won 4 regional, and 2 international tournaments in a row. The odds of him pulling that off if the odds of each win where close to 50/50 would be ~1/(2^30) aka 1 billion to 1. Instead, he was heavily favored in most of these match ups.
Between "tanking" (teams that are deliberately bad in order to get better draft picks), massive budget differences (it's not unusual to see large-market teams with payrolls more than double those of small-market teams), and structural issues in the games themselves, parity can be very very difficult to achieve. 538 attempts to use chess-style Elo ratings to track the major sports, and currently they have:
* ~200-point difference between best and worst major-league baseball team
* ~400-point difference between best and worst NFL football team
* ~400-point difference between best and worst NBA basketball team
However I agree that HN is not the most efficient venue for chess strategy analysis
In other sports we have rules against playing to draw/stall (e.g. see delay of game in hockey). Likewise in chess (or this and a number of other tournaments anyways), we have rules against agreeing to draw within the first 30 moves to attempt to discourage this sort of behavior.
Not only did Carlsen not play to win the game, he didn't even play to win the championship. Instead he chose to draw, explicitly deciding to split the prize with his opponent.
I, for one, am highly unimpressed.
He did not fully "win" the championship. Sure, they had to give the title to somebody, so it's him, but splitting half of the prize is not a complete win.
Even if he had fully won, I don't view it as a sportsmanlike strategy to give up a game to put yourself in an advantageous position. That's why we have a rule against agreeing to a draw to early. That's why in hockey stopping trying to score and just passing the puck in circles at center is against the rules (delay of game) - even when it's the best way to win.
The goal of most title holders is to increase their odds at retaining the title, in whatever way match rules allow. This goal made for some horrible championships generations ago under Soviet rules.
I agree the rules should be "biased" toward rewarding maximum skill, not just maximizing winning odds. But as Caruana said “We work with the match that we have... If the powers that be want to change it, then we’ll work with something else.”
- This was part of the metagame.
- This was agreeing to a "semi-draw" in the metagame when he did not need to.
The winner gets 200k in prize money. In the case of a tie the winner gets 150k, the loser gets 50k. That is to say the winner gets 100k, and they split 100k, which is half the prize, which is what I said.
In any case, Carlsen said he wasn't aware of the prize money difference after reaching tie breakers, so it probably didn't factor into his decision making.
this literally makes no sense. In a tie, there is no winner and no loser. There was a winner and loser in this case, so there was no tie. I don't know why you keep insisting there was.
That has to be the least charitable reading ever. Do you seriously need me to spell out "In the case of a tie after the 12 games under the regular time constraints" while defending my math?
That's a conjecture. Nothing more. Nobody knows whether it is true! It is possible that a perfect player playing White may make you lose every time. It's even possible (though highly doubtful) that this holds for Black instead.
I watched many of the games of this series live via this channel, and it was great how the commentator had his own board to demonstrate the next few moves and explain the players' thinking. It was really interesting and relaxing.
I've watched most of his videos on his YouTube channel. He's not the most experienced player but his style of communication is very accessible, even to casual chess players. I'd especially check out his videos on Leela Chess Zero and Google Alpha Zero; they are a blast!
I also loved elements of the chess.com stream, especially when guys like Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura come on, but there's something to be said for just a very high quality stream with somebody who both knows what he's talking about and is super humble and interesting.
I had a feeling this would happen, though I have gotten the better of Magnus in bullet on Lichess with a mix of wild play and lucky tactics.
Speaking of which, I've been involved in beta-testing the killer online bullet chess interface which is being developed by mindgam3, mentioned here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18554909
This software is going to crush it. As someone with little programming experience myself, I dare to say that we need to bring online chess to the next level, and I think this guy has what it takes. We are looking for ambitious and open-minded developers to participate in this chess revolution. Please respond to this comment, or e-mail me at email@example.com if you are interested. With enough fire under us, I think we can bring Magnus on board too!
I think we need to support this kind of project so our hobby can grow. I like to contribute to the online chess world with some open sources projects http://chesswindmill.com/ it will be awesome if you can check them.
Thank you for the kind words! We are currently in stealth mode, but I would love to bring you on board via e-mail. Please shoot an e-mail at the address that is in my profile. My e-mail is currently a bit swamped because I'm organizing a few events this weekend, but I can get back to you early next week.
We are a big fan of open source, and in the meantime I will definitely take a look at your open source projects on chesswindmill.
Today's first few games changed my mind. Carlsen remains the better player, because he does better where it matters; time pressure. Caruana seemed to battle with time a lot, I observed a few instances where he'd spend a lot of time on "forced" moves, perhaps an element of self-doubt against his counterpart.
It's been an interesting time watching the games, but maybe it's time the classical format is spiced up with something else inbetween. You can't beat a record 12/12 draws, so I hope that doesn't become the norm, as we might as well be watching a blitz championship in the end.
I disagree. Carlsen is the better player under time pressure, but they appear evenly matched in what I'd consider "actual" chess. One of the things I love about the game is that it's a slow, pensive game.
I look at it this way. The main 12 games have already told us who is good given lots of time to deliberate now who has a good enough understanding to make those decisions quickly.
Did they? The primary complaint about Carlsen's game 12 is that he had Caruana dead to rights, but chose not to press the advantage.
Which isn't to say that Caruana didn't do a fantastic job of playing Carlsen to a standstill throughout the tournament, but Carlsen seemed to have more of a clear edge several times (blundering it a bit in games 1, and slightly misplaying similar edges in games 9 and 10) before gaining an absolutely vicious one in game 12.
Caruana never seemed to quite work himself into those kind of serious edges, even if he did an admirable job of defending against them.
That's not what the controversy was about. It was the fact that white had "winning chances" in a completely unclear position with most pieces were still on the board. "Winning chances" isn't winning.
Magnus's reputation is he's a guy who will usually press on in a (seemingly) flat endgame where a lot of GMs will agree to draw and occasionally will squeeze out a win in those circumstances. It's antithetical to that image for him to offer a draw in a position _no_ GM would offer in typical circumstances. He did it for strategic reasons, and given his performance in the tiebreaker today, it looks all the more justifiable for the purposes of winning, but some people don't like that attitude from a champion.
You’re also not doing Caruana justice. He worked Carlsen into badly losing positions in two games, but just blundered away the winning continuations allowing Carlsen to save a draw each time.
I think the better player won the match, but that Caruana played toe to toe with Carlsen, including attacking chess that caught Carlsen off guard and caused him to respond poorly. Meanwhile, Carlsen made absolutely the correct choice (best strategic choice) to draw in Game 12.
Very nice championship match, probably my favorite one of Carlsen’s era.
Chess championships sometimes draw the same criticism as boxing, players strategise to win on technicalities and small margins, instead of taking risks and landing hard blows.
As fans, that is boring, but I agree; Carlsen made the correct choice in drawing.
From the analysis Carlsen used his advantage well: to secure continued advantage.
Firstly Starcraft has economics in the form of the resource gathering mechanics. This means if you pursue attack as your only priority the enemy may get ahead economically and, if they survive long enough, just out-build you. No mechanic like that exists in Chess, you can't have more pawns if you invest in a pawn-making machine for one turn rather than moving.
Secondly, Starcraft is a game of deliberately hidden knowledge. You don't know whether those two wounded Marines ran up that ramp hoping your forces won't follow, or if they're just bait to draw your attacking force into range of two waiting Siege Tanks who will do enormous damage. In Chess the game state is entirely open.
You're misstating the results of the Game 12 replays (see: https://www.chess.com/computer-chess-championship, which is pitting numerous engines against each other in the position at Game 12's resignation).
It's currently +3-18=14. That's 3 wins for Caruana's position, 18 wins for Carlsen's, and 14 draws. That's about as decisive a position as you can get in high-level chess. Yes, with perfect play, Caruana might have reached a draw, but Carlsen was in an overwhelmingly strong position. And this isn't even truly accounting for the time pressure Caruana put himself in at that point. He would have been defending from an incredible time deficit.
> Meanwhile, Carlsen made absolutely the correct choice (best strategic choice) to draw in Game 12.
Numerous grandmasters disagree with you, including at least Anand, Nakamura, Hess, Kasparov, and Kramnik. The computer results also suggest he should have at least played on several moves before offering, because he was in a position where his likely worst case result was a draw and his best case was a decisive win.
Except that +3 would mean three chess engines, supposedly stronger than Carlsen, have managed to lose Carlsen's position. That's eye-opening, and perhaps justifies Carlsen offering a draw than risking being in that +3 column.
Caruana was supposedly without counter-play. +3 is far too high a score to support that claim.
This position hadn't reached that critical of a juncture yet, but that's largely because Magnus just started winging it long before the final position. His position was much stronger earlier on. But even in the final position he was very much the attacker and Fabiano's clock was starting to run low. In practical chess, Fabiano definitely faced an uphill battle to try to draw that position.
Today’s games stand at +3-0=0 or, taking the last game as the draw it would have been if Caruana didn’t have to win, at +2-0=1.
I haven’t done the math, but I’m sure taking a “best of four” sample from the distribution that was taken from gives you better odds than taking a n=1 sample from the distribution that gave you +3-18=14 (about 9% chance of losing, about 50% of winning’, followed by (if that draw is a tied game) that n=4 sample.
And that’s ignoring the fact that that +3-18=14 is from machines that are way different from humans. When given a chess position that’s like a minefield, with a single winning sequence of 40 moves, and all other moves a loss, a computer will happily declare the position a certain win, but chances are no human will find that winning sequence.
If this was not the game 12, they would have had a point. However it was the game 12 and upon a draw Carlsen would have enormous advantage in a tie breaker -- he is much stronger in rapid games.
A slight advantage in a complicated position with lots of tension and many ways for the game to continue is wildly different from a slight advantage in a quieter position with many of the pieces traded down. In the latter, a mistake might cause you to draw rather than win. In the former, a mistake might cause you to lose outright.
In the old days a bit of flair and risk might have taken you a long way.
1. or at least the minimisation of mistakes.
Carlsen is widely recognized to have been in a great, likely winning position in game 12, and arguably got himself into several other, if not cleanly decisive positions, very strong ones in several other games, where Caruana never quite seemed to.
OP suggested they were dead even in play in "what he considers" chess (classical time controls). I'm suggesting that the results may have been even, but that Carlsen seemed to be stronger all along, based on the chances he got himself into, even though it never quite converted until rapid.
Long time ago in a galaxy far away I played at a very high level.
Sometimes when I'm bored or lonely or cranky I play hustlers in the Union Sq in NYC. There's probably one guy (old cranky Russian) that can actually give me a run for my money and he is still going to be a several hundred points below me. Regardless, sometimes I wander into situations that I dont quite like -- no decisive advantage where I have to play carefully. Instead I quickly take it to a draw because the odds of me getting into a bad position multiple times in a row are smaller than the odds of me not tripping in a position that I do not like and since no money changes hands on a draw, drawing is nothing other than kicking a ball down the road.
For Carlsen kicking a ball into a tie breaker comes with a multiple hundred point advantage. It is the advantage that he does not have with classic time controls.
This doesn't show every game, but fivethirtyeight.com shows the games being pretty split up to game 9:
With Carlsen having a strong advantage in game 1, and Caruana in game 6. Caruana having a small advantage in game 2, and Carlsen having a small advantage in game 9. It seems about as split as it could be.
I'd argue that he's better because he has mastered more than just one format. If we have a tie in one category, and one of the players has a strong advantage in another category; then they'll come out as "better".
Imagine two people of equal ability at ice hockey. You wouldn't say that one is better than the other at ice hockey because he's better than the other at field hockey.
Adding my edit to a below comment here:
Probably the best analogy here is association football -- the normal, standard game can end in a draw. During the World Cup and other elimination tournaments, a completely new rule, not part of the normal game, is introduced allowing games to be decided by penalty kicks. Is the fact that Italy beat France in the 2006 World Cup final on penalty kicks evidence that Italy's team was "better at association football" than France's? Many people would argue that it's not.
Rapid and blitz (and armageddon) were part of the meta-rules of this match, but then your argument only works if you say Magnus is better at the meta-sport called "winning the 2018 World Chess Championship" -- which I'd agree with, but it isn't the same thing as being better at chess.
I've competed at a high level in a hobby of mine, and it was well known that the winner of a competition was never "the person who is best", it was "the person who is best in the competition environment that day". No matter what rules you have, that will always be true. And that's okay.
I wouldn't be surprised if Carlsen would soon again have a comfortable lead on the ELO ladder. He was once at 2882.
I am however happy that he had such a worthy opponent in this tournament!
Not even classical time controls play that way -- 15 minutes per move would rapidly lose you the match. Prepared openings come quite quickly, obviously, but most moves even beyond that are played within a very few minutes of each other, with time being saved to spend on a "deep-think" of 15-30 minutes on only one or two key moves.
Which makes sense. Classical time controls in this tournament were, counting the per move increments, 120 minutes per player for the first 40 moves. That means you need to average a move every 3 minutes over your first 40 (and in reality, they spend less than that most games, preferring to maintain a healthy cushion).
Rapid (not Blitz, they did not play any Blitz games) only drops that down to 45 seconds per move over the first 40. Since they tend to live closer to the margin in Rapid anyways vs Classical, this is even less of a drop than it might appear.
It's unquestionably less time to think, but not nearly as much as you're suggesting.
This is completely wrong. Top players (Carlsen included) acknowledge that chess on rapid time controls is very different from longer time controls, to the point that it feels almost like a different sport.
You may or may not agree that rapid (and blitz, if needed) are used as tie breaker, but they are not what matters the most in the World Chess Championship.
Traditionally, it has been about long time controls.
What you said it’s like saying that penalties are what matters the most in soccer.
Not really. I'm not disregarding the classical form of the game, but I'm saying that rapid and blitz show an extra quality which the long form doesn't; the ability to keep calm under pressure.
Penalties are an interesting one, because they're partly about speed and deception. They don't matter most, but a good team spends some time preparing for them (in addition to the game) because in the end, if they count 3 out of 100, and both teams have 97, the one that doesn't prepare to get those 3 points will be the weaker.
Sure, but by playing on rapid time controls you are not giving the players the opportunity to evaluate lines as deep as those on longer time controls.
You add something, but you lose something. And what you lose is the very essence of chess.
It is, in essence, a standard chess taken to extreme - the difference between a 1900 player and an IM is that IM would play to win while 1900 player would play to attack.
Not at all. Both of these guys would handily beat me and pretty much any other player quite easily in standard time controls. Time pressure was only a factor here because there's public pressure to name someone as the champion. In the vast majority of all tournaments, ties are left as ties. In the event there is a prize that can't be split (e.g. a title or a trophy) there are a series of tiebreak rules that don't involve playing any more games. The USCF rulebook lists the methods and priority that they are to be used, the FIDE rulebook gives several options which are to be announced in advance .
Caruana knew he was the underdog in Tie-breaks, he had 12 chances to avoid that and he was unable to.
Carlsen could have pressed in game 12 but he knew he was much stronger in faster controls, why risk anything?
Using computer evals through the match, I felt that Carlsen was slightly stronger, and their head to head record suggests as much.
Classical these days is heavily reliant on technology for preparation. The world championship match gives both players a huge amount of time to research strong lines using an engine. When players finally do get out of prep, they have plenty of time on the clock to make a draw if they're not in a winning position. In shorter time controls it becomes a lot more difficult to avoid mistakes out of book. Then it becomes more about vision and calculation and less about preparation.
Often old sidelines will come back into fashion in order to avoid prep, or to lead someone into unfamiliar territory.
If you watch on a video feed, announcers will sometimes say "this position was played in city (x) in year (n) between player(1) and player(2)" this is to show that there are few games left in the database, we are entering deep prep.
Hope I helped.
And this is nothing new, ever since the first time Carlsen was in a WC match Norway has been obsessed with chess. Some joke it's because we're so fond of slow-tv here. Both NRK and VG has made it like a panel/talk-show with a mix of chess experts and entertainers. The format works well.
I was rooting for Caruana but I'm not at all annoyed that Carlsen won. I really like how each of them rose to greatness with the different styles of playing chess they have.
ChessExplained is high rated German IM working towards becoming a GM and has tons (literally many thousands of videos) of great content, including self-commentated blitz, top games, openings, etc.
First, hats off to both players for a hard fought match. To Magnus for successfully defending his title, and to Fabiano for pushing Magnus right to the brink. This was an exciting matchup that was good for chess, especially American chess thanks to Fabi.
I give Magnus enormous respect for his classy remark in the closing ceremony, when he stated that Fabiano has as much right to claim the throne of classical chess as he does. This is 100% true given their drawn match, be didn’t have to say it, but the fact that he offered that recognition to Fabiano is such a gentleman’s move. It’s enough to make me forget the disappointment I felt due to his draw offer in game 12. Magnus not only is the champ, he deserves to be the champ.
Fabiano talked about taking lessons from this experience. I hope his big takeaway is to begin incorporating online blitz and bullet into his training routine. From playing bughouse with him, I know that he is very unsure of himself when it comes to these faster time controls. I don’t blame him for this. Most likely it is a result of his coach(es) instructing him not to “waste his time” or “ruin his chess” with blitz and bullet.
The truth is, blitz chess is not only insanely fun but extremely good training to develop intuition for slow chess. In case anyone has doubts about whether it is valuable, we just saw a world championship title awarded based on rapid.
tl;dr: Play more bullet and blitz! It’s good for you.
Shameless plug: I have been developing an online interface to help people become insanely good at bullet and blitz in a short amount of time. Essentially I reverse engineered the process of how I became a chess prodigy and prototyped a web interface to do it faster and at scale. I currently have an almost-MVP integrated with LiChess API and I’m looking for both beta testers and full stack devs (web and mobile) to help me launch this thing. With a little luck we will have Fabi, Magnus, Hikaru and others testing this in a month or two. I could really use some help on the dev side so anyone interested, please leave a comment! Can offer some combination of equity/cash/world-class private chess instruction to the right person or people :-)
I find that actually quite controversial - correlation does not imply causation. The general sentiment within the community is that the causation works from the other side i.e being good at slow leads to being good at blitz.
Here are some quotes you might find interesting:
"Playing rapid chess, one can lose the habit of concentrating for several hours in serious chess. That is why, if a player has big aims, he should limit his rapidplay in favour of serious chess." – Vladimir Kramnik
"He who analyses blitz is stupid." – Rashid Nezhmetdinov
"Blitz chess kills your ideas." – Bobby Fischer
"To be honest, I consider [bullet chess] a bit moronic, and therefore I never play it." – Vladimir Kramnik
"I play way too much blitz chess. It rots the brain just as surely as alcohol." – Nigel Short
"Blitz is simply a waste of time." – Vladimir Malakhov
* 1958 trip to Moscow chess club he took on all comers, including Petrosian in blitz: https://nezhmet.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/the-fabulous-50s-fi...
* 1962 Stockholm, Geller pulls a trick on Fischer suggesting he play his "unknown" compatriot when Fischer challenged him to blitz. The unknown was Leonid Stein, a legendary blitz player, but largely unknown outside of the USSR: http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2012/03/16/bobbys-blitz-che...
* 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz tournament, held very soon after The World vs USSR match. Winner was a certain Bobby Fischer: https://www.365chess.com/tournaments/Herceg_Novi_blitz_1970
The world crown was lost because Fabiano cracked under time pressure and lost a position in Game 1 of tiebreaks that he easily could have drawn in classical chess.
Skill in blitz chess does translate to classical, people.
It's not just about developing intuition. It's training your mind to see clearly under non-optimal situations, like when you are exhausted or, say, drunk. Not that you would ever play a serious game of chess while drunk, but still.
Being good at slow 100% does NOT lead to being good at blitz. I mean, yes, a grandmaster will beat a noob at blitz, but that's obvious.
I know what I'm talking about. I am a lowly national master who "punches above my weight" by regularly beating strong IMs and GMs at blitz and bullet.
@whatismindgam3 on LiChess, feel free to add me there or challenge me if you want to put my theories to the test.
It’s not just me who feels that way about blitz though. Look at guys like Hikaru Nakamura or Daniel Naroditsky. For every grandmaster who thinks blitz is useless, I can find one who thinks the opposite.
Ultimately the only real way to test theories is to get in and try it on yourself. Would you like to learn how to improve your chess? Are you open to a new way of doing it accelerated by technology? If so, I might be able to help. If not, no worries. There are plenty of other coaches or software tools out there.
I'm involved in early beta-testing for mindgam3's interface, and can vouch for its legitimacy and potential. See my comment to the main post for more explanation.
-GM Daniel Naroditsky
As someone who enjoys blitz much more than classical chess and would like to get better at it, your interface sounds interesting. I'm only ~1,800 in blitz on Lichess, but I'd be curious to beta test it or take lessons.
I was never as good as you in chess. My best game ever with normal time constraints was a tie against a 2400, and my regular games are around 2000. But it was only a hobby.
What is troubling about chess in general is that it cannot be truly learnt. As computers have shown. With that in mind, let's also assume that intution plays a role. The classical offers the second best way of determining who has got it right. Fast chess kills your intuition as it offers incentives to play the more wrong game that your opponent might blunder to. When I play normal chess, I play in a way that is safe up to somewhere between 5 to 7 moves depth, at my best days. Magnus has more depth obviously. So if his opponents play for the win, they will lose. And under time control, he has a better full view of the board, so plays faster and that's all as much I can tell. But if his opponent has an different, perhaps intuitive, style, which I have no understanding of, he will lose. The key point being, that the move that is the best up to depth 7, can be the move that you could see how it loses you the game if you had more depth.
To my main concern about your comment, playing fast, particular bullet and blitz, indeed damages your right intuition if there is any. And if the person is anything like me, it might bleed into other aspects of their life, with consequences.
My advice to anyone who plays fast games and has a sharp and computing mind, is to spend time at a creative activity, such as writing, some sciences, and put chess aside for a year. Develop your creative skills, and then you'll notice the negative impact of bullet and blitz (With all due respect to your skills, the terms bullet and blitz makes me feel a turmoil now), which I consider to be quite serious.
With that out of the way, I suspect that the difference between bullet and classical people is probably like the difference between a sprinter and a marathon runner.
In my other spare time, I like to ride bicycles. Everyone who doesn't do it thinks it's a dangerous thing - but the way I ride isn't the way that most people think I ride. I prefer the slow, cautious, zen and analytical approach compared to the "intuitive" fast, mad rush that most people will be familiar with when they think "cyclist". I can go fast when required as I have developed and applied my own theory for it, but most of the time I prefer to just take it easy. So I see some parallels there - horses for courses.
I don't really buy the idea that there's such a thing as intuition. Intuition to me merely means that someone who apparently demonstrates it cannot understand how to explain their intuition (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/intuition). Many seem to be equating it to a higher form of intelligence but I don't buy that that is the case.
I daresay that Fabiano Caruana is probably pretty good at classical now and can perhaps afford to practise shorter controls a lot more. He's actually not bad at it, but has had inconsistent results in the past. But who knows - in 2020 we might be seeing a lot less Rossolimo and Petrov.
To your other point, intuition is never going to replace deep calculation for slower games. But the ability to process visual patterns still aids with the deep thinking aspect. You can perceive more subtle patterns and add them visually while thinking carefully about each move.
My opinion doesn't carry much as I haven't played competitively long enough, but I strongly agree with you here.
Just like in many things in life, constant time pressure helps build intuition; and in chess it helps us to trust our lines.
I felt like Fabiano was battling time in addition to Magnus.
Ultimately, though, what this world championship proves is that we need to get rid of the distinction between "classical" and "blitz". The "classical" world championship was just decided by a few games of rapid.
Fundamentally, the question is how to get good at "chess" - thinking fast and slow. Over-training at any one time control will weaken you in the others. But will increase your overall strength.
Some players (myself included, 2400 bullet and 2250 classical) probably need to spend more time training and playing classical than bullet. The vast majority of players I encounter are much weaker in blitz than in classical, including many IMs and GMs. For these people I would prescribe a few thousand games of bullet chess, fix 'em up right quick.
Interesting point. Competitive coding has virtually nothing to do with real world software engineering. But, since it's still coding, you could learn a lot of bad habits from doing it that might carry over into the real world. Better to get into <competitive hobby> instead.
I'm terrible, terrible at chess, but at least I don't hang my queen or do other truly stupid shit in longer time controls. You can't even really start to play chess for real until you stop just giving up pieces and I think as long as you're throwing games that hard, I dunno if rapid/blitz is the best place for you.
Or at least, that's what I think you might have heard when you say you've heard "blitz is bad for you". Once you stop doing the truly stupid shit, then you can start learning chess for real, and maybe then it's better to do rapid/blitz.
I know in Starcraft2 there was a component of grinding that pros would recommend, but you can't really grind if you don't know how to do screen hotkeys, for example.
Most people struggle to get good at chess because they are too afraid to lose, and too afraid to actually do the "practice" part of playing which is to analyze your losses to identify which areas you need to train.
Grinding is not how you get better. Grinding can be fun, and can be a great way to blow off steam. Both of those are awesome reasons to play chess. But if you are serious about improving quickly, do what the pros do. Don't grind aimlessly. Play a lot, don't be afraid to lose, and do legit post-mortems to give you feedback on where you need to pay more attention.
I play 95% my online bullet on my phone and even rely on mobile for ChessBase and training prep, so nailing the mobile UX is critical to this thing being habit-forming enough to become a viable daily training tool.
The entire match, played over the past weeks, is this playlist:
I would say it was Carlsen's overall strategy that got him a win. Taking it to the tie-break where he's a huge favourite. Seems like playing it safe was his strategy.
I can't evaluate who chose better tactics.
How about link the a website dedicated to chess?
I'll bite. What makes a (generally considered) reputable news outlet such as the NYT reporting on relatively major news spam?